Oliver of the Adirondacks

by Dashiell Walraven

Chapter 20

The temperature definitely warmed up by the time March came to a close. Even though the ground was still covered in several feet of snow, there was a definite turn in the flavor of the air around the lake. Throughout the winter, the snow maintained a crisp lightness due to the cold temperatures. Now, it began to take on a leaden quality as the thermometer started its slow creep upwards. It had not officially turned to spring yet, but I felt a certain levity in my mood that I couldn't quite explain.

As much as I loved the winter, I was also starting to look forward to those months when nature's warm winds brought life and greenery back to the lake. I think it was mainly because living becomes so cloistered during the Adirondack winter. Travel is restricted to tunnel-like roads, unless you're an avid snow-mobiler, which I was not. I loved skiing, but the public slope with its ancient rope-tow, had been closed for the past two winters now, and we couldn't much afford to go off to one of the ski resorts like Whiteface or Snow Ridge. After hunkering down for five or six months, it was going to feel good to get out into the open again, with a lot fewer clothes on.

The inevitability of spring did much to lighten my mood (not that it was terrible to begin with), but there was good news in the offing as well. The best news of all was that Garrett was coming home from his extensive hospital stay. I had not been able to talk to him; the call to Albany was long-distance, and I wasn't quite sure what I'd say to him. My father tried to allay my worries by giving me updates, and assuring me that it was best that Garrett be left to concentrate on getting better. If Garrett coming home wasn't good enough, my mother had something else to tell me.

"Garrett's father called me," explained my mother, "about renting that cabin along by the road." I knew the one she meant, it was the only cabin in our compound that faced the public road, the rest being accessible only from our private roads, through the gated entrance. It had once been used by the groundskeeper and his family, who worked for the previous owners of the camp.

"Why do they want to rent one of our cabins? Something wrong with their house?" I asked, looking at her curiously.

"No honey," she said sweetly, "but in their home, Garrett's room is on the third floor." I nodded, suddenly understanding. Garrett's recovery had gone remarkably well by all accounts, but he still would have significant trouble climbing those stairs. I'd been to his room several times, and the last steps were actually more like a ladder, since Garrett's room was converted attic space. The cabin they were interested in, sat very low to the ground, with only a few steps to get onto the porch; all the rooms were on one floor. "Anyways," Mom continued, "your father and I talked it over, and we decided that since we have a guest room on the first floor of our home, with it's own bathroom, we could offer him to stay with us during the rest of his convalescence."

"Seriously?" I exclaimed, "Garrett's going to live here with us?"

"For a little while at least Oliver," she smiled, "not forever, but probably at least through the summer." She watched me bouncing around the room, hooting and hollering, but then offered me one of those Mom-smiles that tempered my enthusiasm. "Oliver sweetheart," she said softly, "remember, you can't go crazy with Garrett, he's still got a long way to go before we can say he's fully recovered." I nodded, and she put her hand on my shoulder. "You can help though," she reassured me, "He's going to need to work hard on building up his muscles and strength."

"I could do that," I nodded enthusiastically, "I could take him swimming and stuff, to help his legs, and... and maybe take him out on the sailboat, or..."

"Shhhhh," Mom chuckled, "why don't we take things as they come? Garrett will be here tonight, what say you and me get his room set up?"

Mom and I spent the remainder of the morning putting new ticking on the mattress in the guest room, making the bed, sweeping and mopping the floors, while Dad brought in a sled full of split wood for the pot bellied stove. The room, like the rest of the house, was heated, but there was nothing like a wood fire to make a room glow and feel inviting and warm. Mom donned some long rubberized gloves and attacked the bathroom with some piney disinfectant and a sponge. By the time she was through, the old fixtures sparkled like diamonds, and the porcelain of the ancient claw-foot tub shone like fine china. The whole room smelled like pine trees and soap.

We broke for lunch and I merrily chewed my way through three grilled cheese sandwiches, probably my favorite food in the whole world, chasing them down with a tall glass of cold milk. Dad joined us, and marked my cheery mood with a hearty, playful back-slap and wide grin for himself.

"Happy about Garrett coming to stay for a little while?" he asked, as if he didn't know.

"Yes sir!" I exclaimed, returning immediately to my sandwich.

"I missed having him around," my father smiled, "he was here so often helping out, we practically adopted the lad as it was!" We all laughed at that, because it was true. Garrett was a hard worker, and Dad really appreciated having another pair of strong shoulders around as he tried to keep the camp in working order. Garrett appreciated the extra money, of course, but I dared to hope he didn't hate having me hanging around either. Garrett was the closest thing to having an older brother I ever had. The prospect of him coming home, to our home, made me realize just how acutely I'd missed him.

Although all was prepared, I was on tenterhooks since finishing lunch. I busied myself by trying to personalize the room for Garrett and make him feel at home. Even so, by the time the old Ford truck came trundling up the drive, my anticipation was at its peak.

"Mom! Dad!" I shrieked, "They're here!" I raced for the door and threw it open, taking the porch steps in one stride and nearly losing my balance on the slippery stones. The truck creaked to a halt at the head end of the drive, right next to our cabin. Garrett's father pushed open the driver's side door and stepped out. The door's hinges protested loudly as he swung it closed and walked around to the other side. I ran over to the truck in time to greet Garrett, but came skidding to a halt. I'm sure the smile I was wearing must have looked like it dropped right off my face.

Garrett steadied himself on the door as his father handed him two aluminum crutches. Not like, normal crutches, but those kinds with the metal clip on the top. Cripple crutches, as we called them in school. These were not the temporary, wooden things jocks used when they sprained an ankle or busted a foot, these were aluminum, made for the long haul. I swallowed hard and my heart felt like it dropped into my stomach. As for Garrett, the very sight of him made tears leap to my eyes and my breath catch in my throat. I felt my Mom and Dad pull up behind me, somebody put a comforting hand on my shoulder.

"Sheez, Oliver," Garrett grunted, his voice weak and distant, "I don't look that bad, do I?" All I could do was stare at him. It was Garrett's voice for sure, but whoever this was, only bore a passing resemblance to the actual Garrett I knew. The guy getting out of the truck, this gaunt wastrel of a thing, looked all stooped over and pale as the snow itself. Not at all like Garrett, but like some of the pictures I'd seen of emaciated concentration camp survivors. I could hardly believe that this was, in fact, the strong, heroic Garrett I'd last seen just before Christmas. He managed a weak smile and suddenly sagged against his father, bracing himself with his crutches. My dad raced around and supported him under one shoulder, while his father took up the other.

"Come on," my father said a gentle, yet commanding tone, "let's get you inside and squared away." Garrett winced and then nodded his head in agreement. Together the two men turned Garrett around and helped him to stagger into the house. By the time they reached the living room, Garrett started to collapse. My father fell in behind Garrett, wrapping his arms around his chest under his arms, and grabbed both wrists. "Get his feet Bobby, we'll just carry him in," my dad instructed, "good Jesus, he's light as a feather now, isn't he?" Garrett's father nodded in agreement as he slung Garrett's feet gently under his arm, and helped dad carry Garrett into the bedroom.

"Oh God Mom," I squeaked. I looked up to her face and saw her eyes glistening; hot tears started streaming down my face. She looked down at me, her face a picture of firm resolve.

"Alright Oliver," she said sternly, blinking to clear her own eyes, "now is not the time to fall apart. Garrett will be fine, he's had a long trip all the way from Albany, and he still is very weak. It's time for you to be strong for him, because he can't right now. Do you remember all the times he was there for you?" I nodded dumbly, wiping my face with my sleeves. "Good, now it's your turn to be there for him. You go on in and help where you can, and find out if he's up to some chicken and rice soup." She capped off this last bit with a huge smile as she chucked me under my chin. I couldn't help but feel a little better, so I turned around and went into the guest room.

My dad was stoking a little fire in the pot-belly, while Garrett's father started undressing him. While he pulled Garrett's shirt over his head, I started to work unlacing Garrett's shoes, and pulling them off. Garrett was still sagging against his father, who gently leaned him back, unbuckled his belt and unbuttoned the fly of his blue jeans. I lifted Garrett's legs while his father gently worked the waistband down past his butt. When it came free, the pants slithered the rest of the way off and I was astounded to see the state of Garrett's wasted legs. The once strong and powerful thighs, now stuck out like pencils from his boxers, making the shorts look absurdly large on him. Below the knee on both legs, numerous pink and puckered scars stitched their way up and down. Several raw, dark and moist looking holes dotted the sides of his legs.

"Those are from the external fixator rods," Garrett's father explained, I guess he saw me staring at the holes, "the doctors removed them a few days ago. We have to keep them clean until they heal up." I stood there, supporting his legs, until we were able to get him shifted around to lay completely on the bed. Garrett took several deep, gasping breaths, pursing his lips to exhale, as we moved him, he looked like he was in pain.

Finally, we got him propped up in the bed, with several pillows behind him, his pallor barely contrasting with the white linens. At last he sighed and looked more comfortable. I stood next him, wanting to be close, but afraid. He managed a wan grin and waved me in for a hug. Gingerly, I leaned over as he wrapped his spidery arms around me for a moment. I returned the gesture as best I could but could only manage to put my hands on his bony shoulders; he looked so fragile, I was scared he'd break.

"How you doin' kiddo?" he whispered huskily in my ear. His hand, looking impossibly large on his stick-figure arm, brushed over my head. "What did you do to your hair Oliver?" I shrugged as I stood up. "Looks good on you, sport."

My mom came into the room with the efficiency and crisp demeanor of a nurse, and shooed us away. Taking out a thermometer, she shook down the mercury and stuck it in Garrett's mouth and then touched his forehead with the palm of her hand. Garrett's eyes fluttered a little at the cool sensation of her hand. Mom offered Garrett a bowl of soup, which he accepted. When he asked for a sandwich too, she lit up in smiles.

"That's what I want to hear my boy!" She burst out cheerfully, "We'll have you up and about in no time." After he ate, Garrett drifted off to sleep, so we let him be until after supper time. Dad was kind enough to take over the dish detail that night, and asked me to check on Garrett and see if the stove needed stoking. As I tip-toed into his room, I saw Garrett was still resting, so I went to put some more wood into the pot-belly. The little iron door squeaked as I closed it, and I looked back at Garrett and found he'd raised his head to look at me in the gathering dark of the room.

"Sorry," I said quietly.

"S'okay," he smiled, and patted the mattress beside himself, "Come on over, I want to get a better look at you, I think you must have grown three or four inches even since I last saw you." Gently, I climbed up and sat cross legged next to him. The warmth of the little stove at my back, and being in Garrett's presence once more, made me feel whole in a way that never knew I hadn't been. He asked about school, and I told him about everything except what had been going on with Peter Gilbert. I knew that would make him mad, so I figured now wasn't a good time to talk about it. Dad came in the check on us, and after a few minutes of idle chatter, he wrinkled his nose.

"Phew Garrett " he said in mock disgust, "how long has it been since you bathed?" I grinned, thankful that Dad had broached the subject because the truth was, Garrett smelled a little gamey.

"If you mean a real shower," Garrett shrugged, "it's been ages. All they did for me at the hospital was mostly sponge baths and those nurses can be mighty rough, let me tell you."

"Alright then," Dad said, "do you feel up to getting into the tub if I draw you a nice, hot bath?" Garrett smiled widely and nodded. While Dad went into bathroom to fill the tub, I pulled back the bed covers and helped Garrett swing his feet over the edge and sit up. I fetched his crutches, which he expertly slipped his arms into and then stood. Supper and a few hours rest seemed to do wonders for him, he was able to stand almost completely upright, and his color seemed much better.

"Can I help?" I asked. Garrett's wonderful, lopsided grin made a welcomed reappearance.

"Sure you can, Oliver," he said softly, "Just pick up that throw rug for me by the bathroom door so I don't slip on it." I jump over the to rug and kicked it aside for him, while he walked with a slow, peculiar, swinging stride, aided by his crutches, from the bed to the bathroom. I followed him inside, where Dad was just finishing up and testing the water temperature with his fingers. Dad helped steady Garrett, who handed his crutches to me. I stood the crutches against the wall, while Dad gently lowered Garrett's boxers to the floor. After Garrett made several attempts to lift one of his legs over the edge of the tub, Dad picked him up from behind again and had me lift his legs. Together we lowered Garrett into the warm water.

Dad took a fresh bar of Lifebuoy soap, lathered up a terry wash cloth, and started to wash Garrett's body. He was so gentle, it was like watching him handle a baby. While he worked, he made conversation by asking about Garrett's ordeal. Even though he looked a shadow of his former self, the old Garrett emerged in the animated way he described waking up at the Albany Medical Center, all the strange noises, and how disoriented he was. I learned that he had been at AMC for a full two weeks before he actually "woke up", having been comatose, or at least drifting in and out of consciousness, during that time. He had no recollection of the accident at all, he didn't even remember leaving on the snowmobile. I kept prodding him to reveal to me what it was like to be unconscious for so long; he described it like he was waking up through a fog. Even after he'd regained consciousness, he told me how even simple tasks confused and frustrated him.

"Alright my boy," my Dad said to Garrett, "time for me to get a little personal with you, will you be okay with that?" Garrett nodded, leaning back against the tub and spreading his knees apart. I watched silently, as my father soaped up the washcloth, and then gently dipped down under Garrett's scrotum and gently scrubbed. Garrett laid his head back and closed his eyes, while Dad concentrated on getting his butt clean. Dad moved the cloth up, over and around the testicles, as well as through Garrett's bush. I noticed Garrett's jaw muscles flexing as he clenched his teeth. His breathing had gone strangely shallow, with an almost grunting quality. I wondered what was going on, until I looked down and saw Garrett was hard as a rock while Dad made quick work of cleaning his penis.]

"Sorry," Garrett gasped.

"Don't be, son," Dad said quietly, "I can scarcely imagine what it's been like for you."

Dad wrung out the cloth and pulled the drain plug. When most of the water drained out, we picked Garrett up the same way we put him in. This time, Dad just had us carry Garrett right to the bed, where we toweled him off before putting him into it. Once again, I sat cross-legged on the bed, and interrogated Garrett more about his experience.

Garrett patiently endured my questions, and we found ourselves talking well into the evening. I excused myself to go change into my pajamas and take a leak, and by the time I got back, eager to continue talking, I found him laying against his pillows, eyes closed, and sound asleep. Turning off the light, I walked over, lifted the blankets and gently climbed in to snuggle up next to him. As I lay there, with my head on his chest, listening to his deep breathing, I smiled to myself. Slowly, I ran the flat of my palm against his warm belly, rubbing slow, concentric circles around his navel. He stirred under my touch, murmuring and moving as if to stretch out.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my Dad pop his head in the door, and so closed my eyes to pretend to be asleep myself. I heard the door latch click as he quietly closed the door. I continued to caress Garrett, eventually widening my circles to brush my fingertips across the soft, curly pubic hair. Slowly, I worked my fingers down far enough to encircle his penis in my hand. I held it with great satisfaction, pleased his dick hadn't wasted away like the rest of him. Garrett breathed out through his nose a little as his cock sprang to life in my grasp. I marveled at how fast it erected in my hand.

"Thank you," Garrett whispered urgently, his member throbbing while I gently stroked him. "You don't know how much I missed doing stuff with you Oliver." I nodded my silent understanding. Garrett's decimated muscles responded by becoming taut; I felt own erection rising as I felt them ripple and strain under my touch. I wanted desperately to climb on top of him, straddle his hips and let him enter me, but I remembered his legs. Instead, I took him into my mouth, and slowly sucked him in as far as I could.

"Uuuungh!" he growled low in his chest, gritting his teeth, "oh geez, ooooooh." His dick grew impossibly rigid as I swabbed it around the inside of my mouth, applying alternately light and strong suction. Garrett's hips bucked a little under me as I cupped his plump ball sac and pulled at the skin. As I ministered to Garrett, I found myself grinding my own stiff dick against the soft blanket. As he rolled and swayed under me, I moaned deeply in my throat. I felt his fingers brush through my short hair, a gesture of gratitude; his breath getting short and gasping. Garrett arched his back, swelling within me and thrusting his penis into my throat. He froze rigidly mid stroke, I moaned softly as my own orgasm, from rubbing my cock on the blanket, raced through me. Almost simultaneously, Garrett gave one final buck as he fired his load down my throat. I choked a little under the onslaught, a huge amount of his semen coursed into my mouth; I swallowed frantically, not wanting to miss any of it.

Panting, we broke apart. I felt the sticky mess inside the front of my PJ's, and decided to peel them off before snuggling up to Garrett once more. The next thing I knew, I awoke to the sun streaming through the window, and the room was quite cold. Pulling on my pajamas once more, I stoked more wood in the stove, which rekindled almost immediately. I turned to find Mom walking in with a tray of omelets, bacon, toast and orange juice for the both of us. For at least that moment, everything seemed right with the world.

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