by Nick Brady
"Here are the party boys," Alice greeted us. "Are you hungry for breakfast?"
"Yes!" we replied in unison.
"What would you like?" she asked.
"If it's not too much trouble, could you make some more of those wavy rancheros?" I wondered.
Alice laughed. "For you Mr. Nicky, anything."
She fed us her specialty, then followed it with some blueberry muffins still warm from the oven. She was rewarded with sighs and belches of appreciation.
By now it was almost noon. I excused myself and said. "I should be going home. I want to know how Kevin's evening went," I winked at Joseph.
I refused the offer of a ride home and took my bike from the garage. Joseph and I both noticed that his father's car was still missing, but made no comment. It was cool and crisp but not unpleasantly so, and I was back at my apartment in a few minutes, warmed by the exercise of riding hard.
After locking my bike in the shed, I let myself into the apartment. "Hello house!" I called.
Mom was in the kitchen doing whatever it was she always did there. Dad was on the sofa watching the Rose Bowl. Kevin was not to be seen.
"How was the party?" Dad asked as I walked in.
"It was good," I replied. "I expected a church party to be boring, but it was fun. They had a band and everything."
Dad chuckled. "Those whiskey-palians know how to party I understand."
"Oh, it wasn't that kind of a party, but it was fun. The band was great and Joseph knew some of the players. They got him to play some stuff with them, and you wouldn't believe how good he was."
"Knowing Joseph, I can easily believe it," Dad replied. "He is an excellent musician."
"Yeah, but this was rock and roll. They were playing Leon Russell stuff and Joseph rocked!" Dad just laughed.
"Where is Kevin?" I asked.
"Still in bed," Mom said from the kitchen. "Why don't you wake him up before it's time for supper."
I went into the bedroom to find Kevin wrapped up in a wad of blankets. "Hey! Are you alive in there?"
There was a slight stirring then a muffled voice said. "Go away."
"What time did you get home?" I asked.
There was more movement, then my brother's face poked out. "What time is it?"
I looked at my spiffy new watch. "12:30."
"Really?" The face took on a surprised look. "I don't think I have ever slept this late. I got in at 1:00, just barely."
"It must have been a hell of a night," I guessed.
The face smiled. "It was OK."
"Well?" I asked.
"Well did you, you know, get laid?"
"You don't beat around the bush, do you?" Kevin frowned a little.
"Hey, you were bragging about it being the big night. How did it go?"
Kevin leaned back and stretched. "It was OK. A little different than I expected, but OK."
"So what happened? Inquiring minds want to know. Did you or not?"
"Yep," he smiled but not exactly in triumph.
"I'm waiting," I said impatiently.
"Just a minute," he got up wearing only his pajama bottoms and trotted to the bathroom. The toilet flushed and he walked back in and sat down on his bed.
Kevin laughed. "You might say that she had a lot more experience than I did. I think I got raped."
"Wow. So how was it?"
He pulled his legs up to sit cross-legged. "We went to this club, which was kind of fun. It was mostly Hispanic kids but they were OK. I mean nobody pulled a knife on me or anything. We danced and messed around there for awhile. Then Juan wanted to leave with the girls."
"Wasn't he having fun?"
"I think he wanted to get on to the main event," Kevin grinned.
"So where did you go?" I asked impatiently.
"Beats me. Somewhere out in the country I guess. I couldn't see much."
"What do you mean you couldn't see?"
"Juan and Juanita were in the front seat and me and Angie were in the back. The back seat of that DeSoto is huge. As soon as we left the club we started to make out and I never sat up again until we started home."
"Sounds hot!" I was impressed.
"I guess. She kisses like a vacuum machine. I thought she was going to pull my tongue out."
"I think you did more than kiss," I suggested.
"Oh yeah. She pulled my pants down and started sucking my dick before we even got out of town. That part was pretty cool."
"She sounds like a wild woman."
"She was pretty worked up," Kevin shook his head. "I don't know what I expected, but it was maybe a little more than I was ready for. She obviously had a lot more experience than I did."
"What makes you think so?"
"Well for one thing, when she saw that I am uncut she seemed surprised. She said she thought all us white boys had been circumcised," Kevin scowled. "I don't believe I was her first."
"So you didn't like it?" I was surprised.
"Well, I did at the time. I mean it was hot and all, but...."
"Go on, what happened next?" I was getting really interested. We both had to adjust our boners.
Kevin shook his head. "I can't believe I am telling you this."
"Hey, you got to tell somebody. You know I won't repeat anything."
"You better not. If Mom and Dad knew about this I would never get out of the apartment again."
"You know I won't, not even to Joseph," I promised. "You know all my secrets."
He nodded. "True, or maybe some of them."
He started to grin. "Anyway, when we got to wherever it was, she started taking off her clothes, and I, uh, I took mine off too. We were naked as jaybirds in the back of that DeSoto."
"It was kind of a blur. She was sucking on me like a starving calf, and I was, like feeling her pussy," he hesitated. "She wanted me to eat her but to tell you the truth, I just didn't want to. She like, she didn't smell very good. You know how they say that pussy smells like tuna fish?"
"I have heard that, but don't have any first hand experience."
"Well it does, like rotten tuna fish."
I had to laugh. "Maybe she has a hygiene problem."
He frowned. "Yeah, I think so. To tell you the truth it kind of turned me off."
"So was that it?" I wanted to know.
"No..., She kept messing with me and then sort of sat on me."
"Sat on you?"
"Yeah, she sat on my dick and stuck it in her twat."
"So you really did it?" I was kind of proud of my little brother.
"Oh yeah. Juan had a box of rubbers and I got one on before she got going."
"What about Juan and Juanita? Did they see what you guys were doing? I mean, what were they doing?"
"They were in the front seat fucking like bunnies. From what I could tell, Juan has a taste for tuna. All I could see was the occasional bare foot sticking up."
"So how was it?" I asked.
Kevin grinned. "Not bad really. Not exactly what I expected I guess, but pretty damn good."
Now we were both laughing.
"That was the first time," Kevin gave me a sly grin.
"Really? How many times did you fuck her?" I asked with surprise.
"Three times, I think. I couldn't shoot the last time though."
"My God Kevin, that's amazing. You are quite the stud. Would you do it again?"
He shook his head. "I don't know, maybe. I mean it was way better than jerking off, but not very, you know, romantic."
"Yeah, it does sound kind of raw," I agreed. "Well did she like it? I mean do you think you satisfied her?"
"I guess so. I mean she seemed disappointed when I couldn't go again, but I guess she liked it," he shook his head. "I can't say she made me feel special. She just wanted somebody to fuck, and I was there."
I nodded. "Yeah, I can see that. No fairy tale love affair, was it?"
Kevin gave me a straight look. "I know you and Joseph do stuff together. Is it like that with you guys?"
I thought of all the times Joseph and I had made love to each other. "No, not at all. I think we are as concerned about each other as for ourselves. There is never anything rough about it," I felt myself blush. "I guess it's because we love each other."
Kevin's look told me that he was touched by that. "That makes you very lucky I think. You know, I am really OK that you are gay. I'm just glad that you have someone to love you, and that you are happy."
"Thank you. That means a lot. I want the same for you Kevin," I smiled. "I don't think that Angie is the one."
Kevin snorted. "No, I don't think so. I would rather have lost my virginity to someone who smelled better," he stretched again. "Some guys say that pussy is pussy and it's all good. I don't know if I would agree with that."
"Some guys will say anything to appear macho," I reminded him. "For Pete's sake, Kevin. You are twelve years old. A very mature twelve years old for sure, but still. Angie may have been your first, but she will certainly not be your last. Next time try and pick someone who actually means something to you. Otherwise you are really just using someone's body to masturbate with."
I hesitated. "Maybe I shouldn't say this to you, but I have done some things with a couple of other guys before I met Joseph, and that's all it was, we were just getting off with each other. Maybe that's not so bad, but with Joseph it is something completely different. And you're right, we are very lucky. I can't imagine being with anyone else but Joseph. I wouldn't want to be with anybody else. I would rather just go back to jerking off into a dirty sock," I chuckled. "Advice on sex from your queer brother."
Kevin didn't laugh. "It's good advice Nick. I respect you and I think you know what you are talking about. Sex is great if it's with the right person. And I'm not simple enough to think that it has to be with your one and only for it to be good sex. But it has to mean something or we are just back to the dirty sock."
"Yeah, God knows we have gone through enough dirty socks," I laughed. "Sometimes I wonder if Mom ever notices how stiff some of our socks are when she throws them in the laundry."
Kevin rolled his eyes. "I don't like to think about that."
"Don't you think they know Joseph and I are more than just friends?" I asked.
"I would think so. They're not blind. But I think if you guys are discreet and don't rub their noses in it, they are going to let you do what you feel is right for you," he smiled. "They love us. I get aggravated with Mom and Dad sometimes, but it has never occurred to me that they don't love us."
"That's true," I agreed. "That's what Joseph sees when he comes over here. That is why he likes to visit. Joseph has lots of things, but he doesn't have parents like ours."
I leaned over towards him and said. "Truth be told, I have to admit that I'm pretty lucky to have a brother I can tell anything and still be accepted. That goes both ways you know."
"Now for a very important question," Kevin said and stood up. "Is there anything to eat in the kitchen? I am absolutely famished. What about you?"
"I'm OK. Alice fixed us some wavy rancheros before I came home."
"Some what?" Kevin looked confused.
"It's an old family recipe. I will tell you sometime," I smiled. "Let's go see about your breakfast."
It was January second and life was returning to normal. The long eventful holiday vacation had passed and the routine of school had resumed. Alice drove Joseph to school, I rode my bike, we met briefly, first at the flagpole and later at his house. The time for being constantly together had passed and we would see each other less often now.
We did not meet on Friday because Joseph had an appointment with his family attorney. He and Jack wanted to talk about Pablo and his divided brothers. On Saturday morning I rode over to Joseph's on my bike and we made ourselves comfortable on the sofa in his bedroom.
"How did it go with the attorney?" I asked.
"It went well, I think. We outlined the situation and he seemed to think he could be helpful."
"So what is going to happen?"
Joseph summarized. "Locating Carlos will be the easy part. While the location of a foster child is not public information it should be rather simple to obtain on behalf of his older brother."
"What about Tony?"
"The attorney will have to look into the circumstances of his arrest. It might be that he could be transferred to a foster home, but it is probably in his best interests to stay put. The Tulsa Boys Home has a number of resources that he would not have in a foster home."
"I really feel bad for Tony," I admitted. "I think he is a pretty good guy. I didn't realize it at the time I knew him, but he has had a really shitty deal. I never really told you about that."
"And I told you I didn't need to know," Joseph smiled.
"And what about their immigration status?" I wondered.
Joseph smiled. "I had assumed that would be the thorniest problem, but perhaps not. Since they were brought here unwillingly by their father and have no recourse to parents or known relatives, they might qualify as what he called a hardship case. Again, he will have to do some legal work and get back to us, but it might not be as hopeless as we first thought. It helps that Pablo has shown himself to be a good student and a responsible person. There are things that can be worked out."
I was rather amazed. "Sounds like he is a good lawyer. Was Jack there?"
"Oh yes, Jack will be an important part of this process. He will be rather like the anchor," Joseph explained.
"How is that?" I asked
"Jack is a natural born American citizen, and of majority age, that is, an adult. He also has a clean record, no arrests, no incarcerations, a model citizen as it were," Joseph elaborated. "It might be that Jack can sponsor Pablo and his brothers while they work through the immigration process."
"Wow, that would be cool. Is Jack willing to to that?" I asked.
"Jack was emphatic in saying that he would do whatever was necessary," Joseph nodded. "He is a generous person, and of course we know that he and Pablo have a special relationship."
Joseph continued. "It seems that the only real problem with their immigration status is Tony's involvement with the law. He was arrested for prostitution as you know. But he was very young, and a victim of his father whose illegal activities are a matter of record. It might depend on how he has conducted himself while at the boys home."
I was overfilled with information. "You and the attorney had quite a session, but it sounds like you speak his language. Do you understand everything you have just told me?"
Joseph smiled modestly. "Yes, I do."
"Then if everything turns out like you think, this is all good news, right?"
"Well I hope so. He is an excellent attorney," Joseph agreed.
I was puzzled about one thing. "I don't know much about legal stuff, but don't lawyers charge a lot of money? I mean, who is going to pay for this?"
Another smile from Joseph. "He is on retainer by my father. That means he is paid a set fee to be on call and provide advice. This was an information and advice session. Legal work to follow up will be billed to my father, who might complain, but will pay for it."
I had to smile and shake my head. "You have this all worked out, don't you?"
Joseph shrugged. "If my career in music doesn't develop as expected, I imagine I will go into law."
I was fully convinced that Joseph was capable of doing anything. "So what happens next?"
"With the brothers? I suppose now it is wait and see. But I think that once the legal wheels begin to roll, our attorney will push things along rather quickly. Of course you know that Father is a surgeon. Surgery is a profession prone to litigation and he has an excellent attorney," Joseph had a confident smile.
"So how is your mother? Anything new with that?" I asked with concern.
The smile faded. "I don't think that is going as well as we might have hoped. The last time my father talked with me it seems that she was rather resentful of being in a rehabilitation facility. She will be at her halfway point this weekend and I am to accompany Father for a visit. I may know more after Sunday."
"Good luck with that. But isn't her alternative to rehab a trip to prison?" I hated to say that out loud.
Joseph looked down and nodded. "Yes, that's true. I think she knows that but has difficulty accepting it. Perhaps her mind is not working clearly."
My next question was harder. "So how is your dad? What's going on with him?"
Now Joseph's face clouded over. "It is difficult to say, Nicky."
"Hard to say, or hard to talk about?" I interpreted.
Joseph closed his eyes and tried to keep his face impassive, then replied carefully. "You know me too well, Nicky. I can't keep anything from you, can I?"
I hesitated then said. "Well, we both noticed that his car hasn't been here over the holidays."
Joseph sighed. "I wanted to think that he was at his office, or the hospital, but when that is the case he notifies Alice. I asked her about him and she gave me a non-answer."
"What's a non-answer?"
"It means if she knows something she doesn't want to tell, she becomes evasive," he explained.
I was confused by this. "What's the deal then?"
Joseph gave me a wistful smile. "Your parents are such nice people that you might find it hard to understand, but not all parents are faithful to each other."
"Do you mean they are screwing around on each other?" he was right, I didn't quite understand.
Joseph leaned back on the sofa and tried to explain. "Mother drank for a long time. I wasn't suppose to be aware when I was younger, but of course I did notice, I just didn't say anything."
"At that time my parents socialized a lot. Apparently, part of building a medical practice is entertaining certain important people. They served drinks, although not many drank heavily. It seems that mother often drank more than her share, and became rather affectionate towards certain men. And it seems that several of them returned her affection at one time or another."
"Did your father know?" I asked.
Joseph shrugged. "How could he not? I'm not sure what he knew or when he knew it. I only figured this out over a period of time. No one has told me the story. You are the first person I have ever discussed this with, Nicky," I took his hand and encouraged him to continue.
"I suppose I first took note of this when I was about eight. I could hear them quarreling at night, and Mother appeared to drink more often. It was not uncommon for Father to be away from the house because of his practice. I was very young, I didn't know what either of them did."
"So this has been going on a long time?" I guessed.
"I would assume so," Joseph shrugged. "Mother drank, Father was away, I kept my mouth shut, stayed out of the way and practiced my music. As time went by, either because Father's practice became established or because of Mother's infidelity, the socializing became minimal. Then Mother started to drink alone. She almost always had a glass of wine in her hand. Father was home less often. He said he was very busy and I believed him. I suppose he was, he is an excellent doctor," he shrugged again.
"Go on," I encouraged him.
"I suppose you know the rest. Life went on like a glass with little cracks running through it. We try not to notice until one day it shatters. Mother was arrested and sentenced to the rehab facility. I think Father saw that as justification, and I believe it has all come apart," he was struggling with tears.
I leaned against his shoulder and held his hand. "I'm sorry Joseph."
Joseph spoke with a choking voice. "It is like watching someone who has been ill for a long time finally die. You know it is going to happen but you keep hoping things will get better."
I turned and put my arms around Joseph and tried to comfort him. He was trying not to sob. "I knew this would happen eventually, but it's hard Nicky. Now that it has come, it is really hard."
"Maybe when your mom gets home things will be better. I mean, if she quits drinking things might be OK," I suggested.
I sat there with my head on his chest for several minutes. "I don't know what to say. This is sort of off the scale for me but I feel really bad for you. I don't know, maybe I should feel bad for your mom too, but I just care about you."
Joseph didn't speak, but after a moment I felt water dripping on my face. I looked up to see his tears falling down. We simply held each other until his crying stopped. Nothing was said. It seemed there was nothing to say.
Finally Joseph stood up and pushed me away. "I'm sorry Nicky. Eventually our bladders call the shots," he walked into the bathroom and I heard him empty himself into the toilet, then flush. He sat back down and I tried to hold him again, putting the palm of my hand on his fly. "Can I do anything to make you feel better?" I asked.
He kissed the top of my head and patted my shoulders. "I never thought I would refuse you Nicky, but this just doesn't seem like the right time for anything joyful."
"That's OK. I just want to be here for you," I told him.
Joseph sighed. "Poor Nicky. You must get tired of consoling me for one thing or another. When do I get to be there for you?"
"All the time, you are here for me whenever we are together," I insisted, and meant it sincerely. "I just want you to be happy. You deserve to be happy, Joseph. You are a wonderful person and I love you."
Joseph thought for a moment. "You know, Nicky. I think the happiest I have ever been was the week I stayed with your family over Christmas. I was with the dearest person I have ever known, surrounded by a loving family almost my own, and at peace with myself. How do you endure such happiness?"
"I don't know. I sort of take it for granted I guess."
"You shouldn't take it for granted Nicky. It is not a common thing. I think it is very rare indeed."
We sat there for a time, then went downstairs to be greeted and fed by Alice. This was what had become normal for us. We ate, talked for awhile, then Joseph worked on his music while I listened and napped in the wing back chair. After several hours of work he was finished and we went up to his bedroom and we made love to each other on his wide bed, the curtains pulled back from the long windows that looked over his balcony into the big trees that now stood bare.
I knew not to ask to stay over as Dad had already told me he wanted me home this weekend. We said our goodbyes before I walked down the stairs to retrieve my bicycle and ride home. "I'm sorry, Joseph. I just know all this will all work out for you." "Yes, of course. Things always work out," he assured me. Then we hugged each other tightly.
"Will I see you at church tomorrow?" I asked.
"I think not. We will be leaving for Valley of Hope before church is over. Father doesn't usually attend, as you know."
"Will I talk to you after you get back?"
"I really don't know," he admitted. "It depends on what time we get back, and what Father wants to do. I am hoping he will talk to me. I desperately want him to talk to me."
I nodded my understanding and went out to ride home. It was dusk now and the air was cold. I put my bike in the shed and walked into my apartment to be with my family – my mother, father and brother. Joseph was right. I must never take this family for granted.
I skipped church the next morning for the first time in many weeks. I knew Joseph would not be there and for some reason I just wanted to be quiet. Kevin trudged over to First Methodist for his usual Sunday School class and Dad read the paper while mother read a magazine. I figured this was what happened every Sunday after I had gone to Trinity to sing in the choir with Joseph. It was a nice routine.
I wondered sometimes why Mom and Dad didn't go to church somewhere. They would show up if Kevin or I were involved in something, but were not regular attenders themselves. Certainly they had no negative feelings about church or religion in general, it was just their day of rest, I supposed.
During the afternoon when I knew Joseph would be visiting his mother, I laid in my bed and thought about him, about his mother and father. I thought hard about how things might work out for them, how they could reconcile and become a family again. Surely there had been times when they were close and loved each other. I wondered if this were praying. When you think about something and hope really hard for it to turn out right, is this praying? After awhile I fell asleep until Mom called me for dinner.
The next day at school I hurried to the flagpole to wait for Joseph. He walked out a few minutes later and appeared pleased to see me.
"Hey Nick," we exchanged our usual greeting.
"Can I come by your house today?" I asked.
"Oh please do," he looked at the curb where Alice was waiting. "I will see you there."
Upstairs in his room I waited to hear about the visit with his mother. "How did it go?"
"Rather anticlimactic actually. We were all very polite."
"Was she glad to see you?" I asked, wondering if this was an appropriate question.
"Yes, I think so. She was quite subdued. I wondered if they might have her on a sedative," he admitted.
"Well, did she say anything? Was she still resentful, or what?"
"To be honest, she really didn't say much of anything. Just a few platitudes. We were only there about fifteen minutes," Joseph told me.
"Did you get a feel for what she was thinking? I mean does she want to change, to stop drinking?"
"I thought she was numb," he said. "I didn't get a sense that she was thinking at all. I admit I didn't expect that."
It was hard to know how to react to that. "Did you talk to your father?"
Joseph nodded rather solemnly. "Yes, I did that."
"So...." I pulled on him a little.
"He said almost nothing on the way over to Cushing, and he had very little to say to Mother, although granted she was not very responsive. We started back in silence but I wanted him to talk to me. I asked him what was going to happen when Mother came home."
"What did he say?"
"At first he brushed me off. Then I asked him if they were going to stay together. He pretended not to understand so I asked him outright if he planned to divorce Mother, and stared at him until he answered."
Joseph paused. "He sat there as if he had not heard me then finally said, 'Yes, I suppose so'. Nicky, he showed no emotion at all, no anger, no remorse, just almost a shrug. They have been married 35 years, how can he shrug that off?"
I wondered what to say. How could I help Joseph understand something that was so bewildering to me? "Maybe it has been dead to him for a long time."
Joseph turned away and looked out the windows. "Yes, I suppose that is true. I only just recognized that their marriage has died. I suppose they have known that for some time," after a minute he said, "Her drinking, the infidelity, perhaps these were only symptoms of how unhappy they have been for a long time. I was just blind to it."
"They must have been happy at one time, when they were first married," I suggested.
"Yes, surely they were. I have two older sisters you have never met. There are ten years between myself and the younger sister. I think my parents had planned to travel and enjoy themselves and were not expecting to have to raise another child. They would certainly have had a different life if I had not been born."
"Don't say that. You aren't to blame for your parent's problems."
"Well, I don't suppose I am personally at fault, but it is true. They might have had a better life without me," he looked very dejected.
"I know my life is better because of you," I told him. "I wish I could do something."
"I'm sorry. I am just depressed. It is childish to think that way," he said. "I have a good life and you make it better."
Joseph leaned his head back and appeared to have gained some control over his emotions. "I should tell you what I know. I had a long talk with Alice last night. I think she is the only sane person in the house."
He paused. "Alice is not one to tell tales. I had to press her very hard to get her to tell me what she knows," he chuckled sadly. "It seems Alice knows everything, at least in this house."
"What did she tell you?" I asked.
He took a deep breath then began. "My father has had a lover for a long time, a nurse in his office. Perhaps he took a lover because my mother drank, or she drank because he had a lover, I don't know. Perhaps the two things are independent of each other, sometimes these things happen. In any case, Mother's being sent to the rehab facility was the catalyst he needed to make his decision. Once she is home he will offer her a divorce with a generous settlement."
"How will that work out?"
"According to Alice, and she probably has this correct, Mother will get the house and furniture and Father will get his freedom. He has plenty of money – investments, some property from his family, he is very secure. I suppose there is enough to go around."
"So you will stay here with your mom?" I asked.
"Yes, I suppose so. My father has had a little apartment near the hospital for a long time but I have only seen it a few times. I will stay here," he gave a grim chuckle. "I will stay with my piano."
I sat and held his hand until it began to grow dark outside. "I have to go Joseph. Please don't be so sad."
He opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out, then he waved his hands in resignation.
I wanted to say something but wasn't sure what to say. "Yesterday afternoon while you were visiting your mom, I was thinking about you," I told him. "I was wishing really hard that things would turn out good for you. I'm not sure how it works, but do you think that qualifies as praying?"
Joseph gave me a teary smile. "I am no expert on prayer," he said. "But I think that would qualify. Thank you Nicky."
He walked me down to where I had parked my bike and kissed me goodbye. I wished good things for him all the way home.
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. If the email address pastes with %40 in the middle, replace that with an @ sign.]