Marco in the Park

by Nick Brady

Part 15

We stood in our little apartment holding on to each other for dear life. Any reservations we might have had about not being accepted by our friends were gone forever. We had just experienced a beautiful wedding in a church full of well wishers, most of whom we did not even know except in passing. My dear mother had put her misgivings aside and help us stage a wedding that any married couple would have been proud of. Marco and I looked terrific and neither of us fainted or puked. Father Hoover conducted the ceremony with great dignity and obvious pleasure. Now we stood in a room full of gifts from the generous members of St. Jerome's. We had expected perhaps a few things from our friends in the wedding party but we would never have dreamed that so many people wanted to help make our day so special.

The first thing we did was race to the bathroom to empty our quivering bladders. The next was to locate pencil and paper and begin to go through the cards and gifts to begin to try and thank these good people who were so kind and supportive.

"What is all this stuff?" Marco wondered. "We didn't tell anybody we needed anything."

"It's a mystery to me," I replied. "Somebody must have come up with something."

We methodically started to open cards and gifts, writing down the names of the givers and stacking them in some semblance of order. A surprising number contained a place setting of nice dishes, all of the same pattern. Other boxes contained serving dishes to match. There were 3 cartons of nice glassware, 3 different styles in 8 glass sets.

"Somebody set us up with a gift registry," I guessed. We ended up with a complete service for 8 including platters, serving dishes and a gravy boat.

Marco grinned. "I bet your mother had something to do with this."

There was a good set of stainless steel cookware, a Keurig coffee maker and a couple of cartons of the premeasured packets of coffee. We got a nice toaster oven big enough to roast a turkey in. There was a blender, a Kitchenaid mixer, an 8 place set of heavy stainless steel tableware, kitchen knives, serving spoons, even a big box of paper towels and toilet paper.

"We've already got some of this stuff," I said.

"Yeah, but this didn't come out of Goodwill like our stuff. This is nice," Marco pointed out.

"We are being set up to do proper housekeeping," I realized.

Wayne and David gave us a waffle iron. Mercer sent a set of embroidered dish towels that his wife had made with our names stitched in the corners. Luigi sent a set of pizza pans. Mom gave us a pretty white tablecloth with matching napkins. We were ready for a dinner party although we had no place to stage it.

There were a lot of wedding cards, most containing a small sum of money. Most of the cards were traditional and sentimental, a few were funny. We sat on the sofa and looked through them.

"This is just amazing," I shook my head. "The first thing we will need is a stack of thank you cards and a roll of stamps."

Marco was chuckling at one of the cards. "And we were afraid people would object to our wedding."

I waved my hands over the neat stack of dishes and kitchen items. "We don't even have room for all this stuff."

"We will," Marco smiled."We will end up with a bigger place and it will be nice to have this. We can invite some friends over and set a really nice table."

"You're right of course. We won't always be in a little one bedroom apartment. When you get out of school we will get a bigger apartment, maybe even a house someday," I leaned back and tried to look into the future.

Marco nodded. "This is all so new, it's hard to predict where we will be in a few years. When I get out of college I can get a real job and we will have more money. We can start thinking about a lot of things."

I agreed. "You need to be thinking about a car right now," I suggested. "That bicycle isn't going to get you everywhere you need to go for much longer. It's a pretty good distance to school and back."

"Wow, my own car. That sounds exciting." Marco grinned. "What was your first car?"

I laughed. "When I was 17, I inherited my mother's 10 year old Buick. It was a real beater, but it had wheels and it ran. I was proud of that old clunker. I polished it up and drove it all around."

"How long did you have it?"

"I drove it until I was in college. I always worked and I was living at home with Mom so I had a little money. That's when I bought my Toyota. It was starting to cost a lot to keep the old Buick running and it wasn't worth it, so I bought a newer used car."

"Yeah, that's what I need to do. I wonder how much car I can get for $8,000? That's about what I have in the bank."

"Have you got that much? That's enough to buy a pretty nice car."

Marco looked at me. "You won't let me pay for rent so I just stick money in the bank. Maybe I will need it for tuition later, but the scholarship at TCC has got me covered right now."

"You are still working and will be putting more in the bank. You are good for the next semester, why don't you start looking for a car?" I suggested.

"That's exciting, Maybe I will start looking at ads," Marco said.

"We get a paper every day. See what you can find."

The next day we poured over the paper looking for a suitable car for Marco. We found several possibilities and also an article that surprised us.

"Hey, we're famous," Marco showed me an article in the local section.

"How is that?" I asked.

"Look, we got our picture in the paper."

Sure enough, there was a photograph of the two of us at our wedding, getting ready to cut the cake. Beneath the photo was a brief article making a big deal out of the fact that we were a gay couple in a nice wedding and how unusual that was for Tulsa.

"Gay couples get married all the time." Marco pointed out.

"Well, maybe not in Tulsa. It's a good picture though," I admired us in our matching suits. I clipped it out to send to my mother.

We didn't think much about it until over the next several days when some hate letters appeared in the letters to the editor column. They were from some fundamental religious people talking about what a disgrace it was to corrupt the institution of marriage. They were quite insulting to all concerned.

"I suppose we might have expected that," I told Marco.

He was clearly disappointed. "What business is it of theirs?"

"I don't know, but they seem to be threatened by it."

"But how does that hurt anybody? We have every right to marry. Even the supreme court says so," he argued.

"Read the rest of it," I said. "They want to impeach the justices."

"Oh, that's stupid."

"Well, I guess stupid people are entitled to their opinion," I pointed out.

"I guess. It kind of makes me nervous though. What if we get some protesters or something like that. It makes me remember that preacher that said that God hates fags, remember?"

"I remember. But what we did was perfectly legal. Don't worry about it."

Marco didn't say anything more, but he was clearly a little upset. We went on to look at car ads and found a couple that looked interesting. He was curious about a Mazda 3 and a Honda Fit.

"Those are both good little cars," I told him. "They should be dependable and good on gas. You should get them checked out to be sure they don't have some kind of cancer."

He laughed. "I should, but I don't know anything about cars. How would I do that?"

"Why don't you ask Mercer?" He seems to be sharp about that kind of thing," I suggested.

"Good idea. I can at least ask him."

We had put the hate letters out of our mind when on Wednesday morning we heard a racket outside our apartment. Standing outside the entrance was a small flock of protesters with a number of banners quoting Leviticus and shouting that we should be ashamed of ourselves and other such upsetting epithets. Marco was frightened, and retreated back into the apartment.

"Hey, they can't do that, can they?" he asked me.

"I guess it's a free country, but there are limits on what they can do." I assured him.

We stepped back inside to consider our options. "What can we do?" Marco wondered.

"I am calling the police. They can't prevent us from leaving our own home."

I picked up the phone and called the law, explaining what was going on. I was told that an officer would be dispatched immediately. Within minutes a black and white cruiser pulled up with two uniformed policemen. They assessed the situation then while one of them stood with us, the other went to talk to the protesters. There was a brief discussion then he came back to join us.

"They are within their rights to protest you," he told us, "but they have to remain 100 feet away from you. You have rights too."

"Well what if they don't do that?" a frightened Marco asked the police man.

"Then we will arrest them," he explained. "They are also prohibited from making any physical contact with you. They may try to intimidate you but I don't think you are in any danger." He looked rather apologetic. "Sorry, but that's the way it works."

I was quick to thank them for coming so soon and for their assistance. "We appreciate your help. This is quite upsetting for us."

"We are just doing our job, sir." Then he added. "I have my own opinion of these things, but the law is the law."

After another conversation with the protesters they reluctantly went to the other side of the street and down to a point indicated by the policeman. They continued to wave their signs around but we no longer felt so threatened. The policeman came back to assure us that they would keep an eye on things, then left.

We sat inside the apartment for a few more minutes while Marco composed himself. I made another phone call, this time to Father Hoover. I wasn't sure what he could do, but I knew he was our friend and wanted him to know what was happening. He was very sympathetic.

We gathered up our things for the day and left, Marco to school, and I to work. When we returned in the evening we saw an amazing sight. Another larger group made up of members of St. Jerome's had appeared, led by the imposing figure of Father Hoover. They had a few quickly made signs and were singing hymns. The signs were quotes from the teachings of Jesus which we assumed would take precedent over Leviticus. Father Hoover followed us into our apartment.

"It is a pleasure to visit with you in your home, although I regret the circumstances," he said. "Like all bullies, these misguided people will tire of this quickly. Please don't be frightened." he smiled.

Marco was in tears. "I can't believe you came to help us. Thank you Father."

Father Hoover took Marco in his arms and comforted him. "God loves you young man, and so do I. We must remember that God loves the protesters as well. They are doing what they believe is right, even if we know better."

After a few words of encouragement, he went back out. We noticed that he stopped to speak to the protesters again. After a little time they grew quiet and began to leave. We saw them no more.

Relieved to have the ugly event behind us, Marco still seemed to be in a solemn mood.

"What's the matter Marco? That ended up pretty well with Fr. Hoover's help."

"I know it did. We owe him a lot," he admitted. "But to tell the truth there is something else that kind of bothers me."

"What's that?" I asked.

Marco went to the place where he kept his few documents. He pulled out his birth certificate and handed it to me. I had never really looked at it.

I read it aloud, "Marco Antonio Garcia – Mother, Maria Garcia, Father, unknown."

I looked at him. "I never knew your middle name was Antonio."

He pointed at the paper again. "Who was my father?"

I hesitated, "It just says unknown. You already told me you didn't know who your father was."

Marco looked angry. "What this says is that I'm officially a bastard child. They had to give me the name of my whore mother. I have always hated my name"

"I'm sorry, you never said anything. I like the name Marco."

He shook his head, "Marco is fine, it is the Garcia that I hate. Whenever people see that they figure I'm Hispanic. There's nothing wrong with being Hispanic, but I don't identify that way. I don't want to be Marco Garcia."

He sat down next to me and almost pleaded. "When people get married, don't they change their names? I mean at least one of them does. I am married to Marty Montgomery. Why can't I be Marco Montgomery?"

He caught me by surprise. "Well sure, you could do that. We never talked about it, I guess I thought you wanted to keep your name. It wasn't like you were the bride, you didn't need to. Sometimes brides keep their name the same anyway."

I wrapped my arms around him and held him tight. "That would be great. It would kind of make us official, don't you think?"

Marco hugged me back. "Well, I didn't think you would want to be Marty Garcia."

"No," I Laughed. "I don't guess I would, not that there is anything wrong with that."

I held him at arms length. "Lets get your name changed, Mr. Marco Antonio Montgomery. I like the sound of that."

Marco smiled and nodded his head vigorously. "Yes, let's do that. I think that sounds great."

The next day, Marco made some calls in response to the car ads, and also to his friend Mercer. Yes, Mercer knew a few things about used cars and told us some things to look for. When Marco settled on a dark blue 2007 Honda Fit for sale by the owner, he looked it over carefully and drove it. When he decided it seemed to be in good condition, he called Mercer who agreed to come and check it out.

Mercer crawled underneath and shook the exhaust pipe and muffler. He started the engine, opened the hood and raced the motor while listening closely for any unusual noises. He checked the engine oil and transmission fluid dipsticks then examined the film of lubricants between his thumb and forefinger. They took it for a long drive. Mercer accelerated hard, then braked quickly. He took his hands from the wheel and braked again. He found some rough pavement and carefully listened for any unusual sounds coming from the suspension. His inspection was very thorough. After questioning the owner on service and repairs Mercer gave the old car his blessing.

The asking price was negotiated and finally an agreement was reached. Marco had pulled out a sizable amount of cash and found that a pocket full of cash money seemed to simplify the bargaining process. Marco spent the weekend with a can of car wax and a bottle of upholstery cleaner and emerged on Sunday afternoon with what looked like a new car. He was very excited.

"What do you think, Marty? Do you think I got a good deal?"

"I think it's a beauty. It runs like a sewing machine and you have it looking great. If you take care of it you should get a lot of service out of it."

Marco beamed with pride and took us to the Sonic for hot dogs and tots. He was busy adjusting the radio and pointing out the car's better features. "I bet I get 30 miles to the gallon out of this baby," he predicted.

Soon it was December and we began to discuss plans for the week between Christmas and New Year.

"We should do something neat like we did last year. I mean, we never did anything after the wedding. This could be our honeymoon," he grinned.

"That's right, it is. What would you like to do?"

"I don't know," he smiled. "Would you like to go see Bobby?"

"That's a long drive down there and back. Are you sure you want to spent so much time in the car?"

Marco looked thoughtful. "Well, if we take a week, we will spend 4 days of it driving to South Padre and back. As much as I would like to go fishing with Bobby again, that is a lot of time on the road. But then again, I could test drive my Honda."

I laughed. "If that's really what you want to do then it's okay with me, but that is a long drive just to go fishing for a couple of days."

Marco shrugged. "Maybe we could do that another time. You suggest something. I have never been anywhere. I don't know where to go."

"How about we ask David and Wayne to suggest somewhere. They like to take trips. Maybe they can suggest someplace nice where we'll be welcome. We don't need any more protesters." I reminded him.

Marco rolled his eyes. "That's for sure. Let's talk to Wayne and David."

I gave our friends a call and told them we were looking for a gay friendly place for a little honeymoon during the Christmas break. We were encouraged to come over to their house to talk about it, saying they had plenty of ideas for us and maybe even some brochures. The promise of an informal dinner convinced us and we drove over to their house. When we arrived Wayne was starting to fix something for supper and David was sipping on a glass of wine.

"A honeymoon? Oh how romantic," David gushed.

"Well, it's traditional," I explained. "We are trying to decide where we want to go. We talked about going back down to South Padre Island but decided that is just too far away."

"How far are you willing to go? I mean to drive?" David giggled.

I glanced at Marco who was rolling his eyes. "I think we would like to get there in a day's drive," I told David.

Wayne spoke up. There are a lot of gay friendly places in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The whole town is gay friendly actually, with lots of clubs and bars. You can skip from one to another all night."

"We don't drink," Marco said flatly.

"Oh, right. Well there are a couple of places in Wichita, Kansas. There is the Hotel in Old Town which is in a repurposed warehouse and there are lots of things in the old town area. Besides, Wichita has some nice museums if you are into that sort of thing." Wayne added.

"Or, you could stay at the Stone Lion Inn in Guthrie, Oklahoma. That isn't far from here at all, and they do a lovely mystery theater there. You will even get to be in it if you like."

"So what else is there to do in Guthrie?" I asked. "I know it was briefly the state capital but it's kind of small."

"Well, the short answer is not much. If you are going to be there for more than a few days you might run out of things to do," Wayne admitted.

"Oh come on now. They are on their honeymoon. You know what they'll be doing," David interrupted with a loud laugh.

Marco gave me a look which told me that he wanted to leave.

"Listen, we really need to run on. I have a lot of things to do," I made excuses for us.

"I thought you were staying for dinner," David protested, waving his glass.

"I'm sorry, maybe another time," I looked at Marco as if this were my idea. "Sorry Marco, but I really need to get back."

Marco stood and shook hands with them both. "I will look forward to the next time," he smiled.

When we got out to the car I asked him,"What was the problem?"

"I'm sorry," he said. "I guess David was beginning to bug me. He drinks too much."

"Hey, if you aren't comfortable, I'm not comfortable. No problem. David does seem to be drinking more lately."

Marco looked annoyed. "He reminds me of Carl sometimes."

"Really? Maybe you're right. Your instincts are better than mine with that sort of thing," I admitted.

We went back to the apartment where Marco made us some nice sandwiches and poured a couple of sodas. I got on my cell phone and looked up the hotels that Wayne had mentioned.

"The mystery theater in Guthrie looks like fun but there's not much else there to do for a week. Let me look at what there is to do in Wichita."

I tapped around for awhile and told him. "The Hotel in Old Town looks cool and there are a lot of things to do there. That part of Wichita is kind of like downtown Tulsa. They have turned a lot of old buildings into restaurants and pubs. I know we are not big on bars, but there are several cool looking museums and things."

Marco grinned. "You know I'm a museum freak. That could be fun."

I tapped around a little more. "You know, we might think about Eureka Springs. It sounds a little like San Antonio. A lot of the clubs have live music, and it is close to Branson which has a lot of shows. It's not far from that new museum that Walmart financed near Bentonville – Crystal Springs Museum of American Art. It gets really good reviews."

Marco perked up. "That sounds even better. We could keep busy all week. Let's check that out."

I tapped some more."It looks like it would be hard to find a place to stay that is not gay friendly. This compares it to San Francisco – cool Victorian architecture and even hilly like San Francisco. And it is only 150 miles from here. That's not far at all. What do you think?"

"I think you should find us a place to stay."

"I can do that. Give me a minute. Let me see. No that is booked up, let me try this one. Hmm, How does the Cliff View Bed and Breakfast sound?"

"I don't know. What does it say?"

Hmm, Victorian rooms, private bath with jacuzzi, breakfast served on a silver tray brought to your room, nice restaurant on premises. Sounds pretty cool. We can get a room all week at the winter rate of $169 a night. That's not bad for a nice place."

"That sounds great. Pounce on it," Marco smiled.

"Just a minute. Let me get my credit card out. Hang on. OK, we got it."

"It's a lot closer than South Padre. How about if we take my car?" he asked.

"Sure. If your Honda dies it's not too far to have it towed back to Tulsa," I grinned.

"Hey, I think my car can make it that far."

"I'm just teasing. We need to road test it anyway. I'm sure it will do fine and it'll be good on gas too."

We had a working plan.

It was nearing the end of the semester for Marco and I had a big project due at work. We ordered a lot of pizza. We tried to make time for the important things; we generally managed to shower together but often fell asleep before we did our mambo. We were becoming more like an old married couple all the time.

The week leading up to Christmas was crazy. Marco had final exams and I was trying to crash out my project which meant working very late. We scarcely saw each other and when we were able to sit down for a meal together it was rushed. We agreed that we would try and make up for lost time on our vacation/honeymoon.

We had decided that we would try and give ourselves time to relax and enjoy our time together without being as rushed as on our last trip. Christmas was on a Friday this year and Luigi would be closed for the holiday. Marco knew that the days after Christmas were unusually busy and was reluctant to be off for those days. When he explained to Luigi that we were planning a honeymoon of sorts his old boss insisted that he take off over the New Year's weekend. That would give us plenty of time to enjoy ourselves.

I did an overnighter two days before Christmas and wrapped up my project in time to sleep in and enjoy Christmas Eve. Marco felt confident that he had done well in his classes and we sat down to a very late breakfast.

"It has been a hectic several weeks, but I think we made it," I told him.

"I think I'm good," he said confidently. "One more semester of Junior College and I will be ready for the real thing."

"Are you going to try to work and do 18 hours again this next semester?" I asked.

He smiled and said, "I am, but one of the classes will be just for fun."

"How's that?"

"Well, remember that the ACT test said I had an affinity for the arts? I enrolled in a painting class."

"Oh, really? I think that's a great idea. You said you used to draw, although I don't think I have ever seen anything you've done."

"I was like you I guess, I drew race cars and that sort of thing. But sometimes I would try to draw other things. I like to draw horses too," he admitted.

I smiled at him. "I am curious to see what you will come up with. So what sort of a painting class is this?"

"If I was serious about studying art I should take some introductory courses in composition and stuff like that. But I just want to play really. This is a watercolor class. Watercolor is a quick media and I thought I could do some sketching and then sort of color them in. I'm not sure how that works, but it sounds like fun."

"I bet you come up with something nice," I predicted. "Do a big one and we can put it on our bare wall. We could use some original art by Marco the Magnificent." It may have been the first time I ever saw him blush.

On Christmas Eve we finally had a little time to think about some Christmas shopping and went out early. I suggested that we send my mother a nice big pot of poinsettias by wire since it was too late to mail anything to her. She had been wonderful at our wedding and we wanted to give her something from the both of us. The florist assured us that it would be delivered by the end of the day.

Marco decided that if we gave Mercer's kids something nice that would be the same as a present for Mercer, so we picked out a really cool remote control truck for the boy and a fancy American Girl doll for the little girl. They had to like those. For Luigi we found a really nice book on Provincial Italian cooking, lots of recipes and beautiful illustrations. It was almost one of those coffee table books. He might already know how to cook most of those things, but we thought he would like it.

For David and Wayne we selected a really nice pair of matching silk neckties. It was the classic Christmas gift and we included the receipts in case they would like to exchange them for something else. All these people had been wonderful to us and we wanted to try and thank them somehow.

We really struggled with what to give Father Hoover. We could think of no one for whom we had more gratitude. He had baptized Marco, married us, and brought the whole congregation to support us when we felt frightened and alone. How could we possibly thank him, and what did he need that we could give him?

At Marco's suggestion we rummaged through an antique book store over on Cherry Street. We briefly tried to explain our situation to the old gentleman who was the proprietor and his face broke into a smile.

"I have just the thing!" he said.

He disappeared into the back room and emerged with a small book wrapped up in a white cloth. He laid it down on the counter and carefully unwrapped a tattered leather book, small but very thick, with a long brass clasp holding together two embossed covers.

"This," he said as if about to share a great treasure. "This is an 1840 edition of the Book of Common Prayer with a complete Psalter, used by the Anglican Church in England and Ireland. It is in remarkably good condition and I think is very beautiful, and quite rare."

Marco looked closely. "It's kind of beat up."

The book dealer reacted with surprise. "But you should understand that his book has not sat idly on a shelf. Please look carefully at the inscription on the fly leaf."

He carefully opened the cover and turned a page. There in flowing script was the faded but legible inscription:

To Fr. Silas Crowley

on the occasion of his ordination.

From William Cleland +

Go and Serve the Lord.

September 21, 1843

"You see," he explained. This prayer book was an ordination gift from one priest to another. See the little cross after Cleland's name? And in 1843 this was the very latest edition of the prayer book. With a complete psalter, this would be all the young priest would need to conduct his services. It was small and portable so that he could carry it on his rounds."

"His rounds?" Marco asked.

"Yes, of course. People were spread out in smaller communities in Britain. They worshiped in small local churches and few had the luxury of a resident priest. This young gentleman probably served a number of congregations, not to mention visits to the sick, and for other sorts of pastoral visits. He would have carried this little volume for many miles, and must have been very careful with it for it to have survived in this condition."

"That is certainly an interesting history. How did you come by this book?" I wondered.

The dealer looked almost apologetic. "I wish I knew its more recent history. What little I know I have guessed from the simple inscription. Unfortunately it came to me in a box of old books I bought at an auction some years ago. I did not display it out of concern for its age. Rather I have been waiting for the right person to show it to."

Marco looked pleased. "Are we the right people?"

The dealer smiled. "Oh yes. You see, I know your Father Hoover and am a great admirer of him. I occasionally attend services at St. Jerome's and as a matter of fact, was present at your lovely wedding, although I doubt that you remember me. I must say, I have never seen such a beautiful wedding. Most same sex couples marry at the court house or in a more private setting. You did it properly I must say."

"I'm sorry but I have to admit I don't remember you," I acknowledged." There were a surprising number of people from the church who attended."

"Yes," he smiled. "We were all so proud of you. So you see, you are just the perfect people for this book. I believe that Father Hoover would be delighted to receive it."

Now Marco was beaming, but had a more practical concern. "That's really cool. Can we afford it?"

By now I was convinced this would make a perfect gift for Father Hoover, but like Marco was not sure we could afford such a rare antique. "How much are you asking for it?"

The little book dealer hesitated for a moment. "It is difficult to put a price on something like this. I think it has great value, but not everything can be valued in dollars." He picked up the book and carefully wrapped it back up in the white cloth, then handed it to Marco.

"There is no price for this. Not for you, not for dear Father Hoover. Please accept this as my wedding gift to you."

My eyes shot with tears. "That is too kind of you. Surely we need to compensate you for this lovely book."

He smiled in return. "You already have. Please let me do this. It is perfect. It is absolutely for you."

Marco knew exactly what to do. He stepped forward and wrapped his arms around the old man and hugged him tight. "Thank you very much," he said. "This is the nicest gift of all."

"Please, I don't even know your name," I told him.

"I am Simon Newcastle," he introduced himself, wiping a tear from his eye. "It is such a pleasure to meet you both. I wish you a lifetime of happiness."

We shook his hand and left with our precious book.

Marco cradled the old prayer book in his arms. "I think gay guys are some of the nicest people in the world."

"Well, Mr. Newcastle is certainly one of them," I agreed. "It seemed like we should have paid him something, but how can you refuse an act of generosity like that?"

"You can't," Marco agreed. "It would have been an insult."

Our Christmas shopping was almost complete. We separated for a few hours, both intent on finding the perfect gift for the other. When we returned to the apartment with wrapping paper and a few cards, we spent an hour making things ready then played Santa and delivered the gifts to our friends. We stopped and had a light supper at a small Chinese place then returned home to wait for the Christmas Eve service at St. Jerome's.

We took our usual place and soon found David and Wayne sitting near us. We greeted each other and they thanked us again for our gift. They turned so we could see that they were wearing their new neckties.

The service was beautiful. The children pantomimed the Christmas story from the Gospel of St. Luke as the appropriate readings were given. The organ played, the choir sang, and it was all wonderful. If we did not have the proper Christmas Spirit before, we had it now.

At the reception after the service we approached Father Hoover and waited our turn in the crowd of people who wished to speak with him. When we stood before him, Marco presented him with our gift. I had found a nice box that just contained the old book and we had wrapped it carefully. He took it and looked a little surprised.

"What's this?" he asked.

"Merry Christmas Father," Marco said with a smile. "Thank you for everything."

"Thank you very much," he said. "I will open this later," he almost apologized. "There is no time right now."

"Of course," Marco said, and we both shook his hand.

When we got back to the apartment We had our own little gift exchange. Marco gave me a beautiful turquoise pendant on a heavy silver chain.

"It is kind of a Native American thing," he explained. "It seemed like it was appropriate."

"It's beautiful," I said. "I think I will wear it all the time."

Marco grinned, and pulled out the Celtic cross I had given him the year before from under his sweater and wiggled his wrist with the silver bracelet inscribed with my name. "I have never taken these off," he assured me.

"When he opened the box from me I apologized in advance. "I guess that is really for both of us."

He looked at the new laptop computer. "It is a Lenovo. Is that a good one?"

"It should be," I laughed and rubbed my thumb and forefinger together. "Every budding computer expert needs his own computer."

"We can both use this," he smiled broadly.

We spent Christmas Day writing thank you notes to all those who had blessed us with wedding gifts. We tried to say something nice in each of them. I did about half, Marco the other half. I had never noticed before that his handwriting was very neat and attractive, not the boyish scrawl that I would have suspected. But then, nothing about Marco ever surprised me. When it came time for supper we went back to the Viet Houng, our favorite little Vietnamese restaurant. We liked their soups, and Buddhists seldom closed for Christmas.

When we got home I pulled out the new computer and began to get it set up. "It sprang to life quickly and I began to download browsers and some basic software.

"How can you do that? We don't have the internet here."

"We do now," I grinned. "I had Cox come in and add cable service last week."

"Maybe we should get a TV," he suggested.

"Then we can watch ball games," I said.

"And cooking shows," he added.

At last it was time for bed. We showered together in our usual loving way. We took the time to do it right this time, getting each other ready for a long session of lovemaking. Once in bed together we spent time just cuddling and kissing, Marco playing with the hair on my chest and belly, I ran my hands over his tight smooth body. I thought he was the most beautiful person in the world. He thought the same of me. What a marvelous conceit to share together. I spent a long time sucking him to the point of insanity then pausing to lick his nipples. When he was nicely erect and wet with spittle, I turned and presented my ass to him which he expertly licked and sucked, slobbering me very wet. I just loved this part of our erotic dance.

He stopped for a moment to ask, "Are you sure you want me to go first?"

"Oh yeah, I want you in me."

He went back to work on my ass, and when I was ready to beg for mercy he put me out of my misery and plunged himself deep inside. I did love this so much, and I did love my beautiful Marco. He leaned over me and stoked me on the inside while his hair waved over my back and shoulders. After a few minutes of this I could feel his breathing get shallow and rolled over so I was on my back and pulled my knees up to my chest. I always liked to watch his face while he was fucking me. His eyes were half closed and his face was flushed. He bobbed his head while he serviced my ass and his long black hair waved over my chest. I put my hands on his chest and rubbed across his nipples, feeling his body so tight and firm. How could he ever be more beautiful than at this very moment?

After several more minutes of this play his face began to take on an expression almost of pain as he strained for release. I reached back and took his firm ass cheeks in both hands and pulled him hard into me. This was the signal he was waiting for and he let go, throwing his head back and crying out with that wonderful combination of pain and pleasure that marked his orgasm. I threw my legs down on each side of him and he fell out, then raised up and placed his hard wet cock against mine. I could feel him ooze more semen onto my belly. That felt so good to me, and I moved from side to side to enjoy the feeling of his slender body on top of mine.

We held each other like that for several minutes until Marco had started to breath regularly. He raised up and kissed me very tenderly, waving his head from side to side so I could feel his hair pass over my face and chest. He knew I loved that. Then he stopped, looked at me and giggled. He pulled himself down, using his tongue to stroke my neck, then chest and then my belly as he moved in search of my cock. When he found it he made it disappear down his throat and pushed his nose into my pubic hair.

Marco pulled his knees up under his chest and supported himself by leaning on my thighs with his elbows. This left his hands free to encircle my dick and play with my balls in rhythm to his sucking mouth. He took me deep in his throat until it made him cough, then pulled off so that just the head was in his mouth and his tongue was lapping around the shaft. Then he placed his lips against the underside of my cock and moved rapidly up and down, essentially masturbating me with his lips while his thumbs were rubbing against the side of my scrotum. It was terribly erotic and I could feel myself start to cum.

"Hang on, I am about to go," I warned him.

"I want it Marty. I want you in my mouth," he pleaded, then took me in his throat and swallowed me whole.

There was no discussion at this point and I began to spurt into his mouth. He pulled back a little so I would cum in his mouth rather than down his gullet. He started to swallow while he moved up and down sending me into spasms, jerking my legs and holding him tight by the shoulders. Some of my sperm oozed down the sides of my cock onto my balls and he slurped that up when he moved down and lapped at my nuts. He was hungry for me and I was in ecstasy.

I looked down at him while he was cleaning me with his tongue. "Holy shit. That's kind of the first time we did that."

"Did you like it?" he looked up at me with a smile.

"Oh hell yes. That has to be the best blowjob I ever had," I gasped. "Sorry for the mess."

He sat up and grinned. "I think you taste good."

"Oh Marco. I think you are the sexiest human being on the planet."

He threw back his head and laughed. "That's good, because you're stuck with me now."

Suddenly he jumped off the bed. "Sorry, but I have to pee. I'll be right back."

I heard him empty himself into the toilet then he was back with a damp hand towel and began to wipe me off, gently cleaning my crotch and wiping up the cum stuck to the hair on my chest and stomach. Then he turned the towel over and motioned for me to raise my legs and wiped up his cum that was slowly dripping from my ass.

"I'm a full-service provider," he giggled.

I was exhausted and just lay there looking up at him. He smiled and told me. "I love doing sex with you. We are getting good at this."

I closed my eyes and sighed. "Practice makes perfect."

Then he lay down beside me and took me in his strong young arms. I ran my hands over his shoulders, marveling at his strength and youth. It was not clear to me just who was the alpha male in this arrangement. I thought maybe it was good to take turns. We fell asleep like that, both very happy and very much in love.

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