We Could Be Heroes

by Bensiamin

Chapter 4

After we dried each other off, we slipped into bed, cuddling and kissing and stroking each other. "How do you feel, Lover Boy? This was a milestone for both of us, but it was an even bigger deal for you because it's your birthday, and you've put up with me and my hang-ups and patiently waited for this. Was getting it on everything you thought it would be? Was it as good as you'd hoped?"

He was looking me right in the eyes, and a slight smile formed on his lips. I could see his eyes twinkle, and the smile grew larger, and he reached out and stroked the side of my face and said, "You're kidding, right?"

"No, I'm not kidding. I'm concerned and checking. This was our first time. I want it to be as good as possible for you."

The smile was growing larger, and the dimples were showing. "You see, David, this is why I love you. You care more about whether I had a terrific time than if you did. First, I'm going to tell you that from now on we can be heroes, and from now on it's us. We're one now, you know what I mean. It's not an intellectual concept. You've been inside me, and I'm going to be inside you and we're one."

He was grinning, but I could see in his eyes that he was deadly serious. "So, see these lips. They move when I talk. Watch what I'm saying to you: having your cock buried inside of me was the best feeling in my life. So hot, so full, so alive. Cumming while you were fucking me was monumental. You were so careful and concerned, you couldn't have been any better." He was grinning widely now, the dimples in full flare, clearly enjoying being able to be so absolutely honest and verbally direct.

"Now you tell me how it felt for you."

First, I kissed him. "The first thing I have to say is that it is now a certainty that the Invisible Kid no longer exists. And I'm really glad about that for a lot of reasons. He was a sick kid, but now he's healthy. Plus, he never would have been able to directly tell me how it felt to have me fuck him. I'm having trouble talking about it, but I will for you.

"How did it feel for me? If it had to be one word it would either be bliss or overwhelming. As soon as my cock started slipping into you it felt like I was sliding into a black velvet tunnel, so soft and so smooth and so sensuous that everything I thought about previously doesn't even come close to describing it. The other thing I hadn't even thought about, that made it unbelievable was that I was fucking you from the front and I could watch your face, watch the bliss move across it in waves, and I could watch your eyes. They were so intense, so beautiful, and so wonderful to see as you got closer and closer and they glazed over. And then when you came, your face was just transfixed. Beautiful and transfixed. Like you were transported to someplace else for a short period of time."

"I was transported. It was bliss. I know because I looked it up after you used it once. It means 'oblivious to everything else.' Actually, I was oblivious to everything but one thing. That one thing was your amazing cock in my ass. I never lost that feeling. It was so hot and so filling and so, so… so you. See, I'm running out of words. So, we're one. That's what matters. Two halves, one bliss, whatever. We're one, right."

"Right, Lover Boy, and I've never been happier in my life. And you nailed it when you said Heroes is the song of our life, because it's all about the "us," the two becoming one. Maybe we should make a pact to listen to it every day for the rest of our life."

"I'm up for that, Rev." He was starting to fall asleep in my arms.

"I love you Jackson, more than anything. Now turn on your other side and spoon back into me so I can hold you like you deserve to be held."

I was laying on my back. I knew it was 5:30 because I felt him wake up. But this time he turned over my way, draped an arm over my chest, kissed me on the cheek and said, "It won't be long, and this is the way it'll be every morning. We can wake up together."

I clasped his arm to my chest and said, "I can't wait. And you can sleep for another hour before you have to go get ready for school." He did and then headed home through his fort. It was a pretty reflective and introspective morning. Meaning in a positive way. I realized that the night before had been a rite of passage from which there was no going back, but I also knew it was just fine by me, and just right for me. I was who I was. We were who we were, and now we were "us" in a whole new way. The world would have to work long and hard to change that.

Getting fucked is pretty amazing! I'm not trying to be gross, which is new for me, but it's just amazing in a beautiful way if what you're after is being one. That's what I've finally realized about the sex we've been having and the way our relationship has grown. It's not about getting off, but that's part of it, it's about getting together. Getting closer, being one, and the ultimate way to be one is sexual, for two guys like us is fucking, where our bodies are so closely connected and the sensations, we create for each other are so intense it's like we get welded together or something.

I know that sounds crazy, and for someone who's not gay or not a romantic probably sounds sick or like total crap. All I can say is that it's real. Until the last few weeks the only way I thought about it was a quick hump and getting off for the rush. Now I realize how different it can be. When David made love to me on my birthday, it was so slow and sensuous. He was so delicate, so careful that it was the best for me, and when his cock came inside of me, yeah, it felt hot and sexy and all of that, but it also felt like we were bonding in a way I'd never even thought of before. I'd never climaxed like that, the feeling of having your lover's cock in your ass when you come, but it wasn't just that. It was so much more, so organic, so connected, so joined together. I know I'm probably babbling, but I'm trying to figure this out.

I was so wrong just thinking about it as a sex sensation. What I'd missed was how it brought us together. Which makes you think, who'd want to go get it off with some random guy? I was with my Sexy Man, the most important person in the world to me, and he did something to me and for me that no one else ever has or ever will. He made me his. He made me complete. He made me ecstatic. He made me bliss. I'll never forget it.

The hard thing will be to keep being able to have it be the same, and to be able to do for him what he did for me. I've just got to be slow and caring. Not worry about if my cock is big enough or any of that shit. I love him. I want him to feel good. That's what I've got to focus on. Making him feel good. What's amazing is that I know he wants me to fuck him too. He's done everything to let me know, and that means he thinks I'm equal. Go figure. Me a high school senior and he's twenty-five and a minister and he treats me like I'm equal! Five months ago, I was the Invisible Kid, and now my Sexy Man has not only fucked me but wants me to fuck him. Does it get any better than this?

What I've learned is that it does. Maybe that's the most amazing thing since I met him on July 4 th . Each day, each week, it's gotten better. And better. We love each other more. We enjoy each other more. We give each other more pleasure. I'm probably starting to sound out of it, and this is just a journal, but not only am I amazed we finally got to the point of him fucking me, but I've realized what's going on is so much bigger than that, and it will continue to get better and better.

I guess when you grow up in the shitty family situation like I did you can't imagine anything that good or anything getting better. But it is, and it does. I'm living proof. Go figure!

So, this has been the greatest birthday ever. The vibe at home was nice for the first time ever, but that wasn't it. The presents from Mom and Gary were great, and the presents from David were amazing, but that's not it. What's is it, is that I'm loved. Emotionally and physically I'm loved. That may not sound like a big deal to most people but it's huge for me, because I finally know that I'm worthwhile.

Jackson came by after school and I asked him how it went when he got home. He said it was so cool. His Mom was still in bed when he came in the kitchen, but Gary was up, ready to cover for him if she'd woken up early.

When I asked what he said, he quipped that Gary's comment was, "You look refreshed, Little Brother. You also look like you're totally in love."

"What did you say," I asked him? "I said, 'Thanks, Gary. I think this is what bliss feels like, and I hope it's that way for you and Lois."


"And, he smiled and acted embarrassed. I didn't ask him if he already knew what it felt like. That's not my business."

I smiled. "Smart boy!"

"I've got to get home so I can start on homework, then help with dinner. Then we've got band practice tonight, then I've got reading to do. It's a busy day."

"How did you feel today. Your body I mean?"

He grinned. "You mean was I walking funny? No, I wasn't. I felt like I got stretched, that's all. Just goes to show that practice makes perfect! Anyhow, I'm planning on coming over Friday night after we get back from Susan and Ellen's, Okay? Do we have any plans for Saturday?"

"More than anything, it'll depend on the weather." We agreed to decide tomorrow, and after a sweet kiss, Jackson headed home. Friday was a partly cloudy day, and the forecast for the weekend was high clouds with some sun. I finished up my sermon work and had everything organized for Sunday by the time Jackson came by after school.

We met in the kitchen for a quick hug and kiss. "How was your day, Lover Boy?"

"It was long. School's not getting any easier. Frankenstein hasn't been that difficult reading. Macbeth will be more complicated. Spanish is moving to grammar from vocabulary, and that's more complicated. Psych is still about the same, but lots of case study reading. World History is always interesting, but it's more reading. Music and choir is actually fun because Miss Albright has us working on two-part and four-part harmonies, and it is tantalizing us with whether the first piece the choir will perform will be a Renaissance classic or a Beach Boys song!"

"Are you serious?"

"Yeah, that's what she said. Of course, she didn't tell us which. You know, she's playing us along!"

"But it's fun?"

"Yeah, way fun, and we're all learning and having a good time. By the way, Will asked me about this."

He held up his right arm and pulled back his sleeve to reveal the Lovebirds bracelet. I raised my eyebrows, feeling the panic rise.

"What did he say," I blurted out.

"He wanted to know what it was and where I got it. I told him it was a birthday present and moved right on to tell him about the David Bowie album your friend got you for me, that isn't released yet in the US, and he wigged out. That's what I hoped would happen. He's got to borrow it, don't you know, he has to listen to it! And I'm fine with that. I just don't want him to get too inquisitive. I may be legal, but we've got to get through this year, right?"

I nodded. "If worse comes to worst, where's he on gays? Can he be trusted?"

"I don't know. He's open minded, not one of those seed cap red necks, but he's never said anything to let me know. We'll just have to be cool and see how it plays out. Look, Rev, I've got to go home and do some homework, and get started with dinner even though I won't be there. Gary should be getting home pretty soon, and I can turn it over to him. Mom thinks it's pretty cool that one of my teachers invited us over for dinner. Then I'll be back a little after 6:00, Okay? What's the plan for tomorrow?"

"The weather looks like partly cloudy with sun, so I was thinking we go to the beach. What do you think? It'll be windy and cool, but not raining. Are you game? We need to leave by 6:10 this evening to go to Susan and Ellen's. Will Gary be Okay with you sleeping here after we get back, or do you need to go home and all that?"

"I'll find out from Gary this evening. See you later, my Sexy Man!"

Jackson was back a little after 6:00, and we hopped in the El Camino and headed for Susan and Ellen's home. They knew about the birthday celebration that Lilly had wanted to have at home for Jackson, and so they asked us to join them for dinner on Friday for their version of the celebration.

We arrived on time, and I had a bottle of wine I had bought last time I went grocery shopping. Ellen met us at the door, and Susan was in the kitchen. We walked through and joined her and settled in for what was a fun and friendly evening of food and conversation. We got all the humorous stuff about Jackson turning eighteen out of the way in the first ten minutes, and then, somehow, he and Susan were talking about choir and singing, and The Beach Boys versus Orlando de Lassus and I found myself talking to Ellen about the likely course of events with Lilly.

That was not the happiest of subjects, as Ellen was taking a professional approach and wanted me to be sure to understand that the odds were no better than fifty percent that the chemo and radiation had contained the cancer. "Remember, she had a mass, and that means she had a significant cancerous growth in her liver, and we don't know how far, if at all, it spread. It could have spread locally in the liver itself or the main vessels, or it could have metastasized and spread outside the organ. The tests led us to believe that metastasis didn't happen. That's what we're going to learn. If it hadn't spread outside her liver, then the odds are good for a positive response. If it had spread, then we're likely to see a relapse. However, let's not spoil the evening talking about that." We joined the conversation about choir singing.

Susan had dinner ready, and we all helped serve the table. It was a lovely poulet au pot , a whole chicken roasted in a casserole pot with vegetables and potatoes. The accompanying salad and bread were wonderful, and the whole meal was a delight. After we'd cleared the dishes from the table, and they both insisted that we leave the kitchen immediately and return to the dining room, they made Jackson and I sit back down at the table. Ellen disappeared into the kitchen, returning in a few minutes with a small, but beautiful cake with a single candle in it.

Jackson was delighted, wanting to know what it was, and Susan explained that it was a small two-layer carrot cake, with cream cheese frosting. Jackson was all eyes, and asked about the one candle, in as much as he was now eighteen. "I mean, I know older people get embarrassed about their age and stuff, but I think it's pretty cool that I just turned eighteen, don't you?"

Susan looked him straight in the eyes and said, "We both think it's fabulous that you just turned eighteen, and the one candle is because you're a Number One guy." She then looked at me. "Right, Pastor David?" I smiled and said nothing.

Jackson, very smartly, remained silent. Ellen leaned over and took his hand. "We're both sorry that we had to confront you two a couple of months ago. Your life is your business, not ours, but we were very concerned that in our professional positions we were going to be forced to do something we absolutely did not want to do. You did understand that, didn't you?"

I was being purposefully silent. Jackson looked at Ellen, and then at Susan, and said, "Yes, we did understand that. I have to tell you both, though, that the Rev had to pull over on the side of the road on the drive home and explain it to me because I thought it was all over. As in busted and going to jail, all over." He was giggling. They looked horrified.

"Oh no, that's not what we wanted."

"Susan, Ellen, can I say something?" It was my turn to comment.

"What you did was among the most compassionate and professional interventions I've ever experienced. You were more than candid about your own lives, something you did not have to do. You warned us off in a strong, but loving and caring way, and probably saved us. We had a moment of panic, but that was the point. Not much more than that needs to be said. I will be candid, perhaps crass, and say that you saved our asses! We had lost track of how we might have appeared, and you gave us the course correction we needed. Now, I have mixed my metaphors mightily, and maybe we should leave it at that, but we both want you to know that you're not only among the most important people in our lives, you are simply the best! Someday soon we'll all talk about the details, but not tonight when you are conducting a superb celebration of this kid's birthday."

Jackson winced at that comment and said, "What do you mean kid? I stopped being a kid a long time ago!"

They both smiled mightily, enjoying the jab at Jackson and knowing that much more discussion would be getting into details better left unsaid at this point. Jackson was still glowing and got up out of his chair and said, "I want to give both of you a hug, because like the Rev said, you two are the best!"

He proceeded to do so, and they proceeded to blush like crazy. Smiling happily, but blushing, nonetheless. Ellen magically made a quart of vanilla ice cream appear, and we set about eating carrot cake with ice cream.

The conversation continued over dessert, then Susan got up and opened a drawer in the sideboard and pulled out two gifts. Both were clearly albums. She handed one to Ellen and then sat down. She turned to Jackson and said, "We both wanted to give you a birthday gift, in as much as you don't turn eighteen but once. We discussed all kinds of possibilities but given your being back in music class and singing again, and soon to be in the choir as well as in Will's rock band, we both thought the gifts should be music. I'll let Ellen tell you about hers."

She handed Jackson the gift. "I'm giving you this one on purpose, because while it is probably among the most well-known classical choir performances ever, this is a particularly well-done performance."

Jackson smiled, a little embarrassed, and unwrapped the album. It was the 1976 recording of Handel's Messiah, by Sir Neville Marriner, with the Academy and Chorus of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. He looked up and said, "Cool. Even I recognize this composition. It gets played a lot at Christmas and Easter, right?"

Susan said, "Yes, and everyone knows the Halleluiah Chorus, but the piece is much more than that. What most people hear is what's known as the 'massed choir' performance approach. Lots and lots of voices, kind of like the wall of sound you two have talked about, but because of that much of the technical detail and subtlety of the composition gets lost. This is considered a landmark performance in the history of the work, because it was the first recording of the version used by Handel for the work's 1743 London premiere. So, Sir Neville Marriner deliberately chose to break with the massed-choir treatments of the past and that produced a phenomenal and authentic recording."

Jackson smiled and said, "That's a lot for an amateur like me to absorb, but I'm sure David will make sure I don't forget the important parts, and I'll do my best to appreciate the things you pointed out. Can we talk about it some more after I listen to it, you know the technical details and stuff?"

"Of course. I think that's what music teachers are supposed to do." She looked at Ellen.

"I haven't heard you sing, but Susan is giving you rave reviews for the quality of your voice and your enthusiasm. I'm familiar with the range of music Susan will cover in her class, and what you're likely to sing in the choir. None of it will be opera, and I think that's a shame, but it is a musical genre that is difficult to include in a choir setting. So, I'm giving you an opera recording that just came out because I hope it catches your attention in a new and different way."

She slid her gift across the table, and Jackson looked a tad embarrassed again. The unwrapped album was titled Pavarotti: Hits From Lincoln Center. I was pretty certain he'd never listened to opera. I was sure Ellen knew that. I hadn't listened to much either.

He smiled at her, not quite knowing what to say. It would be much like giving Pavarotti a copy of Nazareth's album Hair of the Dog and waiting for the reaction! Ellen knew just what she was doing.

"So, look here, Jackson, the best opera singers are uniformly understood to have the best voices and the greatest vocal ability, that is singing ability, there is. I'm not trying to turn you into an opera fan, far less trying to encourage you to sing opera. Are we clear on that?"

He grinned now. "What I'm hoping is that you'll give it a serious listen or two, and especially that you'll seriously listen to one song, one of the arias on this album. If I'm lucky, and if I'm reading you correctly, you may just find that the aria I'm talking about is a doorway for you, a way into appreciating operatic singing. You may never sing opera. You may decide it's the only aria in all of opera that you like, and that's fine too. What I'm talking about is Pavarotti singing Nessum Dorma , the main aria in Puccini's opera Turandot . I find it to be the most emotional and passionate aria, and Pavarotti's singing of it is to die for."

She paused. Jackson said nothing, sensing she had more to say. He just kept watching her. "The only other thing I'll say, and it's about Pavarotti, is this. You may never have heard of him, let alone heard him sing." Jackson was shaking his head. "Well, you know what a high C is, right? Can you hit a high C? Pavarotti brought the house down not too many years ago when he sang nine high C's in a row in the aria La figlia del reggimento . That aria isn't on this album, which is too bad, but think about those things when you listen to it and consider just how magnificent the human voice can be. That's all. I hope you enjoy it!"

Jackson was speechless, which was unusual. Finally, he managed to get out, "Thank you both. I don't know what I did to deserve these or even dinner. I know, I know, it's just that the way I grew up people didn't do things like this for each other. So, I'm kind of embarrassed and thankful at the same time. I really appreciate the dinner and the gifts. It's really thoughtful of you."

We all conversed a while longer, and then Jackson and I took our leave. We were very thankful for the evening, and not just that they'd had a birthday celebration for him, but that they had made a point of talking about the warning they'd given us a couple of months back. Our affection for them was beyond words.

We weren't far beyond where we'd had to pull over on our last drive home from their house when Jackson asked, "What did you think?"

That question could go in a half dozen directions. "Where to begin?"

"Well, it was a nice birthday dinner, and really sweet of them to do, and the presents were really thoughtful too, although they're both new to me."

"Yes, and the dinner was great too, didn't you think? And then there was that carrot cake with cream cheese frosting!" I was wiggling my eyebrows now, and he was grinning.

"Yeah, that was one outrageous cake. I won't be forgetting that one for a long time!"

"What did you think of their approach to the warning they gave us?"

"At first I was surprised because I didn't know if they'd bring it up or not, you know, like maybe they'd be embarrassed about it or something."

I paused. "Well, what I think is that they were embarrassed, but it's not the kind of embarrassment you're thinking of. They were kind of embarrassed not that they did it to us, but that they had to do it to save our asses."

He was thinking about that. "I guess that's so. What they told us about them being a couple means they're like us, but they had this handicap of being mandatory reporters and they had to make sure we didn't force their hand. Is that what you mean?"

"Pretty much. And that, in my book, means they're among the most important people in our lives because they went that far, they risked their personal relationships with us in order to not have to harm us and ruin our relationship. That's pretty amazing."

"Do you think they accept who we are?"

"I do," I said, "and the time will come when we can have a candid conversation with them about it. Tonight, I think they wanted to clear the air and celebrate your birthday. They told us they were a couple, and they certainly know we're a couple. So, when the time comes, we can let the discussion happen. No need to rush it. Does that make sense to you?"

"Yeah, but it's kind of weird having one of my teachers be in the know about me. I mean other than Gary and Lois, I mean I guess Lois, nobody else knows. But one of my teachers knows. That's pretty weird."

"Weird isn't necessarily bad. Weird can be good. In this case it is good."

We were pulling in the driveway at that point. I shifted the El Camino into park and turned off the ignition and leaned over his way. He automatically leaned my way over the console, and I wrapped an arm around him. "Pretty great evening. They love you; you know?"

"I guess I do. I'm still getting used to having people love me. I mean beside you, Rev, because what we've got is different and special. But you're right. I'll get there…I mean understanding it and accepting it."

"Speaking of love, let's go inside and go upstairs. You're sure you don't have to go home or check in first or something?"

"No, Gary said he and Lois were going to an early movie and he'd be home before now, so he'd make sure Mom was Okay going to bed and stuff. I owe him now."

"You do. We both do," I said as we got out of the El Camino and walked to the kitchen door. "What goes around comes around. We'll be taking care of him or them before too long, I'm sure."

We didn't even bother turning on any lights, just walked up the stairs hand in hand. "You realize we're going to bed together in the 'usual' way for the first time. We went on a date and now we're home, and we're both going to bed together. That's pretty cool."

He squeezed my hand and said, "Someday, and hopefully not to long from now, it'll be like this every night."

We quickly stripped to our boxers and hung up our clothes, and I said, "First dibs on the bathroom. I need to brush my teeth and get clean for you. I'll leave the enema bulb out if you want to use it."

He smiled and blew me a kiss. I was sitting on the foot of the bed when he came out of the bathroom five minutes later. He looked radiant, like a young god. The light from the bedside table lamp was catching him just right, painting a golden glow on the left side of his body and face, which contrasted remarkably with the darkness on the other side.

"Let me look at you," I said. "You are so much fitter than you were in July. Not like you bulked up or anything, but you've got this great muscle definition."

I took his hand in one of mine, and with the other traced his pectoral muscles. "See, there's a new ridge here. Probably from running the string trimmer all summer. And look, there's these absolutely beautiful nipples right here on top of the muscles." I tweaked them softly, and he winced, but he was smiling.

I ran my index finger down what was slowly becoming the beginning of his abdominal muscle definition. "See, it's getting so muscular down here too. Are you doing a hundred sit ups every morning? This is so sexy."

He was getting just a little ticklish, and I ran my fingertips around the elastic waist of his boxers, "See, so trim and tight and fit. Just perfect, in my book." As I went around the waist band, I was pushing his boxers down, and now I could see the top of his pubes.

"I know what you're doing! This is a kid of strip tease, isn't it," he asked with a chuckle?

"Call it what you want. I call it beautiful. Look at these beautiful pubes. They're getting thicker and thicker, and they have the most beautiful color." I kept pushing his boxers down. "And they lead to this most amazing cock that lives right below them." The boxers had dropped off his waist and down to his ankles, and I was softly stroking the base of his hard shaft. "See, how beautiful this is. It's one of the most beautiful things in my life."

And now I looked him straight in the eyes, because I was worried that somehow or for some reason, he'd fall into a passive role tonight because he was younger or felt he needed to defer. "You know what else?"

He looked at me. He was smiling silently, but his hazel eyes were sparkling quietly in the soft light, and they seemed to ask "What?"

"There's nothing I want more right now than to have that beautiful cock of yours inside me. Lover Boy, will you take me? Will you fuck me? I want to feel you inside me because then we will be completely one."

I saw his eyes widen, like somehow that statement had taken him a bit by surprise, but his smile grew, and he continued to look straight into my eyes. "I love you David. That's why I want to be inside you. That's why I want to fuck you, because I know we'll be one then too."

He leaned over and kissed me, whispering, "Drop those boxers!"

I wiggled out of them, and he pushed me back on the bed, laying on top of me, kissing me passionately. It felt so good to have his weight, his heat, the feel of his skin on mine. He was running his fingers through my hair, holding my head where he wanted it so he could French kiss me the way he wanted. I felt his hard cock rubbing on my belly, sliding next to mine, and I started getting lost in the sensations. He paused and lifted himself up on his elbows, and whispered, "The other night was the best night of my life. I want this to be the best night of your life."

He kissed me softly and then slid down to kiss and lick my neck and then my chest and nipples, and now I was writhing on the bed. He slid off to the side of me so he could stroke my belly, and then the kissing moved south till I felt his lips nuzzling in my pubes and his hand around my cock. He slid down so he was kneeling between my legs, and as I'd done to him, licked up my thighs to my scrotum, while slowly stroking my cock. I was on fire, writhing on the bed.

I heard him whisper, "Slide up on the bed." I felt his breath on my cock before he took it in his mouth, all the while stroking my belly and up to my chest, playing with my nipples. I was groaning now, and he released my cock and with his hands behind my knees pushed my legs up. I followed his guidance, and as he spread my legs apart, I felt his tongue on my perineum and then a second later on my anus. He slowly licked it, then started circling it with his tongue, and I thought I'd die. It didn't take long and I felt myself open and his tongue start to dart into me. It was unbelievable. I was lost in the moment, and only vaguely recognized the coolness that happened next, the Vaseline on his fingers as he slipped one and then two and finally three fingers into me. Each push passed over my prostate and I bucked and whimpered.

In the midst of those sensations I heard him call my name. When I opened my eyes and looked at him, the expression was a mix of passion and desire. He put the head of his cock against my anus, slowly starting to slide in. "David, I love you."

Our practice had paid off, and his cock started slipping into me, and then I felt the resistance at the first muscle ring. No pain, just resistance that quickly resolved when he pulled back and then slowly forward again, and then the feeling of more of him inside of me. He passed my prostate and I groaned, and he said, "Are you Okay?

"Yes, go on. Fuck me, please." I wasn't watching, my eyes were closed tracking the sensations as they happened inside of me. He slowed, first tentative and finally more firmly pushed until he was all the way in. I felt his pubes against my ass.

"Jackson, oh my god, it's amazing. Just go slow for a minute. There's no pain, it's just tight, but that'll pass." And it did, within thirty seconds. "Okay, go on, fuck me, slowly."

He began to, being so careful, and I immediately started to relax. The tightness left, and I looked at him. "It's amazing. Your cock is wonderful, so filling. Go on, fuck me, please. Hard."

His hands grasped my arms giving him leverage, and I felt my legs drop down, crossed behind his waist.

"Take me, Lover Boy, please, take me."

I suddenly understood the sensations of having a cock running over your prostate, on top of the sheer sensuousness of having it inside you, sliding easily in and out, stimulating your entire being. I reached up to stroke his face as he pumped in and out of me, amazed at the love and sensations I was feeling, which I thought of as him bestowing on me.

It wasn't that long before I saw the look in his eyes that he was getting close, and his strokes were shorter and more intense, working directly on my prostate. Without consciously realizing what I was doing, I began to stroke my cock, which was now covered in precum. It was so slick and sensitive that I knew I wouldn't last long. His stroking was perfect, giving a whole new meaning to what a climax could feel like, and I heard his say, "David, I'm going to cum!"

"Go on, Lover, cum. Cum in me. Make me yours." I saw his climax in his eyes before I felt him cum inside me. It was so hot that it set me off and I started shooting onto my chest.

I could feel my anus clamp on his cock, and felt him start to soften, but he stayed inside me. "I never want to leave. I feel like I'm whole." I knew he'd be too sensitive shortly, and just waited, and eventually he slid out of me, and wildly clambered up on top or me, hugging and kissing me."

'God, David, that was so good. I had no idea. Like you said about a velvet tunnel, only hot, really hot. Being inside you was mind blowing. I've never come like that. Was it good for you?"

I could see the concern in his eyes as he asked. "Are you kidding me? It was just like you said, climaxing with a cock in your ass is completely different. It was amazing. Feeling you in me, filling me, inside me, and then when you came, feeling you shoot in me, all made it so intense, so magical for me, I can barely describe it. I love you."

I pulled him in for a long kiss, and we just lay like that for a time, him on me, his weight and heat and my cum between us. I pulled the sheet over us and just held him, embracing him tightly, pulling him onto me for all I was worth.

Eventually we'd recovered, and I felt our breathing return back to normal, and suggested we clean up. It was beautiful too. I wiped him with a hand cloth and kissed him while I dried his body. He did the same to me. I used the toilet, then we were back in bed, snuggled together holding on to each other for dear life.

"Was it as good as you thought it would be," I whispered in his ear.

"As good, maybe better. What made it so good was you, my Sexy Man."

I whispered, "I love you, Jackson." He replied the same, and I felt him fall asleep.

Saturday morning was a new experience. We awoke together about 5:30 AM, and this time he didn't have to leave early. I felt him come back to bed from a bathroom trip, and when he'd settled in, I said, "I have to pee too. Hold on."

I was back in a couple of minutes, and pulled him to me, loving the feeling of him snuggling into me, kissing and licking my neck. I was stroking his back and bum and could feel us both getting hard. After a few minutes, I let my finger slip down his crack and began to rub his anus. He shuddered and kissed me harder. I wet my finger with saliva and slowly slipped it into him, far enough to rub his prostate. I felt his breathing increase and he began to groan.

"David, that feels amazing, but this has to be two way. I'm going to suck your cock."

I pulled my finger out, and he threw back the sheet and slipped around so he could reach my cock. Before he did, I felt him reach behind me and slowly slip toward my anus. Then before he took my cock in his mouth, I felt a wet finger at my entrance. I slipped my finger back into him and took his cock in my mouth. We both concentrated on prostate rubbing and sucking each other. When we came in a few minutes, it was almost simultaneous, and incredibly intense.

When Jackson swung back around and nuzzled into my neck, he said, "Maybe we should forget the beach and just stay here and do that a couple more times today!"

I was slow on the response. "That's tempting, but no. We're going to the beach. We need to get out and get away for a while. No rush. When you're ready we'll clean up, then make breakfast, and then we'll head for the beach. Your choice: the Gearhart/Cannon Beach area or down at Lincoln City."

He thought a minute. "There's more beach to walk on at Cannon Beach or Gearhart. Let's go there. And I know there's some good restaurants in Cannon Beach for lunch!"

We slept for another hour, and then I slid out of bed, showered and dressed and headed downstairs to start the coffee and organize some breakfast. He was down twenty minutes later, looking still a little sleepy, but smiling happily. "It's so cool to wake up here in bed with you, shower and stuff and then just walk downstairs knowing you'll be here. No fort, no sneaking in and out, just us. That's what's so great! Just us. Being us!"

"I know the feeling, and it is wonderful. One day, and it won't be too long, it'll be like this. I promise you. We'll make it happen. Now, the coffee is ready over there. Will you pour me another cup when you get yours, and I'll start the Gas House Specials?"

He patted my bum and kissed me lightly and we set to work. We were on the road by 9:00, and it was only an hour to the coast. It was a county road north to Hwy 26, then straight northwest from there. The traffic was light, and we were driving up to Gearhart first, knowing there was a large expanse of beach that would have few people on it.

As we settled down into the straight drive on the highway, Jackson reached over and lifted my right hand off the steering wheel, and just held it, both our hands resting on the console. I shuddered, as I could feel his fingertips dancing on the back of my hand. "How are you feeling this morning," he asked softly?

I glanced his way, smiling back. "I feel like a new man! I'm heading for a quiet day at the beach with my boyfriend, who made wild and sensuous love to me last night. I slept like a baby with him in my arms. We had a peaceful breakfast together this morning. What a deal!"

He smiled back, his eyes sparkling. "I feel the same way. How do you feel, you know, down there?"

I grinned "if you mean, is my ass sore? Well, the answer is no. Like you said, it feels a little stretched. That's a new sensation, but I plan on getting used to it. In case you're worried about it, having you inside me was an amazing experience. For the record, no concern about size—it was a perfect fit!" I saw a flash of relief on his face. Then he smiled.

"How did it compare to when you were inside me?"

"Well, it was different, for sure. A different experience, a different feeling. I guess I think about it as the other side of the coin or something. Maybe a better way to say it is the Chinese concept of ying and yang, you know, the two curved shapes that fit together to make a circle. They're different but the same in many ways. The initial feeling of you sliding in and filling me, stimulating all these feelings was amazing, then when we both got going and you were starting to get close you shifted to shorter faster strokes that were hammering on my prostate, that was totally over the top. I mean, I wasn't even really hard, and I still came more amazingly than I ever have."

He was quiet. "Is that more information than you asked for?" He shook his head and smiled again. "No, I think it's important we be able to talk about it all so we're sure we're doing the right thing, you know, doing it the right way, so it's the best for each other."

I squeezed his hand. "It's liberating to be able to talk about it and not be hung up and embarrassed or anything like that, isn't it?"

He nodded, smiling widely. "It felt unbelievable when I slid inside you. I mean like overwhelming, and then watching you, your face was so beautiful, it was so expressive, and you were feeling so good and showing it. And then when I came it was like that volcano going off again. But then afterwards I realized something completely new when we were laying together. I always used to think about it in terms of getting off, you know, when I was hassling you about getting in on with you and stuff. That was all about me getting my rocks off. This was different, yeah, there was a climax, a what do they call it….?"

"Ejaculation," I offered.

"Yeah, ejaculation, and that felt fabulous, but it was only a part of it. It was all rolled up with being in you, being held by you, watching you, experiencing you. So, it was about us, not about me. I guess I'm learning not to be so self-centered."

"I think we're both learning that, and I think we're both learning that love is a key ingredient of feeling that way. Being boyfriends is great and all, but we're lovers, and lovers care for each other. For lovers, people in love, it's about the couple not the single. That's what's so wonderful about where we are."

We grew quiet and turned north on Hwy 101 the few miles to Gearhardt. We found a dead-end street to park on, just above the beach, and were surprised to see a small herd of elk milling around. It was Fall, though, so the time of year game congregate to mate.

The cloud deck was high and broken, with occasional sun shining through, and just a slight breeze. We both had sweatshirts on, and also had rain jackets if the weather changed, and leisurely headed up the beach. There was no one around, and I reached for his hand. I felt him respond, but also look at me questioningly. "We're alone here. It's part of why I wanted to get away. We can be us, right? When we get to Canon Beach it will be crowded and we'll have to play the 'in public' game."

He leaned over and kissed me, and we kept walking, hand in hand for a mile or so. We had no destination and no schedule. It was just us being together. The beach was open and rose to a sand dune held in place with sea grass. We found a large log pile washed up against the dune and settled down to watch the waves break. Jackson sat between my legs, leaning back on my chest, and I had my hands clasped over his on his chest.

"Do you remember the first time we did this," I whispered?

"Sure do. It was on the bike ride up the mountain from Susan and Ellen's house. I felt so secure and so happy being held like this. That's when I knew my Sexy Man was for real and forever."

I don't know how long we sat there, but talked about all kinds of things, just pleasant conversation that kept us filled in on each other's lives. Finally, we grew quiet.

Eventually he hugged my hands and said, "Penny for your thoughts."

"I was just thinking some more about our conversation on the drive, about making love and completing us, and the ying and yang and all that stuff."

"Go on…"

"Well, you know we're a minority, I mean gays in the population. And most people think we're depraved or mentally ill or worse, right? But for all those people it's pretty much a one-way street. From an evolutionary perspective it's all about reproduction, with the male impregnating the female, and there's good feelings that go along with it. What just floated into my mind, thinking about what we have is reciprocity instead of reproduction."

He was quiet for a bit. "Okay, Rev, help me out."

"Reciprocity is reciprocal, as in what's given or felt or done in return. In our case it means we become one in a way than men and women can never experience. Women can't enter their man, it's a one-way deal in the other direction. Tied to that is the notion of submission and penetration. We've talked about that before, how in ancient times the opposition to anal sex was that in a hierarchal society it was seen as submitting to and being dominated by another person. Only the powerful should do such a thing. Remember that?"

"Yeah, go on."

"Well, it just seems to me that when you really love someone, like we do, and the focus is on the us, being one, then submission and penetration take on a whole new meaning. The willingness to be submissive, the willingness to allow oneself to be penetrated, to accept being on the receiving end, adds an entirely new dimension to the dynamic."

"Reciprocity instead of reproduction. I like the idea. It sure applies to us. You let me take you last night, and I'm guessing for most relationships between an older man and a teenager that doesn't happen. I think you figured out I was feeling just a little timid or something. You made me feel not just loved, but important and equal."

"Maybe I'm being too intellectual about this?"

"No, no. It's important. At least it is for me, someone still recovering from being the Invisible Kid. You made me not just your lover, but your equal in a way no one else ever has or ever will. And I'll love you forever and ever for that."

Once again, we grew silent, reflecting on the significance of what we'd been talking about. Finally, we got up and started walking back down toward where the El Camino was parked. We were about halfway back when we saw a lady with a Golden Retriever heading our way up the beach. She was throwing a frisbee, and the dog not only knew how to catch it and retrieve but was athletic enough that it could catch it in the air. We stopped and watched, and Jackson was amazed.

As they drew abreast of us, the lady looked our way and smiled, and I said, "That's some dog you've got. He's not only beautiful, he's an amazing athlete."

She grinned, obviously proud, and called him over and made him drop the frisbee. "Do you want to meet Pre?"

"You bet," we both said simultaneously, and walked over to them. Pre was a friendly dog, immediately deciding we would be more fun and give him more attention than his owner. Pretty soon the petting turned into licking and running around in circles. Jackson acted like he found a new best friend, and it was clear that Pre liked him too. The lady tossed him the frisbee and said, "Here, play fetch with him for a minute."

She and I watched, and fortunately for Pre, Jackson knew how to throw a frisbee. He didn't overthrow Pre's pace, and managed to keep the frisbee in front of him and about four feet high. Pre loved it, jumping up to snatch it out of the air, and then happily running back to drop it at Jackson's feet.

We were both grinning as we watched them. I asked, "Tell me about naming him Pre?"

She smiled at that. "You must not be a native Oregonian, or you'd know he's named after Steve Prefontaine, the U of Oregon runner who ran in the 1972 Olympics, set all kinds of distance records, but died in a car accident a couple of years ago. Pre is three and a half, so we got him while Steve was still alive, and the dog is such an athlete, a natural runner, and you can see what he can do in the air to catch that frisbee. I'm a runner too, so naming him after a local star runner just seemed natural."

"Wow! That makes sense and is very cool. You're right, I'm not a native. I moved here a few months ago."

"Where from? You sound like you grew up back east, but I can't pin down where."

I smiled. "My family is from the Philadelphia area, but I spent a few years overseas in high school, so I don't have the typical Philly accent. I went to college in New England and then grad school in So Cal, so I've got a little bit of everything!"

"That explains a lot. I mean about the accent. Are you just visiting here? Do you live in Portland?"

"No, I live in Newberg. I'm the pastor at the Presbyterian Church there, and Jackson is the youngest son of one of our church families. He's one of our youth counselors and we're just taking the day off to chill at the coast. He sure seems to be getting along with Pre, doesn't he?"

She grinned. "He's an incredibly friendly dog, but there's friendly and 'friendly.' He knows people that like dogs for certain. Jackson appears to have passed the test."

We watched them a couple of minutes longer, and Jackson and Pre worked their way back down the beach our way. I waved him over, and asked him how he could be having that much fun with a dog whose name he didn't even know?

He looked quizzical, then said, "Well, Rev, having me know his name doesn't seem to be something he's hung up about, you know!"

We all laughed at that. "True, true. His name is Pre, named after Steve Prefontaine."

Jackson perked at that. "I know that name. Wasn't he a track star or something?"

The lady said, "He was much more than that. He was a great athlete, and so is this dog, so that's why we named him Pre."

"That's very cool, and very appropriate," Jackson said. "Thanks for letting me throw the frisbee for him." He knelt down and pulled Pre to him and gave him a huge hug. Pre was loving it, licking Jackson's face, his tail wagging like crazy.

"Thanks so much for stopping, we really appreciate it. We'll let you get back to your walk with Pre. We're heading down to Canon Beach and enjoying the day while it's not raining."

The lady smiled, and Jackson said, "For sure, thanks. Most people would worry about letting their dogs or kids play with strangers. Thanks for trusting me."

She looked at him. "I didn't have to do much. Just give you the frisbee. He picks his own friends. He's a smart boy. He knows 'dog people' when he sees them. He came over to your first. You may not have noticed it, but he picked you before you decided you wanted to play with him."

"Really?" Jackson sounded surprised. "You saw all that? You know that happened?"

"Oh yes. He dropped the frisbee for me, but then he was looking at you. When you two asked about him and walked over here, didn't you see his tail wagging? He was looking at you with his happy face, like "Wow! A new friend!"

"That's so cool. I guess I've got a lot to learn about dogs. Thanks for letting me get to know Pre."

Then he knelt back down in front of Pre and gave him another hug. Pre licked his face, and he didn't flinch.

The lady said softly, "He doesn't do that with everyone. He really likes you. You passed the test!"

We thanked her again and walked down the beach towards the parking area. Jackson turned a couple of times and watched the lady and Pre walk up the beach. I didn't say anything till we were heading down Hwy 101.

"Did you and Gary have a dog when you were younger?"

"Nope. Bud wouldn't have any part of it. Buying food, cleaning up dog poop. We asked a lot and there was no way."

"That's too bad. You were probably about the only kids in town that didn't have a dog somewhere along the way in school. You get along with them pretty well. At least you did with Pre."

"A few of my friends had dogs, so I spent some time around them. I think I wanted one to have a friend I could love. You know, compared to how things were at home. A friendly guy who'd always accept me. Does that sound sad?"

"Are you kidding me? Nothing sad about it. Dogs are great companions, always accepting. I don't know if you'll read much about Alexander the Great in World History, but he had a favorite horse and a favorite dog. The favorite dog was named Peritas, and when the dog died, he named a city after it."

"Wow! Really?"

"Really. You know the phrase 'a dog is man's best friend?' Well in Alexander's time the observation was much more specific. Dogs were man's best friend because they always keep trust and never tell a lie."

"That's a much more powerful way to put it."

I smiled, "It does kind of cut to the heart of the matter. Back then you really had to worry about who kept your trust and who lied or didn't, not so much anymore."

He was silent as we drove south.

"Someday, when we get settled in our own place, we should think about getting a dog, don't you think?"

He looked at me like I was offering him a great treasure. "Are you serious? I'd love it. I never thought I was ready before, even though I wanted one. I mean I wanted a dog for the wrong reasons, and Will's dad always made a big deal about having to be responsible and care about the dog before you care about yourself, and stuff like that."

He was quiet again. I let him think. Finally, he said, "But I think I'd be a decent dog owner now. Maybe that's tied to being a decent boyfriend now. What do you think?"

I knew he was trying to make light of it, but also being very serious. I reached across the console and squeezed his thigh. "I think you'd make a great dog owner, just like you make a tremendous boyfriend."

He was silent again. I guess this was an introspective day. I glanced his way, and he looked back. I caught his eye and said, "You know what I'm missing on this drive?"

"What?" He sounded like he was worried he'd forgotten something we needed on the drive.

"I'm missing you sitting sideways in that seat, with your back against the door and your feet right here on my thigh." I patted my thigh for emphasis.

He smiled, then it became a kind of a smirk. "I guess I forgot. In my mind that probably went along with when I was being a smart-ass kid and always giving you a bad time. Now I'm legal and grown up, don't you know, so I guess I've started acting more like an adult."

I looked over at him and rolled my eyes.

"I'm your Lover Boy, though, so I can sure take that into account if you really care about it that much. I mean, you know I want you to be happy. It wouldn't do to have you being unhappy over something like that. You know, something I can fix so easily."

He was grinning now, with dimples in full flare. "You'll have to save it till we're driving home, because we're in Canon Beach now, but I think it would be nice. I love having that contact with you. Any contact with you. Contact with you all the time. You know what I mean?"

"Yes, my Sexy Man. I do, and I promise I'll take care of that need of yours on the drive home. I consider it so important to do that I'll even forego the opportunity to drive home." He was grinning now, and I smiled back.

We parked just off the highway and settled on a cool looking seafood restaurant for lunch. We both had fish and chips, and it was great. We were in luck this late in October, there were some people on the beach, but the throngs of tourists typical in the summer were long gone. We checked out Haystack Rock and walked along the water line as the tide came in. When we'd had enough beach walking, we decided to check out Ecola State Park that runs along nine miles of shore south of Canon Beach. The park turned out to be a beautiful, the entrance road running through a forest of Sitka spruce, and the shoreline running south punctuated with sea stacks like the famous Haystack Rock.

We walked around enough to realize that the park contained miles of trails, Native American historical sites, part of the Oregon Coast Trail and even a location where the Lewis and Clark Expedition visited! It was getting late, so we limited our exploring, but vowing to return next year and spend some time.

True to his word, when we got back in the car and headed home, Jackson ditched his shoes, rotated in the bucket seat, locked the door and rested his feet on my thighs. I sighed loudly, just so he'd know how happy I was, and rested my right hand on one of his ankles.

After a few minutes he was kneading my thigh with his toes, and I was sliding my hand up his calf and over his knee and rubbing the inside of his thigh. He was grinning mischievously.

"Penny for your thought?"

"I was thinking about last night and making love to you, and this morning when we both did it together. It's amazing. We're really doing this stuff together. We're making love. We're making each other feel so good. It's almost too good to be true."

"It is true. It is real. It is good. It's all those things. We just have to keep our eye on the prize, and the prize is 'us' just like David Bowie says."

He grinned at that and grew silent. I was stroking the inside of his thighs.

"If only it was summer and you had shorts on," I said, "I could slide right up there and play with that beautiful cock of yours!"

He grinned. "I knew that's why you wanted me sitting this way. You're just being horny and lecherous. You do know I'm barely over eighteen, don't you? Anyway, too bad for you, you have to wait till we get home."

"Did you hear what you said? You said, 'till we get home.' That sounds so good it makes my heart flutter. We'll have a home before long, Lover Boy. I don't know where or quite when, but we will. Trust me."

"I do. I'm in no rush. I know it'll happen. Right now, I'm happy. Happy and in love. That's a pretty cool combo, you know."

We bantered away like that all the way home. He'd slept with me last night, and we'd been gone all day, so he'd be at his house tonight. We'd agreed not to push a good thing. I pulled into Lilly's driveway when we got back, and we both walked in the house together. She was in the living room, and smiled, asking how our day went. We told her about the great beach walk, the cool park we'd discovered, and Jackson told her all about meeting Pre and what a cool dog he was, and what a frisbee athlete he was and how well they got along. It was fun to watch.

I asked about Gary, and she said he'd left just half an hour earlier on a date with Lois. I thanked Lilly for letting us have a good trip to the coast, and headed home. Jackson said he was going to take a shower, then help with dinner, and that he'd see me in the morning at church.

It was a lonely night compared to the night before, but Sunday morning came early, and I was content. I'd prepared the service and sermon in advance, and the last four days had been the best and most rewarding of my life.

The rain was still holding off on Sunday morning, but it would surely be back soon. Lilly was there with the boys, clearly feeling stronger three weeks after ending chemo. The Gospel reading was again in Luke and comprised the first ten verses of Chapter 9. This was the "sending out the disciples" passage when after a period of teaching Christ sends forth the disciples into ministry. At least that's how I remember it, but that's not what the passage says. It says they were sent forth "to proclaim the kingdom of God." There's nothing there about ministry. As this series of passages in Luke shows, the values of the kingdom of God have to do with taking care of the poor, accepting the stranger, and as Jesus adds for the disciples, driving out demons and curing diseases.

They entered a pretty barren existence: no staff or bag, no bed or money, no extra coat. That means an existence of total dependence on the acceptance and good will of those you encounter. And the summary statement is that they went out "and proclaimed the good news and healed people everywhere." It was hard to avoid the observation that there's a pretty stark difference between what they did and what we do. Do we proclaim the good news and heal people?

That's how I preached it, leaving the final question hanging for those in the pews. After, I chatted with Lilly for a minute, and then chatted with Gary and Jackson before they left. I had been invited to lunch when I got back from church. I told her I'd be there by 12:30. She smiled, and they left for home.

Saturday, while we were at the beach, the Campbell book I'd ordered for the study group arrived in the mail. It was a collection of lectures he'd given starting in 1971 at Cooper Union in New York City. I had two to read by Tuesday night. The first to catch up with the group, and the second for this coming Wednesday's discussion.

Jackson was doing homework this afternoon, and I thought about calling him and asking if he wanted to study in the parsonage again, but with Lilly feeling better and being home, it seemed best to let him and Gary study at home, in the house with her. After lunch I settled down to read Myths To Live By .

This was quite a contrast to the first Campbell book I'd read, which was more like a case study of mythological heroes in all major religions and belief systems across the world. These were lectures, and so while topical, they were approachable, and somehow managed to be both sweeping in scope and specific at the same time.

The first lecture, The Impact of Science on Myth , and was striking in the conflict he sets up between science and myth, while the most important take away from the chapter had for me less to do with science. Essentially, he uses science as a red herring, discussing that the continual march forward of science plumbing the depths of every observable fact and facet should be undoing the necessity of mythologies. That would leave an understanding based on observable facts rather than on mythological constructs. He humorously made the point at the outset of the lecture, where you could hear the audience chuckling to itself as he tells the story of a mother with two children sitting down next to him at a lunch counter, and the conversation he overheard.

The oldest child is telling his mother about a friend's science paper that was corrected by the teacher, telling him that "Adam and Eve were mankind's first parents." He tries to make the point to his mother that it was a science paper and is surprised to hear his mother agree with the teacher! His quip is, "but they've found the bones!" Which fact, of course, does not phase either the teacher or the mother! The mother then dismisses the whole matter with a throw away remark that "those are only theories!"

The lecture lays out a discussion of how science, does in fact undo the necessity of mythologies to explain and make sense of human existence and its perpetual interaction with nature, death and other cultures. Each culture develops its own theories about God from observing the world and from its experiences. Mythologies provide a culture-specific and geography-specific answer to the three existential mythological questions and explains how to live. He discusses the rites and ceremonies that evolve out of each culture's philosophy and how each culture subsequently designs their rites to please the gods based on those primitive conclusions. Finally, Campbell discusses how these mythologies are necessary to the human mind to teach children and preserve the social order into which they are born.

The major point he is making in the lecture has to do with the collision of science and mythology, and that most believing people worldwide are locked into a 5,000-year-old Bronze Age belief system. His pivotal statement on this is "…it has always been on myths that the mortal orders of societies have been founded, the myths canonized as religion, and since the impact of science on myths results—apparently inevitably—in moral disequilibrium, we must now ask whether it is not possible to arrive scientifically at such an understanding of the side-supporting nature of myths that, in criticizing their archaic features, we do not misrepresent and disqualify their necessity—throwing out, so to say, the baby…with the bath."

His real concern is about how hard it is to move people to new belief systems that correlate and are in synch with the world they live in. Science for the last five hundred years has made clear we live in a very different universe than that understood in ancient times or even in the Medieval period, but our mythologies are still essentially the same.

For me, though, given the struggle I was in personally, the passage that really bit was: "And whereas it must, of course, be the task of the historian, archaeologist, and prehistorian to show that the myths are as facts untrue—that there is no one Chosen People of God in this multiracial world, no Found Truth to which we all must bow, no One and Only True Church—it will be more and more, and with increasing urgency, the task of the psychologists and comparative mythologist not only to identify, analyze and interpret the symbolized 'facts of the mind,' but also to evolve techniques for retaining these in health and, as the old traditions of the fading past dissolve, assist mankind to a knowledge and appreciation of our own inward, as well as the world's outward, orders of fact."

That was a mouth full, perhaps the longest single sentence I'd read in a long time. But what he's trying to convey is that while the content of our myths can't be taken as objective facts and need to be updated to the world we observe and live in, in spite of that, mythology is a fundamental aspect of being human, and it can't be dismissed. People do and need to believe in something. The challenge is having that belief properly connected to reality.

Which, of course, means that humanity needs to be in a continuous cycle of updating their mythologies if they are going to be relevant and connected to reality, rather than being insular and exclusive in order to protect the tribe or nation.

Jackson came over after dinner and after he'd filled me in on finishing Frankenstein and his other classes, I filled him in on Campbells' first lecture. He listened closely, and I knew he was interested because we'd discussed it generally relative to Star Wars . His final comment was that Campbell may be right, but his position based on his experience, was that "we could do without mythologies, thank you very much!"

I pulled him into a hug. "I understand. You've been burned by religion more than me, so walking away is understandable. I signed up and joined, clearly unaware of my motivations, but signed up, nonetheless. The mindblower here is when you start working on the subject of updating your mythologies, you're basically blowing up the old models and replacing them with new. I'm not smart enough to know what the new ones should be, but once you start the process where do you stop. It's almost like you have to strip it down to almost nothing and then rebuild. Which is an interesting process, but also says almost all the particulars that make up our religion are not true and have to go!"

"You're right, Rev. That's pretty heavy. What are you going to do?"

I was quiet and smiled but didn't have a canned answer. "I guess there's no choice but to keep working on it, not be afraid to deconstruct, be willing to reconstruct, and hope the right new answers come along."

"And if they don't?" He hugged me back as he asked.

"It may just be the $64,000 question for humankind. It's a problem Campbell is very worried about. Who knows, maybe we end up getting further and further apart as religions and tribes and who knows where it goes from there. We've already got enough religious wars going on. The really big question is do we need mythologies at all! That's the big one I've got to work on."

We were quiet for a bit, Jackson sensitive to the scope of what I was dealing with. I asked him which of his two gift albums he wanted to listen to, Handel or opera?

He smiled, "I'm familiar with some of the Messiah music, so let's do something new and radical and listen to opera. I found what Ellen said both challenging and exciting. You know, listen to the voice and the performance and think of it maybe as a doorway to other things."

"Okay, lover boy, Pavarotti it is." I looked over the album cover as I put on the album and said, "What I can tell is that this from his second period, not the young Pavarotti when he became a well-known young tenor in Europe, but this is early in his current period, when he's world famous as arguably the best tenor, or at least one of the best among a very few." I handed him the album cover and cued up the record.

What was immediately apparent was that while neither of us were opera fans, nor did we recognize the arias, as such, for many we recognized the melody of the song. The album opened with Donizetti's Una Furtiva Lagrima , and you could tell from the feel that true enough, a song about "a furtive tear" was not going to be upbeat.

Jackson sat quietly, then commented on the controlled pacing, and how the high notes seemed to beautifully rise out of the darkness and then settle back. He was also taken with E Lucevan Le Stella , and commented on the smooth and wonderful way he sang up to the high note at the end of the phrase "while feverishly I stripped the beautiful form of its veils!"

Then he asked, "Are all these love songs such downers in opera?"

I laughed. "I don't know a lot of opera, but it seems that most of the stories are tragedies of love one way or another, you know, like Romeo and Juliet? I guess we have to remember that opera was the drama before movies."

When we finally got to Nessum Dorma from Turandot , Jackson had formed likes and dislikes, which I thought was fine. He was responding with first impressions. I stood up and lifted the needle.

"Are you ready for this last one? It's the big one Ellen was telling you about, with high C's. It says here that Calaf, the role Pavarotti is singing, falls in love with the Princess Turandot, but he has to answer her three riddles, or he'll be beheaded! Sounds fun, huh? Anyway, the song is about that and his confidence in victory, that he'll win the princess."

"Cue it up, Rev." I did and hopped back to snuggle down next to him.

"Wow, strong singing from the outset, and it's got a nice lyric quality to it too." He paused, listening intently. "Oh, listen to that pause…there's the chorus, it's going to build to the climax now."

He went quiet as Pavarotti's voice built to the climax, then physically responded when the high notes were blasted out. "Wow! That is amazing, that high and so powerful, no tremor, no break, and the sustain on the last one is unbelievable. He just held it and held it."

He was grinning wildly.

"It looks like Nessum Dorma is a keeper, then, right?"

"Will you play it again for us?"

I did and we sat quietly, just absorbing the sound, the voice, the emotion. When the track ended this time, Jackson looked up at me and said, "I thought I was going to cry. It's like Calaf is in a real tough place but he's sure he's going to make it, he'll win, right? Sounds like us, kind of."

"I guess that's a legit way to look at it. We've got some riddles to solve, but we will prevail. We will win. I'm confident about that. So, what are you going to tell Susan and Ellen about the album and that aria?"

"Oh wow! I've got to do some thinking. I mean I don't just want to babble on about how great it is and all those High C's and stuff. I bet it will blow Will's mind too."

Watch the YouTube video of Luciano Pavarotti sing Nessum Dorma in 1976


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