Marco in the Park

by Nick Brady

Part 13

The relationship between Marco and myself seemed to grow stronger as the days went by. Probably the main reason for this was that we tried to keep things real between us. We had our rough spots of course, but basically we were trusting each other to be honest, even when that proved difficult.

One Saturday morning in late spring we had enjoyed one of Marco's fine breakfasts. When he was baptized at Easter I had surprised him with a gift of three books. Two were traditional for an Episcopal baptism, a nice annotated NIV Bible and a Book of Common Prayer, both leather bound.

The third was not so traditional but for Marco a real treat – a hardbound copy of 'The Joy of Cooking'. This not only had tons of good recipes but a lot of information about how to prepare certain types of foods. It was really a short course in culinary arts and a recipe book all in one volume. He got a big kick out of it and blessed us with many mostly successful experiments. This morning was his attempt at Eggs Benedict, complete with homemade hollandaise sauce.

"Was that the same as you had in San Antonio?" I asked him.

"It was pretty close. Did you like it?"

"To tell the truth I never had it before, but it was delicious."

He grinned. "Not all my experiments have turned out so great, but I thought that was pretty good."

"You know, David is somewhat intimidated by your cooking. He regards himself as something of a chef and you have often outdone him."

"Well, I don't know about that. He does some cool stuff."

"Don't be modest, you are pretty good yourself."

We cleaned up and were sitting out on our little patio behind the apartment drinking coffee. I thought back to our conversation on the way home from San Antonio over the Christmas holiday. His honesty had touched me and I felt a pang of guilt that I had not been as honest about some of the things from my own life. I hesitated to spoil a mellow mood, but had some air to clear.

"Things are going pretty well for you Marco. How do you feel about us?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, I remember that you were concerned that I might not understand about some of the things that happened to you before we met. You were very honest with me and that turned out to be a good thing for both of us. I really respected that."

He looked at me. "So what's your point?"

I sighed. "I wonder sometimes what you think of me. How do you see me as a person."

"I'm not sure what you're getting at. I think you are a great person. I really look up to you if you want to know."

"Did you ever consider that I might have some skeletons in my closet too?"

"Well, nobody is perfect. But you seem like a pretty straight up guy to me. I don't guess you've ever done anything to be too ashamed of."

"Well that's the thing Marco. I have done some things that I'm not at all proud of and it bothers me that you might think less of me if you knew about them. Maybe I have not been as honest with you as you have been with me."

Marco nodded. "So you are afraid that if I knew everything about you I wouldn't love you?"

"Yes, maybe I do worry about that. I'm afraid maybe you have me on a pedestal."

"Hey, don't tell me anything you don't want me to know. I don't really care what you've done."

"But maybe I feel bad about some of those things. Maybe I need to tell you so I don't have to worry about them anymore.

I turned in my chair to look at Marco. "How did you feel after you told me those things about your mother – after you told me about Grant? You were afraid I wouldn't respect you, but I did. How did that make you feel?"

Marco looked thoughtful. "I felt good, not good maybe, but relieved I guess. I probably would never talked about that stuff, but you sort of pulled it out of me. To be honest, I felt like a big weight had been lifted off me. I wasn't worried about what I did so much as I was afraid you would find out about it."

"Right. My point is that I am carrying around some things that I don't want you to know and it bothers me that I have not been honest with you. I think I am sort of where you were, but I've been putting that off." I forced a smile. "Maybe I need for you to pull some things out of me."

Marco waited a moment, then asked. "So what did you do, kill somebody?"

"No, not like that. But I might not be the upstanding guy you think I am."

"OK, so now I'm curious. What's bothering you? I mean, we're both gay, I think I can relate."

I took a deep breath. "When I was in high school I guess I knew I was gay. I found other guys more attractive than girls. But I didn't want to be gay. I couldn't accept it, so I pretended to be mister straight arrow. There were a couple of guys that I messed around with – we jerked off together and even jerked off each other. I pretended like it it was no big thing, like we were just horny and were helping each other get off, but it was a lot more than that for me. I liked it, really liked it. I wanted to do more."

Marco nodded. "Yeah?"

"So there was this guy my age, his name was Phil. He was gay too I think, but we never talked about it. He was kind of feminine, you know? I didn't really like to hang out with him because the other guys thought maybe he was queer, but I would go over to his house and we played around with each other."

"How old were you then?" Marco asked.

"I don't know, 15, 16. We did that for a long time. After he got his drivers license we would go out in his car and find some place private. He was the first guy I sucked off. We would do stuff other, like play with our dicks then take turns sucking each other off. I didn't even like Phil, but I loved to suck his cock. I think I liked that better than when he sucked me, you know?" I watched Marco's face.

"OK, what else?" He nodded but his face was composed.

"Well, I liked it, but I felt really guilty about it. I was so afraid that someone else would find out what we were doing. I was afraid that my mother would find out. It really bothered me, but we still got together and played around a lot. We would get naked and rub our cocks together and stuff. I let him cum in my mouth and I liked that too. He wouldn't let me cum in his mouth and I thought he was the one who was queer, you know? I was doing more and more things. I didn't like the guy. I just liked the sex."

Marco nodded but made no comment other than to say, "Go on."

"Alright, so I did that stuff, and more. When I was a senior in high school I was in a mall restroom taking a piss, and this guy came in and stood next to me. He was a little older, maybe in his early thirties I guess. He started looking over at my dick and when I looked back, I saw he had an erection. That got me hard and I leaned back so he could see me. He reached over, took hold of my cock and started to stroke me. I shot almost immediately. I don't think I was ever so turned on before in my life."

"Then what did he do?"

"As soon as I shot he slung my cum off his hand and left. He grabbed a paper towel on his way out and just left me standing there dripping my wad in the urinal. But I liked it, Marco. I wanted to do it again. So I started hanging out in toilets, pretending to piss. There were other men who like to look and wanted to feel me and play with me. I felt them too. It was scary because I was afraid of getting caught, but that just made it more exciting. There was one time I sucked this kid off and let him cum in my mouth. He couldn't have been more than 14."

I took a deep breath and decided to go on. "One time a guy asked me to leave with him and we went out to his car and blew each other in the parking lot. Another time a guy took me to his apartment and we got naked on his sofa. We blew each other then he wanted to fuck me. I had never ever done that before, Marco. I kind of wanted to try it but I was afraid. He tried to do it but when he got part way in it hurt like hell and I bucked him off. That really scared me and I got dressed and left in a hurry."

"Then I discovered the parks. There are places where guys hang out, looking for other guys who want quick sex. It was like in the mall, guys meet for sex and a quick jerk off or blow job. I started to hang out there a lot. I never had any idea who those guys were and didn't want to know. I let guys come sit with me in my car and we would jerk off together. We never said anything, we just got off and then the guy would be gone. Later I felt ashamed, but then I'd go right back. One time I saw a guy I knew from school and he turned and walked away. When we saw each other the next day in class we acted like it never happened, although I think we were both embarrassed by it.

Marco never changed expression. He just looked at me and nodded. I felt like I was going to puke but I went on.

"Then when I was 18, I met Philip. I told you about him. I thought I really liked him and while I was going with him I quit doing the toilets and did all kinds of things with Philip. He was nice looking and he was sweet to me. He said he loved me and I told him I loved him, but really I was just saying what I thought he wanted to hear. It was exciting while it lasted and then he found someone else and dumped me. I moped around for awhile then went back to looking for anonymous sex. I wanted guys were just looking to get their rocks off. That's all I thought I wanted. I was depressed and I started to drink a lot, and started smoking too."

I looked at Marco, waiting for him to react with disgust, but he just looked back at me and kept nodding his head slowly. Finally he reacted. "So who was the first guy to fuck you?"

I winced at the directness of his question. "Philip – Philip was my first, and it hurt like hell. He told me I would learn to like it but I never did. I let him do it because he said he loved me. But really, I think the idea of being in love just gave me an excuse. He told me he loved me, and then he dumped me. He was the only one, Marco. The only one until you."

Marco frowned. "Did I hurt you? Did it hurt when I did you?"

"No, it didn't hurt. I thought it would hurt, but it was different with you. I wanted it with you, and it seemed right somehow. Maybe I was more relaxed with you, I don't know."

He shook his head, "I thought you had done that lots of times before."

"No. I had done everything else a lot of times before. but not that. But don't you understand? I did anonymous toilet sex with dozens of guys, I don't even know how many,"

I leaned over feeling sick, " Don't you see, I'm the slut Marco, not you."

He looked at me and nodded again. The expression on his face was one of compassion, not disgust. "What else do you want me to know?" he asked quietly.

I took a breath then let it out. "That night in the park, I thought you were hot. I offered to take you home hoping I could have sex with you, that's all. I wanted to feel you up and maybe suck you off, and figured I would never see you again. But that's not what happened is it?"

Marco shook his head. "No that wasn't it at all, was it?"

"No. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but to me you were a real person, not just some guy to get off with. God knows, we had good sex, but there was so much more to it than that. We really talked to each other, you came home with me, and within a day I think I fell in love with you. For the first time in my life I found something that felt real and honest. I found you Marco."

I felt tears on my face. When I looked at Marco I saw that his eyes were wet too.

"I don't know what happened Marco. After you came I didn't want to do those kinds of things any more. It was like I found what I had been looking for. I didn't want anybody else." I choked out a twisted smile," I just wanted you."

Now Marco's face was streaked with tears. His expression was sad, but not for himself. "Is that what you wanted to tell me?"

"Yeah, I guess that's it. Marco, I'm not who you thought I was. You see, I'm not really a very nice person."

Marco was shaking his head. "I know who you are Marty. I don't care who you were or what you did before I met you. I did some things too. I didn't tell you everything I ever did."

"Aren't you disappointed in me?"

Marco looked at me with love on his face, "I told you what I thought about that. I think God sent you to save me from all kinds of terrible things. If that's true, and I really think it is, how can you be used by God to do something so good and not be changed yourself? There's something going on here that neither of us really understands."

He got up and sat in my lap, wrapping his arms around me. "I love you Marty. Nothing you said, nothing you have ever done could keep me from loving you. You just make me realize that we are so much alike. We are both messed up. I know it sounds corny, but I think we are meant for each other. We are meant to be together."

"Oh Marco," I cried, "I don't deserve you."

"I don't deserve you either," he tried to explain. "That's the God part."

We held each other for a long time. I relaxed and felt at peace with myself in a way that I had not for a very long time. Perhaps I had dealt with my own demons.

"I think you're right Marco. I think we are meant for each other." I looked in his eyes. "For a kid who had a lot of problems with religion, I think you understand this God thing a lot better than I do."

I couldn't think of anything else to say so I just held him in my arms and was thankful for him.

Finally he pushed me away gently. "Hey, it's a beautiful day. Want to go for a bike ride?"

"Yes," I sniffed. "that's a great idea. Let's do it."

We rode over to the Rivertrail next to the Arkansas River and all the way down past the big Indian casino to 101st Street, stopped for a soda at a convenience store and then started back. It was a long ride and my legs were tired, but it felt good. I followed Marco, admiring his strong back and beautiful body as I rode behind him. I felt so thankful for this beautiful, wise young man. I was the one who needed to learn from him.

His faith was so simple, so true, and I loved him so much. I really believed he had it right. We had been sent to each other, saved by each other from lives that were going in the wrong directions, and were now felt clean and healthy. It was a very good thing, almost miraculous. If I had not understood that before, Marco made it clear to me.

Soon Marco was getting ready to graduate from high school. I came home one afternoon from work to find him smiling, proudly wearing a rented cap and gown brought home from school. He was standing just inside the apartment, waiting for me with his arms outstretched for my inspection.

"We don't get the tassel until the ceremony," he explained. "Mine will be gold because I'm such a stud," he grinned. "I have to return the suit but I get to keep the tassel."

"Man, I wouldn't miss that for the world," I assured him.

"Father Hoover told me he would come and see me graduate," he said. "How cool is that?"

"You are such a stud," I had to admit.

The graduation was on a Sunday afternoon. At the church service that morning, Father Hoover recognized the graduates in the congregation, making a little extra fuss over Marco.

Marco had his own little cheering section at the graduation ceremony. I was there, Fr. Hoover was there, even Wayne and David were there. He had graduated with honors and was recognized for his TCC scholarship among other things. Mr. Blankenship made a point of seeking him out and shaking his hand after the ceremony. Fr. Hoover excused himself after the ceremony but the rest of us went to Hideaway Pizza to celebrate. Marco was beaming.

"I'm glad you guys could come," he told us.

It was a happy time. We lingered for awhile, Marco passing his gold tassel around for us to admire. By the time we got back to the apartment it was late.

"It has been quite a day for you," I said.

"You had a lot to do with this, you know," he said modestly.

"I just cheered you on. You did it all yourself," I reminded him.

"I'm kind of tired," Marco said. Would you like to take a shower?"

Of course I would. We undressed and went through our familiar ritual. He adjusted the water and waited for me to get in. I washed him, lathering his beautiful hair and carefully washing him from head to toe, and everywhere in between. After he rinsed and I inspected those places where soap might be lingering, he washed me.

The shower dance was very special to us. It was a form of extended foreplay and very intimate. It occurred to me that washing Marco's body was a loving thing, and something very enjoyable. But allowing him to wash me was even more intimate. There was something trusting about it. I thought about the foot washing ceremony that was part of our Lenten custom at church. I had always been told that allowing your feet to be washed was more difficult than washing the feet of another. I thought it was true, although I had never taken part in that ritual. I decided that perhaps next year Marco and I should go up and volunteer to be part of that. I began to see an almost worshipful element in our showers – very loving, very trustful. It was part of what bound us together. Sex and love and intimacy were all part of the same thing for us.

We took turns drying each other then went into the bedroom and lay coupled together, our skin warm and damp between us. It was such a tender thing when we made love. I wanted to pleasure him and he pleasured me, each very attentive to the needs of the other. This too was almost a sacramental activity. I wondered if that thought was blasphemous but put the idea aside for now.

I loved this boy with all my heart. We kissed and explored mouths with tongues, sucked on lips, kissed eyes, cheeks and necks. We lingered over each others faces, stopping to look and smile. I suckled his nipples, ran my tongue down the fine line of hair from his navel to the pubic hair above his penis, and suckled that too until he arched his back and moaned. He raised his knees to receive my mouth against his hairless ass and slobber him very wet. He loved that, and I was in no hurry to proceed until he began to make the movements that told me he was ready for me to enter him.

I rubbed his hole with the head of my penis until he thrust against me, his body begging for mine, then moved gently inside him. I could feel him shiver and saw his face break out into a smile. I tried to make it last, moving slowly and gently, trying to find just the right spot to make him gasp with pleasure.

We stopped and he went to his hands and knees, arching his rear up to receive me again, this time I plunged even deeper and was rewarded by his incoherent mumbles of pleasure. Clearly he was enjoying this as much or more than I, while I was in ecstasy as his beautiful body pressed into mine. After a few attempts to prolong my orgasm he squeezed and wiggled and I could hold off no longer. I emptied myself into him, holding him tight in my arms. He collapsed onto his belly and we lay like that for quite a few minutes before he turned over and looked at me.

"Are you sure it doesn't hurt when I do you?" he asked. "I wouldn't want to hurt you Marty."

"Oh no, you never hurt me, it feels wonderful when you do it to me. Do I hurt you?"

"Oh hell no. I love it. It feels so great. It makes me feel good all over."

"Then do me like that," I smiled.

I turned over and raised my ass up for him to get me ready. By now he was an expert at this stage of preparation. He kissed and tongued my ass, sucking on my hole and making me feel relaxed and wonderful. I let him know I was ready and he rose up and pressed himself against my entrance, pushing slowly and gently, and slid into me with a sigh. There was no pain, only an exquisite feeling of fullness. In truth he was not as large as I was and I could have accommodated him even if he had been larger. I realized he was exactly the right size, a perfect fit as he stroked me from the inside. I had never known greater pleasure and tried to maneuver him to play against my prostate in a way that I knew was good for him as well. When he began to tense and I knew that he was getting close to climax, I stopped and rolled over on my back.

"I want to look at you," I told him. "I want to look at your beautiful face."

I raised my knees and saw that he was smiling. His hair was cascading around his face and sweeping over my chest while he entered me again. The feeling of his hair against my body was almost as pleasurable as the feeling of him inside me. He was thrusting with passion now, in as deep as he was able, then out almost to the point of withdrawing then back in again. I wanted him almost to the point of madness, gripped his butt cheeks and pulled him hard against me as I felt him let go. His face fell to my chest and his hair went all awry. He pressed his face against mine and slobbered over my chest as he pushed himself into my ass, gasping and crying out with the intensity of his orgasm.

Again we lay still. He was breathing hard and gently kissied my nipples. Yes, this was a spiritual experience, blasphemy or not, and I was thankful for it. We were in no hurry to uncouple and lay like that until he shrank and fell from me. Then we kissed some more, gentle kisses on lips and cheeks.

I could hear him whispering, "I love you Marty. I am so glad we found each other."

Before I could respond we fell asleep in each others arms.

Now that high school was behind him, Marco threw himself into his classes at the Junior College. Not content to go part time he enrolled in 9 hours, a full load for the summer. He carefully selected those classes that would be required for a degree at Oklahoma State and would fully transfer, He didn't want to waste any time.

He scheduled all his classes for Monday, Wednesday and Friday and arranged to ride the courier service for Mercer on Tuesday and Thursday. In addition, he still worked weekend nights for Luigi. I advised him that he was trying to do way too much, but he assured me that he could handle it. I figured if anybody could, it was probably Marco. He was smart and willing to work very hard. My admiration for him only increased.

I dropped by one Tuesday afternoon to check on him and chatted with his boss while Marco was out on a run.

"Hey Mercer. How are things?" I asked him.

"We're doing okay," he replied. "I have missed Marco. That boy is something else."

"Oh, yeah? In a good way I hope."

"I have nothing to say about Marco but good things. He shows up on time and makes his deliveries faster than anybody. He is prompt and polite and the customers love him. I wish he had time to work for me full time. He is really a great kid."

"Yes he is," I agreed. "You know he is going to TCC full time while he is working for you, don't you?"

"Yeah, that's what he said. Where does he find the time?"

"I don't know. He is just very disciplined," I said.

I tried to tell Marco that he would burn himself out at this pace but he shrugged me off.

"Riding for the courier service is a break from school,"he explained. "When I am riding I don't think about my classes. Besides, I need the exercise."

What could I say? He was his own boss.

Near the end of June we acknowledged that we had been together for a whole year and declared it an anniversary of sorts. I took him out for a nice dinner at the Outback Steak House where we pigged out on a blooming onion and big steaks, and toasted ourselves with big glasses of iced tea.

We had shared with each other those things that we had kept hidden from all others, and now there seemed to be no barriers between us. We enjoyed a level of openness that set us free. Our routine kept us very busy but we worked together on everything.

As busy as he was, Marco assumed the cooking duties when he could. When he could not, our dinners were barely adequate but he never complained. I became the dishwasher and housemaid, leaving him time for the considerable schoolwork that went with his heavy academic load. He persevered and his grades were excellent. He was handling everything just as he said he would. Marco was very strong in his quiet way.

Saturdays I insisted on making as nice a breakfast as I knew how, and tried to let him get some extra sleep. He spent much of the day completing school projects that were coming up in the next week. He was a very busy guy. What little social life we had was now nonexistent. I worried about him and tried to do as much as I could to free up some time for him. It was a busy time for us both.

At my insistence, Sundays were our day of rest. We slept in, went to church and made a breakfast out of what goodies were to be found at the coffee hour after the service. Sunday afternoons I tried to find something fun for us to do. We took little drives to wherever we thought looked interesting. A few times we went out to the lake for a quick swim, Marco proudly demonstrating that his time with the YMCA swimming lessons had been well spent. Sometimes we sought the cool interior of the movies and saw whatever was available at the dollar shows.

Marco's counselor from high school continued to help him with applications for financial assistance and saw that he would qualify for a generous Pell grant at OSU based on his good scholarship and financial need. The obstacle of gaining his mother's cooperation evaporated when Mr. Blankenship met with her and explained that her cooperation was not optional. The details of his conversation with her were not discussed, but Blankenship was a big fellow whose personality was as persuasive as his size. Marco's mother provided everything that was required. When he had all he needed from the Junior college, he would be ready for OSU.

One of the advantages of keeping very busy is that it makes time pass quickly. Marco enrolled in 18 hours for the fall semester. He was clicking off his required classes for OSU at a good rate. He seemed to be able to compartmentalize his activities so that whatever he was doing was the focus of his complete attention. He amazed me although I continued to fuss about his trying to do too much.

"I'm OK, really," he assured me. "I like to be busy. Besides the classes at TCC are not that tough. It's like high school. A lot of the other students are not well prepared and the instructors take things slow and explain things really well. I think I am learning enough, but it isn't all that hard. The courier service was kind of fun, and Luigi's is good money. I have to save up for OSU next year. This is my chance, Marty. I have to do this."

Near the end of the summer he had a week before classes were to start again at TCC. He had already enrolled, purchased his books and was ready for classes to begin. We decided that a small vacation was in order. The idea of another fishing trip with our friend Bobby sounded tempting, but time and finances dictated a more modest agenda.

We drove over to Lake Wedington straight east of Tulsa just into Arkansas and rented a little cabin for 4 days. It is a small but beautiful little lake surround by a hardwood forest with a 7 mile hiking trail that encircles the perimeter. The cabins were built by the WPA back in the 1930's and were constructed from large shaped native stones, a single layer thick with big stone fireplaces. Despite their rustic appearance they had been fitted with a modern kitchen and a bathroom with a shower. It was nice to see the shower. It was also nice to find that the cabins were air conditioned. All the comforts of home in a rustic environment.

We took bacon and eggs for breakfast, and fruit and sandwich makings for lunch. This was a little vacation and Marco was relieved of his cooking duties, except for breakfast. He preferred to cook our breakfast rather than endure mine. We would drive into nearby Fayetteville for dinner where there were many nice places to eat.

We hiked around the lake, walked in the woods and spotted a flock of wild turkeys. There was a nice swimming beach where we horsed around between half hearted attempts at swimming. We were not interested in anything strenuous, but played like a couple of little kids. We checked out a set of horseshoes from the office and laughed at our inability to pitch them into the pits, let alone around the stakes. An older man watched with amusement and offered to give us some pointers. It seemed to make a difference in how the shoe was held, and in the approach before the swing. True to form, Marco began to zero in and beat me handily.

To tell the truth, a good part of our time was spent in either the shower or the bed, making up for lost time as we honed our skills at the dance. We had not forgotten how. Good sex is very relaxing.

It was a nice break in our busy routine. On the way home I asked Marco, "Did you enjoy that?"

"Yes, I did. I guess I have been pretty caught up in school and work. It was nice to get away for a few days."

"You know, you don't have to kill yourself. You are only 17, you will be 18 in a few months. I can't tell you what to do kiddo, but I worry about you."

Marco looked over and smiled at me. "I know. I appreciate that. You have been great Marty. You have picked up a lot of the slack so that I can do this. I won't let you down."

I reached over and squeezed his knee. "We are in this together Marco. You realize that this is about you, not me."

Marco nodded. " I suppose, but sometimes it feels like it is too much about me. I mean, you work hard too. I know you have a lot of responsibility on your job, but you take off work to do things for me and are helping me so much right now. I kind of feel bad about that."

"Why? Don't you feel like you're worth it? What you are doing right now will set you up for your future. I am just trying to help you get through this."

Marco looked out the window. "I guess that is a new idea for me. I'm not used to it."

He looked over and smiled at me. "I love you Marty. Just let me get through the next two semesters. I'll feel better when I am past the preparation stage and really working on a degree. You know, I still don't know where that's going."

"How do you mean?"

"I mean picking a major. I don't know what I want to do when I grow up." He grinned, "I might decide to be a fireman."

"You would make a good firemen if you decided to do that," I laughed. "But you would probably run into the fire and burn yourself up trying to put it out all by yourself."

"Well, okay, maybe not a firemen," he smiled. "But do you know I would have to graduate college just to be a firemen in Tulsa? I guess that degree really is important. Actually I think I want to know more about computers. One of the TCC classes I will take this semester is an introduction to computers."

"You haven't told me what classes you're enrolled in."

"Oh – well, the computer class, and English composition, Calculus I, Government, US History I, and Physics."

I blinked. "Oh, is that all? That's a hell of a load, Marco."

"Those are all required classes. I think I can do this but I guess we'll find out. You'll see Marty, I can do it"

We got back to Tulsa just before time for Marco to begin his Friday night at Luigi's. It was back to the grind and classes started for him on Monday. It was time to shift into high gear. We spent the rest of the weekend doing laundry and cleaning house like an old married couple.

As I thought about our relationship I realized that we needed to come to a decision about our status. At least I had to make a decision. Marco had already defined his position on that subject. Although I had expressed my intentions with a proposal of sorts, we had left that discussion open.

Very recently there had been two major events that would serve to reopen that discussion. The Supreme Court of the United States struck down a lower court decision banning gay marriage, essentially overturning all such bans throughout the country. A week later at their national convention in Salt Lake City, the Episcopal church had ruled to accept gay marriage. There appeared now to be no legal obstacle which would prevent us from marrying. It was clear that Marco was ready to take this step and my objections had been primarily based on his age. He would turn 18 in October and we needed to talk about this again. But before we did, I wanted to have a conversation with our priest, Father Hoover.

After church on Sunday I took Fr. Hoover aside to ask his opinion on the matter.

"Could we speak privately about something," I asked him.

"Of course, would you like to step into my office?"

Once in in the privacy of his office I hesitated, then posed my question. "Sir, I believe you are aware that Marco and I are more than just friends."

He smiled. "Yes, I gathered as much. Marco and I had a little conversation about that."

"Well sir, in view of the recent decisions by the Supreme Court and of the church, I wanted to know where you stood on the subject."

"He smiled again. "Are the two of you making some plans to formalize your relationship?"

I hesitated again. "Yes, actually, we have talked about it. How would you feel about that?"

"If you are asking if I would marry you, the answer is that I would be happy to do so. Of course I would require that the two of you meet me for premarital counseling just as I would for any couple making such an important decision."

I felt a wave of both relief and a certain apprehension. I had reached a point of no return. "Well sir, there is the matter of Marco's age. You see he is only 17."

Hoover nodded. "I see. And when will he be of legal age?"

"His birthday is October 22nd," I told him.

Father Hoover smiled. "Would you like to set a date for a November wedding?"

Now the ball was in my court. Was I serious about this or would I waffle? I cleared my throat. "I think I would like that, and I know that Marco would. I do need to have a conversation with my mother. I'm not sure how she will take this."

Father looked a bit concerned for the first time. "Does your mother know about you and Marco?"

"Yes Sir. We visited her at Christmas. She met Marco and we told her that we loved each other. I don't know that she was thrilled, but she seemed willing to accept us. She is a lovely person and I think she will be alright with this decision. I can't say she would have chosen this for me, but.... She did say that she wanted me to be happy, that she wanted both of us to be happy."

He nodded. "I understand. That is a matter for you to work out with your mother. After the two of you have completed your plans and are ready to proceed, I will be most happy to discuss this with you again. It is a very important decision."

He leaned back and his chair and smiled. "I think the most important thing for you to decide is what is best for you, and for Marco. My personal opinion is that you are both very good people, and like your mother, I wish you both to be happy. Marriage is an important and life changing decision. Be sure that it's the right decision for you both."

He paused and I realized that the initial part of our conversation had concluded.

"Thank you sir. You have told me what I needed to know. I appreciate your counsel very much."

He chuckled and stood. "Be assured that I will give you more counsel when we talk about this again. In the meantime I suggest that the two of you pray about this. I will certainly pray that you make the right decision. I wish you the best."

I went back out into the Parish Hall to find Marco. He was sitting in what was now an almost empty room.

"Where have you been?" he asked with concern. "You disappeared on me."

"I was talking to Father Hoover," I explained.

"Yeah? What was that about?" he asked.

I took a deep breath. "We need to talk."

We walked out to the car and started for home.

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