Always and Forever

by David Lee

Chapter 8


Jonathon Jacobs let out an extended sigh and the two boys looked at each other apprehensively. Seeing the worry in their eyes, he knew he had to act fast to defuse the situation. He moved closer and took Alan's other hand and pulled the boys up. Now they were standing, joined in a circle.

Smiles burst through the tears that streamed down three faces.

"I had a premonition that this trip was about something like this. Your mother and I talked about the possibility of your being gay last year when Garret started his marathon of dating. We reasoned that you could just be a late starter, but now I know that was wishful thinking."


"No, let me finish. I cannot wish for you to be what you are not, and I don't hate you. I only hate to have you guys facing the prejudice and bigotry that you're going to find in our world at times. Son, I love you more than anything. I have come to care for you too, Alan. And I couldn't help but notice the looks you give each other. I don't mean that you're obvious, but there are subtle looks like spouses use to communicate with each other after they've been married for a while, and you guys have them. That tells me you're more than buddies."

"Oh, Dad!" was all Brad could get out as he dropped hands and hugged his father fiercely.

Jon responded in kind and then reached out to Alan who hugged him just as tightly.

"Mr. Jacobs, thank you."

"Hey, I think my son's boyfriend should call me by a less formal name. Please call me Jon, or Dad, or Pa, or whatever."

"I think I'll call you 'Pa' if that's okay. I want to save 'Dad' for my own father whom I'm going to get to know soon."

"Let's leave the stuff here and go show Alan your secret place. I'll bet you two might like to spend a weekend hibernating in that cave."

Of course, the boys both blushed and grinned.

They covered the short distance to the cave in a few minutes. Brad held Alan's hand as he led the way. Jon brought up the rear. When they arrived, he put an arm on each guy's shoulder and squeezed. This brought on another round of hard swallowing to keep emotions in check.

The cave was smaller than Brad had remembered it. But then his world was now a lot bigger.

It was a joyful reunion as Liz opened the door for Fr. Jerry and Dennis. Jerry literally picked her up off her feet as he embraced her in one of his famous bear hugs. Though Liz was above average height, Jerry still towered over her.

When he set her down and introduced his boyfriend, Liz took Dennis into a more formal embrace, but none-the-less a hug. She wanted to show him that he was welcome in her home and in her life. Dennis didn't miss the significance of the gesture.

Later in the afternoon, while Liz and Jerry were going over the order of service, Dennis was in the sanctuary rehearsing his solo with June Barlow, the organist. When they had finished, June applauded.

"You are wonderful! What a way to begin the summer season. If we could get you back again, we could fill the pews every Sunday."

In the study, Jerry and Liz couldn't hear her comment, but shared the sentiment.

Travis Naughton picked up the phone on the first ring. He hadn't been in town long enough to live in fear of telemarketers interrupting his dinner. Besides, he was just starting to cook, and Don and Tom wouldn't be there for another half hour or so.

"Yes, Susan," he was saying. "I think Monday would be perfect. Oh, you don't have to do that. I can come after dinner. Okay, if you're sure. What may I bring?"

Don and Tom arrived shortly. Tom still wore a slightly sullen expression which had become his habit over the years, but he didn't act like a punk and Travis was grateful for that. He even helped set the table and clean up after the meal. Could this kid have harbored the malice he had confessed to Don as well as to the psychiatrist? he wondered.

Rather than disturbing Tom's fragile emotional state by moving in with Don and him, Travis had decided to keep his own place for another three months. The lease ran that long and would have required him to sublet or lose most of the rent he would have saved by leaving early. Besides, there was a pool, spa, and other facilities that Tom could enjoy when he came over. It would be something Travis could offer that would help Tom accept him.

The fact was that Tom thought Travis was a great guy and he was happy for Don. While he didn't understand the idea of guys getting it on with other guys, he could tell these two cared for each other even though they were very careful not to express their affection in his presence. Tom hoped that they would be able to relax around him when Travis moved in with Don before school started.

Both Don and Travis were concerned about how Tom would respond to their being a couple. They knew that teenagers worry a lot about their own sexual reputations. They hoped that Tom's living with them wouldn't put a damper on his love life - whatever form it took.

Currently, Tom's love life was with his left hand. He used his right when he wanted to feel like he was getting something new. His nightly fantasies involved Brittany Spears, and sometimes Amy from homeroom, as he pumped away at his ample equipment.

Oh, how he longed for a real date. Not just to hop into the sack with a girl, but actually to hold someone close. Most of all he craved the loving touch of another human being. He even wished that Don would put an arm around him. Ever since that day at school when he had reacted badly to Don's hand on his shoulder, Don hadn't invaded his personal space. It wasn't that he withheld affection; it was just that he never touched him.

Tom wished he could go back and replay that scene with a different ending.

After their dinner had settled, Don, Travis, and Tom changed into swim trunks and enjoyed a couple of hours in the pool. The late spring day had been unusually hot, so the cool water felt great. Tom took every chance possible to roughhouse in the water. At least that way there was the possibility of having some of the bodily contact he craved. And the physical activity relieved some of the tension that still remained in him.

When it came time to leave, Don said that he planned to go to church in the morning and wondered if Travis would like to join him. They agreed to meet at Don's house at 9:00. Tom said that he planned to sleep in and Don felt it best not to push the issue.

At the door Don took Travis's hand and thanked him for a great evening. Tom spoke up to say that he really enjoyed it too. Then with a smirk on his face, he said,

"Oh, come on guys. I'm a big boy who knows the score. Kiss each other goodnight like you mean it!"

They did.

Sunday's service at First Pres was heavily attended by other people from the community as well as members. Word had spread over town about Dennis's singing ability. Many had come to hear him, and some people had actually come to hear Pastor Liz.

Her sermon was an overview of what would be her theme for the next two months. She emphasized how Jesus, though a Jew, had been kind to Gentiles and to people like lepers and prostitutes who lived on the fringes of society. She applied his outlook to people who were considered outcasts in the modern world. She finished by reminding the congregation of the first panel discussion about gays and the scripture that would be held that afternoon. A number of people decided to skip their usual afternoon naps and return.

When 2:00 o'clock arrived, the church was possibly fuller than it had been in the morning. The pastor of the local "Bible" church, John Parker and his supporters had come, as well as an equal number of Pastor Liz's flock.

Three other clergy members were there, including Fr. Jerry in his clerical collar. Then there were curiosity seekers from a variety of other denominations. Among this crowd were the Jacobs family, the Forbes, the Kearns, Susan Jenkins and Alan, Travis Naughton, Don Hanson, and surprisingly, Tom.

As the host pastor, Liz opened with prayer and the discussion began. No one was surprised to see how the clergy split on the issue of gays. The Reverend Parker was the most vocal in his opinion that gays were condemned to Hell. Fr. Jerry was the most liberal in his interpretation of the scripture. After Parker had brought up the Leviticus passage, Jerry asked for a show of hands from the audience.

"Raise your hand if you enjoy good food." Almost everyone responded with hands in the air.

"Raise your hand if you like to eat shell fish or pork." Again the, response was almost unanimous.

"You are all guilty of breaking the Old Testament law concerning purity. If you want to use it to condemn gays, you have to condemn pork-eaters and those who eat shrimp or crab as well."

"That's different," responded John Parker loudly. "That changed with Christ. Besides, Paul condemns homosexuals in the New Testament."

"How did parts of the law change with Christ, and not all of the law? And, if you read the writings of Paul in the language of the time, his condemnation was of those men who took young boys for their sexual pleasure. Nothing is said about consenting peers."

John Parker, who had not been schooled in Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic was furious. He had no reasonable come-back for this line of thought. So, he did what came naturally to him. He loudly condemned the discussion as the work of the devil and stormed out. Most of his congregation followed, but a number of his flock stayed to hear what else would be said.

The more progressive clergy discussed ways to reach out to people who felt alienated from the church. Pastor Liz commented that she felt sorry she, as yet, wasn't allowed by her denomination to perform commitment ceremonies. Father Jerry said that he could, and would, perform such rites and that he and Dennis planned to commit to each other within the year. Some people left after that comment, but a number applauded and cheered.

Liz tried her best to sum up the various positions and to bring the discussion to an end. She then asked Fr. Jerry to pronounce a benediction to close the meeting. She was highly gratified to see many people staying and continuing to talk among themselves or to panel members. If nothing else was accomplished, at least the topic was on the table. And a greater number than she had hoped for seemed to be at least open-minded. All in all, it had been a success.

Among those who stayed were Don and Travis and, by default, Tom who had ridden with them. While the two men asked Fr. Jerry about commitment ceremonies, Tom stood at the sidelines listening. He heard them talking as if the union of two guys were an everyday thing and not something weird. He shook his head slightly. There had been too many changes in his young life too quickly. He was still adjusting to the idea of not being angry with the whole world.

Tom was so deep in thought that the gentle touch of a hand on his arm that made him jump.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you," said Amy Kearns.

"'S okay. I was just thinking," Tom replied.

The two made small talk about school and about summer. Amy asked Tom if he could come to her house for a cookout on Friday. It was a kind of end of year picnic and she was inviting mainly the kids from her homeroom. Tom was delighted and said he would be there. Being invited to a girl's house was a new experience for him. Of course, he was just one of the homeroom kids, but he was used to being excluded from activities like that. Did she like him? he wondered, Or, was she feeling pity for him? What would he wear? Would anyone talk to him?" A thousand questions and fears filled the mind of this former bully. He wasn't quite sure how to act. Had he made a mistake by accepting too hastily?

Monday found Susan busily preparing a special dinner. She wanted everything to be perfect. Alan had spent part of the day cleaning the house even though it had already been acceptable.

Promptly at 6:00, there was a knock at the front door. Travis was standing there with a bouquet of flowers from Don's garden and looking very nervous. Alan answered the door and led Travis into the living room. He left to find a vase but returned with two small glasses of the red wine that Susan had picked up to go with the spaghetti she was making.

Susan, apron clad, came in from the kitchen with her own glass and proposed a toast.

"Here's to a reunion of friends and family."

All three took a sip from their glasses. Alan was pleased to be treated like an adult in being allowed the alcohol. Travis was happy to able to take the edge off his nerves. Susan was also counting on the Chianti to help relax her.

Travis realized he was standing there with a bouquet of flowers in his other hand. He presented them to Susan.

"Thanks very much. They'll look lovely on the table. Let me put them in water and then I'll serve dinner in a few minutes."

Dinner conversation was polite but strained. It revolved mostly around school, work, and summer plans. Everyone was avoiding the "elephant in the room." No one knew how to get at the questions that needed to be answered.

After dinner, Susan insisted that the guys go into the living room and talk while she cleaned up the table. Travis and Alan complied after making a polite protest.

Travis began, "Alan, I'm going to tell you from the start about my life and you're welcome to interrupt at any time if you have a question. I know that I can't expect you to forgive me for messing up your life, but I hope you'll understand at least. I'm gay and I want you to know how I discovered it.

"When I was probably five years younger than you are now, I went to the lake with my grandparents for two whole weeks. It was a cool place and a lot of fun. My cousin was there as well, and we shared a bedroom in the small cabin. Bob was two years older and was very cute. I instantly had a crush on him. He was more developed than I, and even had hair in his arm pits. I thought he was the sexiest thing alive. The first night, our talk got around to sex, and we ended up showing each other what we had. The second night, he reached over and felt me up and I loved it. By the third night we were becoming lovers. He introduced me to oral sex and I knew that I had found what would interest me for the rest of my life.

"I'm not telling you this to disgust you; I just want you to know how young I was when I knew, and how intense it was for me.

"When puberty hit fully, I could hardly keep my eyes off the other guys in the locker room. But at the same time, I was learning what happened to kids who were suspected of being different. One boy made a mistake of getting hard around the school bully and his life was miserable from then on. He turned out to be quite straight, but he took a lot of crap from guys who thought he might not be.

"I went deeply into the closet. I tried to change my inner being. I began to date a lot. At first, I only flirted with girls, but then I decided that my manhood depended on going all the way with a girl. I was dating your mother at the time. I really cared for her. One night after a lot of heavy petting, I persuaded her to go to bed with me. She was very sweet, and it was nice, but I knew in my heart it wasn't what I wanted.

"Well, you know where this is going. You were conceived; I panicked and left town. Your mother was disowned because she was pregnant and was left on her own to raise you as best she could. By the time I found out, I'd burned my bridges and there was no coming back.

"I drifted. Finally, I got a GED and went to community college and then to the university. That's where I met Don. We were both older than the majority of the students and so we had a lot in common. We fell for each other big time, but my denial of my sexuality eventually caused a rift between us. The pot I smoked to dull my senses drove us apart. I dropped out in more ways than one. After Don and I parted, I cleaned up my act, finished college, and got my teaching certificate. And that brings me up to the present. When I came to this town and began to sub, I had no idea that I would find both my lover and my son.

"Alan, I am very sorry I haven't been around to help your mother and you. I'll try to contribute financially what I can, but I can't make up for the years you grew up without a father. In a way, you were better off without a faggot in your life."

"Uh Dad. Uh, is it alright if I call you 'Dad?'"

"It is more than I had ever hoped for."

"Dad, please don't ever use the word, 'faggot' in talking about a gay person! I resent that word. I'm gay, too."

"Oh Son, I'm really sorry. I never intended to pass that trait on to anyone. Oh my God!"

"Hey, it's okay. It is what I am, and I'm not ashamed or embarrassed. I have a boyfriend and I want you to meet him. We're not out to the rest of the world because we don't want the torment we might get in high school. But when we go away to college, we'll begin living together and we plan to stay together for the rest of our lives.

"I don't hate you. I used to cry because the other kids had dads and I didn't, but I never hated you. I just wondered what you'd be like. I imagined sitting on your lap and having you read to me. I missed you when the scouts went canoeing and camping. Yes, I hurt sometimes, but I didn't hate."

Travis had tears freely running down his face as his son talked. He got up from his chair, took Alan by the hand, and pulled him into his arms. Father and son, now united, stood in the little living room on Washington Street crying their eyes out in joy. They would not lose each other again.

Susan witnessed the scene through her own tears as she entered the room. It had gone better than she had imagined. She had prayed for this to happen. Had she actually prayed? Yes, she had. She silently slipped back into the other room to give them their privacy.

Sounds of laughter emanating from the living room let Susan know it was safe to interrupt them with dessert.

"How are my two men getting along?" It was a rhetorical question that needed no answer.

"Mom, may Brad come over for dessert since he's staying here tonight?"

"Sure, Honey, if that's what you want. Will you all be okay with that?"

"Yeah, he's waiting for my call and Dad's eager to meet him."

Susan could barely contain her emotions.

It wasn't ten minutes before a smiling Brad burst through the front door.

"Sorry, I should have knocked."

Susan laughed. "This house is always open to you, my other Son. I'll get a key made for you, so you know for sure that you're entirely welcome."

"Dad, this is my boyfriend, Brad. Brad, this is my Dad, Travis Naughton."

The two shook hands warmly. Alan was delighted. His father and his lover seemed to like each other. Alan was walking on air. Life was very good.

Alan and Brad had prearranged with Fran for Brad to stay over. She had been hesitant at first, pointing out that they needed to be at the parks department by 8:00 a.m. to begin their summer jobs. After they had assured her that they were responsible, and that Susan would make sure they were up and fed in time, she had given in, knowing it would be futile to protest.

After hugs and good-byes with Travis, the boys headed for Alan's room and closed the door. They were relaxed and happy. Slowly Brad began to remove Alan's clothing. He laid each piece on a chair at the foot of the bed. When he got to the underwear, he stopped and pushed him gently back on the double bed. Next, he began to do a kind of strip show removing his own clothes a piece at a time, dropping them as he shed them. Finally, with his back to his boyfriend, he removed his skimpy briefs and flung them toward Alan. They landed on his face. He grabbed them and inhaled Brad's scent deeply. While he was enjoying the essence of Brad, Brad was removing Alan's final piece of clothing. Now both boys were naked and hard.

Brad took the lead while Alan lay back and enjoyed the thrill that was coursing through his adolescent body. The boys always seemed to sense each other's moods and knew instinctively who needed to be the instigator in a given situation.

Finally, Alan moved himself around in the boys' favorite position. He found that Brad didn't need much warming up. He was close to his climax from licking Alan's body all over. It wasn't long before the heightened sounds of moaning signaled impending release. Alan shot first, unloading a big amount of juice into Brad's warm, moist mouth. That put Brad over the edge. He provided Alan with a good-sized offering as well.

Their sexual needs satiated for the moment, the boys spooned together with Brad against Alan's back holding him in his strong arms. Sleep came quickly.

For Courtney Forbes, sleep didn't come quickly. She got up about 1:00 a.m. to take one of the sleeping pills Dr. Newton had prescribed. She both craved and feared sleep. If she were lucky, sleep would take away the anguish she experienced almost every waking moment. If she were not, she would awake from horrible dreams sobbing and in a cold sweat. What could she do? She looked at the remaining pills. Would there be enough to turn off the pain permanently?

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