The Rest of the Story
by Nick Brady
With Marco back home, life for the family fell back into place. Perhaps it took his absence to reveal just how much he was the glue that held the family together. He profited greatly from the sale of his paintings, but the recognition was worth more to him than the money.
It has become clear to me that there is no end to this story. The length has grown to 573,942 words. The average novel runs between 80,000 and 100,000 words. Looking at my previous long series, the Nick/Tony/Joseph story, I see it was 243,938 words. It seems that I am given to telling long tales. By comparison, Tolstoy's War and Peace is 587,287 words. Even Tolstoy had to stop somewhere. My problem is that I keep looking for a good stopping place, but there is always the question of what happens next. With Nick's Story, I concluded with an Epilogue and I will end this tale with the same. Thanks for staying with me.
Jump forward in time. Brian and Lanny will both graduate from OU - Tulsa. Brian will go on to Medical school while Lanny works on a Master's in Art Education after a BA in Art History. They struggle to find time for each other.
With some help from already busy Brian, both Samuel and Benjamin complete their Eagle Scout and the Eagle Court of Honor is a joyous family affair with a new photograph for the family wall. The Court of Honor is held in the sanctuary of St. Jerome's where the troop is now sponsored. An assortment of parents, grandparents and other Scouting family members make for a good crowd. Father Hoover is there looking proud of 'his' Scout Troop.
When Brian and Lanny are 23, the twins are 18 and graduate from high school. Sam is definitely into girls while Ben is accepting that he is gay. They are still occasionally affectionate with each other, but the time of innocent play has passed. Sam has an on-and-off girlfriend, but nothing serious. Ben has found several boys with whom he is sexual, but likewise, no real love. Ben prefers to keep his situation private and tries to be discreet.
Sam and Ben finalize their college plans and Ben insists on going away to school. This prompts Marco and Marty to discuss their concerns with Ben, and he is cautioned about the potential dangers of his decision. Marty counsels him on being an honorable person. Ben is a good kid and accepts the advice thoughtfully, easing the concerns of his parents somewhat. Both boys are aware that this will be the first time in their lives that they will be apart, and feel some regret and anxiety about that. Sam goes to school at TU and life remains much the same for him. He is still living at home and close to the family. Brian stays in touch with the family and shares their concern for Ben.
Ben is at college out of state. Freshmen are required to stay in a Dorm which will allow him to meet others. He is initially taken aback by the size of the campus and number of students. This is a big change for him. He also misses his brother more than he expected and frequently calls home to talk to the family. Sam admits that he misses Ben too, but tells him to make the best of his opportunity both for his education, and to figure out who he is and what he wants to do with his life. Ben also talks to Marty with whom he has felt comfortable confiding. Ben admits that he misses the family terribly, and is very lonely where there are thousands of students and no one he knows.
Marty tells him from his own experience that he should find the local Episcopal church, attend the services and find out what youth groups they have for his age. Surely in a college town, there will be activities that will allow him to make a few friends. Those friends will introduce him to others, and his circle of friends will expand. He will also meet people in his classes. Offers to study together will often result in friendships. Ben is reassured and resolves to stick it out. He does find the church and gives that a try. Classes begin and he meets some classmates. Things are looking up although he still misses the family and intimacy with his brother Sam.
Sam has dated intermittently in high school and while in college. Staying in Tulsa has let him keep some old friends, and college has allowed him to make new ones. He feels comfortable with his situation, although he does miss Ben more than he thought he would. Now, he has settled on a steady girlfriend and wants to move into her apartment. Marco and Marty help him move, then come home to an empty house for the first time in fourteen years when Sam and Ben came into their lives. They wonder how they will deal with an empty nest and decide to celebrate with a month in Europe.
Ben has begun to make some friends in church, in class, and in his dorm. There are two sorts of friends: those both male and female who are interesting and compatible, and males whom he finds sexually attractive and share his interests. The dorm showers are an interesting feature. He tries to juggle these friendships and decide what is right for him. He recalls Marty's advice about being an honorable person. There are several with whom he is casually sexual, but he has not found anyone special yet. He considers that not having a committed partner isn't all bad, but he is a bit conflicted about being flagrantly gay.
We jump forward to the time when Brian and Lanny are both ready to practice their chosen professions. Brian has completed Med school, and Lanny has his MA. Brian is doing his internship with Louisa's father, Dr. Carpenter, and Lanny begins teaching art at McLain High School while trying (unsuccessfully) to establish himself as an artist.
Brian discovers that he has a love for Pediatrics and has some rewarding experiences during his internship. Lanny finds teaching at McLain a challenge. The students are predominately black and not accepting of a young white art teacher. Lanny perseveres and connects with a few students, earning some respect with others. He reconsiders his decision to teach in public high school. They (primarily Lanny), are concerned about the future earning potential of their respective careers. Brian recalls for him of the initial disparity in the incomes of Marco and Marty, and reminds him that there is much more in a long term relationship than incomes. They persevere.
Brian completes his first year of internship and is pleased to confirm that Pediatrics is a good fit for him. Lanny is not excited about teaching high school, although his situation has improved at McLain. Brian is to complete his second year of internship and convinces Lanny to stick with his current position for one more year. Lanny agrees, although with some misgivings. It galls him somewhat to realize that Brian's plans outweigh his own, but he tries to accept the reality of their situation.
Halfway through the year, Brian and Lanny have a heart to heart talk about where they will go from here. Brian will be ready to start private practice, and Lanny knows he doesn't want to teach high school again. Brian encourages him to consider a private school or college. They agree that when Brian finds a practice, Lanny will search for something in that area.
Brian searches for a pediatrics practice which will accept a brand new doctor. Dr. Carpenter has contacts and sends him to a clinic in Boston for an interview. Dr. Carpenter also calls his contact there and recommends Brian to them. The interview goes well, his transcript is excellent and he is made an offer that he accepts. The salary is higher than he expected but is advised that living costs are high in the Boston area.
Brian calls Lanny with the news of his offer and Lanny is both excited for Brian and dismayed that he will be the one who follows. Both of them independently scan for schools in the area where Lanny might teach, and find there are very many. When Brian gets back they both tell each other what they found, and Lanny is reassured that they will be OK. Lanny asks for and receives recommendations from faculty at McLain. His transcript is excellent, and the degree in Art History is desirable for a teaching position. He applies to both private schools and some colleges, is invited for interviews and settles on a private Episcopal Boy's School. He feels it will be a good fit. They are optimistic about the move and feel it will be satisfying for both.
Sam adjusts to living with his girlfriend. He soon realizes that she is more interested in a permanent arrangement than he is, and assumes control of too much. He is a little uncomfortable about this but sees no delicate way to withdraw as she professes to love him passionately. When he tells her he isn't ready to marry, she pouts, then becomes very sweet. In a short time she tearfully tells Sam she is pregnant, sending him into a panic. She wants them to be married immediately.
Sam goes home to confer with Marco and Marty. Marty takes the position that if he got the girl pregnant then he is obligated to marry her. Marco listens quietly, then asks if Sam is really sure she is pregnant. They devise a plan whereby Sam will insist on accompanying her to the clinic to check on the pregnancy. She resists, Sam insists, and a week later she coyly tells him she started her period and is not pregnant. Sam confronts her duplicity and she confesses she faked being pregnant so he would marry her. Sam needs no more justification for terminating their arrangement and bails out.
Ben is making friends, both at church, in class and in his residence hall. Several of the guys he meets in the shower turn out to be interesting sexually. None are really personally compatible. He meets a guy in his class who is very bright, Asian, and not obviously gay. He has a modest demeanor and quick mind that almost reminds him of Sam. They conspire on some coursework and become casual friends. Ben likes him as a friend as they become better acquainted. As they enjoy each other's company they mutually discover that the other is gay, opening additional possibilities for their relationship. Having each assumed that the other is straight, they will need to do a reset on the terms of their friendship. They talk about this and decide to see what the future will bring. The future looks more interesting now.
Brian and Lanny are doing well. The senior physicians at Brian's clinic are pleased with him and give him a challenging case. Aware that he is gay, they assign him to a 14 year old boy who has Type 1 diabetes but is resisting the diet and medication regimen that will prevent major complications. His family is in conflict with him over his confessed sexuality, and he is rebellious about everything. They hope that he will be better able to relate to Brian as a gay physician. The boy is initially belligerent but over time, Brian wins his confidence and his medical condition improves.
Lanny is delighted to find that he fits in well with his new school. It is an all male boarding school for some, with others as day students. Some of the boarders are discipline cases sent away by parents who could not control them. Some are relieved to be out of a bad situation and try to make the best of it. Others (one in particular) are genuine problems and are rude to Lanny. He wins the confidence of the majority of the students who shout down the rude boy and he begins to respond to positive peer pressure and relents. Lanny takes him under his wing and he makes significant improvement. Lanny feels fulfilled for the first time.
Brian and Lanny are getting along fine, and consider that they might be ready to marry legally. The time finally seems right. They return home to discuss this with Marco and Marty. As before, it seems right to bring both families together to bless the new arrangement. Brian's parents are fine with it. Lanny's parents hesitate. Nancy is happy that Lanny is happy, and likes Brian. Frank is resigned if not totally thrilled, but both set of parents give their blessings.
They want to be married back in Tulsa with family and friends. The next step is to talk to Father Hoover. His counsel is much the same as when he counseled Marco and Marty. A date is set for the end of Lanny's school term. Brian will take a week off and they will return for a wedding. Nancy steps up to assist with the wedding planning in much the same way as Marty's mother Irene did for Marco and Marty. As the only female parent, she accepts the responsibility with good humor.
The story concludes with the wedding. Both families are there with Louisa, Melissa, and the staff of both Dr. Carpenter's clinic and a few of the McLain faculty. A few close friends from the Boston clinic and Lanny's school come to support them. Sam and Ben are delighted and happy for both Brian and Lanny. A pleasant surprise is that most of the congregation also attend.
It is a nice wedding and Brian and Lanny need to leave quickly for a brief honeymoon before Brian has to be back at his practice. They stay long enough for some wedding pictures: both families as a group with Father Hoover, and each family separately, the usual cake cutting etc. A last photo of Marco, Marty, Ben, Sam, Brian and Lanny is particularly fun. Sam and Ben are clowning and all are laughing and very happy. It is a sort of closing of the circle that began when Marco and Marty started their journey
Marco and Marty talk with Father Hoover after the rest leave. They have been privately struck by how much older he appears compared to when he married them twenty years ago. He confides to them that he will be retiring very soon at age 80. He admits that he should have retired long ago, but loved the church and resisted leaving. He tells them that now that he has been able to marry another generation of their family, he feels his work is complete.
And they all lived happily ever after.
THE END (for Pete's sake.)
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