Scooter and Malachi

by Nicholas Hall

Chapter 10

"…. his banner over me was love."

(Song of Solomon)

Come dance with me my love and let us rejoice in each other

Those same hands comforted me, fed me, changed my diapers, listened to my chest or palpated my throat when I was ill, gently, carefully, gave me my immunizations, and were hands I treasured most, after Mom, Dad, and now, Malachi's. There was no reluctance on my part or James' to release our hold on Malachi. Grandmother Chen released Malachi's grip on the handle bars of the ATV, moved them to his side, and gently pulled his head to her.

"Hush, my sweet boy," she softly cooed, comforting him. "Let Grandma Chen help ease your burden and lessen your pain."

It was the tone and loving sound she often used when one of us, her grandchildren, were hurt or troubled and sought her comfort. Malachi raised his head slightly, focused on the warmth and concern in her face for him, and heeded her words, briefly resting his head on her shoulder before beginning sob loud, heart-felt, soul-cleansing cries of internal pain and mortification!

"I'm so afraid and ashamed and hurt so bad over what they did to me!"

"I'm certain you are, but let's go to the house where you, Josiah, and I can be more comfortable and see if we can ease the pain, okay?"

With me on his right, my arm around him, and Grandmother Chen on his left, we walked toward the house, my brothers acting as outriders, our protectors from what they viewed as the vagaries of the world, and my parents leading us. In the house, the three of us sat, with Malachi in the middle, on the living room couch. My brothers waited on the porch as sentinels or guardians of the gate, while Mom and Dad sat quietly in chairs facing us.

She eased Malachi's head to her shoulder, caressed his beautiful, but sad face, kissed him softly on the forehead as she had my brothers and me many, many times in our early years living not far from her.

"Why don't you tell Grandma Chen what it is that would cause such a sweet boy and the boyfriend of my Josiah to be so upset?"

For almost two hours Malachi unburdened himself, telling her of growing up with a mother who hated him, beat him, and consorted with all kinds of young men when his father was away; of the love his father had for him, attending grade school in Madison, working summer dance stock, taking dance lessons and how much he loved to dance and the arts, moving from Madison, and his mother remarrying Judge Lawson and their move to Georgia. Finally, he told her all of the lurid, vicious, debasing details of being kidnapped, raped, and beaten, believing his own mother or the Judge's sons were party to it.

As he talked I noticed Grandfather Chen enter the living room and sit next to Mom and Dad before switching my attention back to Malachi's conversation with Grandmother Chen.

"I'm so ashamed!" he whimpered softly.

"Ashamed of what, dear one?"

"I didn't fight harder; I didn't try to escape and I could've dressed differently, maybe so it wouldn't show off my body and looks so much like I was advertising I'm gay and they wouldn't have grabbed me. Judge Lawson and my own mother said I asked for it to happen; the way I dressed, the way I acted, dancing and prancing around on the stage in my tight leotards. She said everything about me said I'm gay and I want it. Grandma Chen, those men knew it from watching me!"

Malachi stopped, allowing Grandmother Chen to hold him. "You've nothing to be ashamed of Malachi Duranleau. What happened to you wasn't your fault! There were more of them than you. You exacted your punishment on them with your claim to be infected with a deadly disease. You survived! Being gay isn't something you can control; it's what you are, the same as the sun is what it is and the moon is what it is! It made no difference if you're gay or straight, those men could've cared less; they just wanted someone to rape! You didn't advertise a thing! It's not your fault! Understand?"

Malachi nodded his head, trying to process what she was telling him.

"You are so much more fortunate than others. You have a young man, my grandson, who loves you dearly; your Uncle Dave and Uncle Cayden who do as well. Now you have a Grandmother and Grandfather and more uncles, aunts, and cousins who love you and support you as well."


"All of the Chen Family and the Parker Family."

"But I'm not related!"

"You will be some day when you marry Josiah, so we may as well bring you into the family now."

Malachi smiled his pleasure at being accepted and loved by Grandmother Chen, but frowned, a puzzled expression crossing his face.

"What am I going to do now?"

"First, you're going to pick yourself up and live a life of love with Josiah. He loves you for who you are, not for any other reason. Second, you're gay and be proud of it. Third, leave here and go talk with Dr. Louie. I think he has much to explain. Fourth, you're going to save a waltz for me tomorrow night. Okay?"

"Yeah, and thanks Grandma Chen."

Pulling his head down, since he was much taller than she, Grandma kissed his forehead while saying, "a nip, a tuck, and a magic Band-Aid and you're all better!"

Malachi reared his head back, his mouth agape, eyes wide in recognition! "I know you! You're Doctor Carol and used to check me out or doctor me when I was sick or hurt when I was little and Dad would take me to the St. Vinnie's Free Clinic."

Grandmother Chen smiled her sweetest smile and asked, "Do you remember when you cut your knee and I had to put a couple of stitches in it?"

"Yeah!" and pulled up the leg of his shorts to show a very faint scar. "You put a Band-aid with stars on it over the cut! And I came to your house one Halloween and I was dressed as a toy soldier!"

Grandfather Chen, quiet until this moment, laughed, "You were so damned cute and Jerry, your Dad, was so proud of you."

"You knew my Dad?"

Malachi's world changed that morning, as well as my own since I had no idea my grandparents were familiar with his dad and him, making it all for the better for both of us. He not only had me, but his Uncles Dave and Cayden, but an extended family who knew him as a boy, giving him common history with them. They were people who knew him and it was important.

My grandparents knew Jericho (Jerry) Duranleau well. He'd served as a graduate teaching assistant in the History Department under my grandfather and later under another professor when my grandfather retired. Grandmother Chen volunteered her services before and after she retired at the free clinic where she first met Malachi when he came in for his first school physical and immunizations.

Jericho Duranleau could ill afford the necessary immunizations for Malachi to enter school and Malachi's mother refused to pay for them or even claim them on her insurance. It was her belief the boy was only a product of her recreation and it was up to his father to take care of him. Hence, Jericho ended up taking Malachi to the free clinic for all of his medical needs; shots, minor injuries, illnesses. Fortunately, nothing serious ever happened to the boy.

"I remember the first time we saw you dance," Grandfather Chen said. "You were in the Nutcracker as one of the toy soldiers. I don't think you could've been more than seven or eight at the time. Your dad was so proud of you and so were we. When he came to work for us, I often asked how you were doing and wondered why Jerry didn't bring you to the office. He'd only shrug his shoulders and comment he wanted to keep his work and family life separate."

"We remember Jerry stopping by the house when he and your mother were estranged, informing us she'd kicked him out and threatened him. He made us promise to keep a watchful eye on you and we did. But, your mother bundled you up and moved. We were quite disheartened we lost track of you," Grandmother Chen said sadly. "But, now we've found each other again! Isn't that wonderful?"

"When we first sighted you on Sunday in the company of Josiah, your resemblance to Jerry so clear, I almost shouted out my greeting to him, but as you came closer I could see it was not Jerry, but his lovely son. You are such a handsome, good looking young man, as your father was at a younger age."

"You should've said something to me!"

"We held our silence, wondering how you'd react; hoping it'd be positive, but it had to be on your terms, not ours. You were shy when young and, well, sometimes people change, but you've only improved. So much like your father."

She paused, looked at Malachi, and smiled. "I remember how he danced; as light as a feather, graceful as a slight breeze tickling the petals of a rose, and as elegant as the grandest of orchids or the royal diamonds of the empire."

"Do you know where he is now?" Malachi asked.

"Sadly, sweet one, we don't. Roy made inquiries around, but we couldn't locate him or you. Now the good fortunes of fate has brought us together again."

We were shortstopped on the way to Uncle Louie's camper by The Minx, James, and Scotty.

"Didn't eat your breakfast," The Minx announced, "so we brought you some," and gave the nod to James to hand Malachi a foam take-out container with several crepes in it. Malachi grinned, thanked them, and munched his breakfast as we walked.

Johnny greeted us, eyes red and puffy as we entered the camper.

"I'm so sorry, Malachi," Johnny pleaded. "I had no idea Dad would say anything or even that he was involved in your tests!"

Malachi responded by holding Johnny closely to himself, whispered something in Johnny's ear, and, with a slight smile, released him from his embrace.

Uncle Louis's eyes were red as well, apparently the results from his anguish over his actions at breakfast. He apologized profusely, with sincerity, words laced with the strong emotions he felt. We accepted Uncle Louie's invitation to sit and we visited for quite a while. Malachi listened attentively as Uncle Louie explained what brought about his indiscretion, brought on by his excitement over actually seeing and talking to Malachi for the first time and the possible promises research might hold. From the looks in Malachi's eyes, not his face, I could see he was still wary. It'd take more than one meeting with Uncle Louie to finally persuade Malachi all was well.

Uncle Louie promised Malachi the next time he was in Madison, he'd have a tour of the laboratory and have the opportunity to talk to some of the research scientists working on the project. It'd help him, Uncle Louie hoped, to better understand the important role he, Malachi, played in the research to perhaps cure AIDS or prevent it through gene therapy.

Malachi, as we left, gave Uncle Louie and Johnny a big hug, saying he understood how it could've happened and made it a point to especially thank Uncle Louie for discovering the special combination of genes he carried concerning immunity to HIV. He also understood his role in Uncle Louie's research wouldn't end with his recovery; it'd continue on so researchers could learn more. Malachi was okay with that, if it'd help others someday; he just didn't want it broadcast all over and was promised it wouldn't be. I'm not certain Malachi really believed it or put a lot of trust in the promise. Only time would tell!

Lunch at home was fun! The Minx, James, and Scotty, obviously having one hell of time, were full of stories and things they wanted to do, as well as those they already did with cousins. Aaron and Samuel planned on doing some swimming with cousins, while Seth, Malachi, and I would be on beach duty.

"Next year," pointing at Samuel and Aaron, "you guys will be on beach duty for a couple of days, so you better enjoy it while you can."

They wouldn't mind, both were great swimmers and got on well with all of their cousins.

Nothing was said concerning the mornings' incident between Uncle Louie and Malachi or Grandmother and Grandfather Chen's role in calming the situation. James would look at Malachi as if to check on how he was doing. Whenever he was caught, Malachi would give him a slight smile and a wink, reassuring him all was well.

Malachi did comment, several times, how unbelievable it was they knew him, when he was younger, and his dad. He seemed so much more relaxed and at ease among all of us. I guess the knowledge there were people who cared for him eased his mind and his shyness around members of the family.

We took first shift in the boat near the swim raft in the afternoon. There was a large crowd on the beach and in the water since everyone who was going to be at the reunion was here, even those staying out of the home area. One nice thing, with so many in the water, the shower tents would be less busy, except for the adults.

The boat rocked slightly as Malachi shifted his weight on the seat.

"I suppose I shouldn't have blown up the way I did to your Uncle Louie, but all of a sudden, what he was saying and all, just hit me wrong! I suppose everyone else in the family thinks I'm some sort of a nut or a real cry-baby."

"I doubt it, Malachi; in fact it was probably a good thing it happened. It sure cleared the air and explained a lot without saying a lot."

Given the diversity in our family and the various levels of higher education, I doubted much would be said. I'd expect he'd have much more support than he realized, as well as their concern for his welfare. Between the Parker Family and the Chen Family, he could now be assured any attack on him would be met with an immediate and almost indefatigable counter-attack or defense by the families.

Bobbing around on the lake, watching the swimmers, I also noticed all of my aunts and uncles making their way to our house. Apparently, there was some sort of gathering of the elders being held, probably at the behest of my grandmother. We finished our shift on the boat, completed our shift on shore, and was back in the boat when I observed some of the aunts and uncles leave the house and return to their own family groups. All left except my Dad, Aunt Ann Burrows (the Judge), Uncle Bruce Chen, and Uncle Kenneth Chen, both lawyers. I said nothing to Malachi, but I was willing to bet the legal beagles were conferencing on Malachi's situation. I was convinced now my Dad was the attorney who handled Malachi's extraction from Georgia and made the guardianship by his Uncle Dave possible.

During our final shift back to shore duty, Seth, tossed a thumb over his shoulder toward the house as we passed each other. "Looks like the Chen Family Supreme Court has made a decision and adjourned."

The legal beagles, except for Dad, were leaving now as well. I didn't think Malachi noticed the group or overheard our comments, since he was busy giving James and Scotty a hug. Soon a half dozen others wanted a hug as well and he obliged. My boyfriend was becoming more and more popular and accepted!

Our shifts ended, the beach closed for supervised swimming, and Malachi and I headed toward the house to change from our swim wear into shorts, tee-shirts, and tennis shoes, our normal hot weather clothing. My brothers, including Johnny, trooped along, evidently thinking they were bound by duty to escort Malachi, should any evil demons attack him. The only demon liable to attack him would be me and what I wanted to do, I needed no audience as witnesses.

In the dormitory, where our street clothes were, everyone stripped out of their wet suits. Malachi and I, naked, paying no attention to the others, were standing, sort of visiting, and overheard James.

"See, Scotty, I told you it was massive!"

The Minx, entering into the conversation, snorted, "Massive – it's fuckin huge!"

"Terrance!" Seth scolded.

"Well, it is!"

Malachi just laughed, turned so everyone could take a good look at his nakedness.

"Alright, everyone, have a good look, satisfy your curiosity, and we can move on, okay?"

The remarks were typical boy comments and soon over. There were a couple of young men who seemed more than just a little impressed! Their crotches sported erect, on the way to maturing penises, brought to their stiffest by the sight of a cock much larger and thicker than theirs, dangling in front of their eyes. Scotty and James simultaneously reacting to the changes in their body as they stared at Malachi, by quickly pulling up their shorts concealing their tumescence.

The barbeque pit was stoked with chunks of oak and maple by Uncle James, a pharmacist, and Uncle Byron, an ophthalmologist, and burning brightly, slowly turning those blazing chunks into hot, bright red glowing, coals with sufficient prolonged heat, with additional wood added as needed throughout the night, to thoroughly roast the whole hog later to be spitted over the undulating, unrelenting fire. Malachi listened carefully and observed with certain scrutiny as they explained the process, storing away the information for future reference or just plain knowledge of something he'd not encountered before.

The evening entertainment in the party tent was improvised, yet simple and fun. The tables used for dining were also now used for card games, board games, visiting, eating, or anything else. There were prizes galore for young and old alike, depending on what games you might choose. In one section was a fish pond for the youngest ones, bingo for young and old, darts for teens and adults, and what looked like arm wrestling. Oh well!

There was a table set up for snacks people brought to share, soda, water, tea, and for the adults, some beer, wine, and mixers (bring your own booze, however). Malachi and I helped ourselves, meandered to a table near the wooden dance floor in front of the small stage at the other end of the tent, sat down, and prepared to enjoy our evening of entertainment and food.

One of my cousins brings his DJ equipment every year and had it set up on the small stage, readying it for dancing. The dancing tonight was basically for young people, or those who felt they were young, and would be music more suited to us, although there'd be some slower songs tossed in to lighten the atmosphere, so to speak.

The music started and Malachi asked if I danced. Of, course, Mom insisted all of her boys learn to dance and encouraged us to participate. A slow song popped up, Malachi put down his fork, leaned over, asked me to dance, and we did. It took a couple of songs for us to become familiar with each other's style, but with me following Malachi's lead, it was as if we'd been dancing together forever. He was so light on his feet and so guiding, it brought out the best in me. He could cause a pregnant cow with a crutch to dance with the grace and ease of a prima ballerina or a principal male in the cast.

We sat out a couple of dances and while sipping our sodas, we noticed James and Scotty dancing; well, James knew how and was trying to teach Scotty. I looked at Malachi, tipped my head in their direction, and we both headed out to the dance floor. I took Scotty, while Malachi danced with James (absolutely making him google-eyed over the experience) teaching him how to lead in a dance. Scotty was a quick study as I patiently talked him through some basic dance steps and how to follow his partner's lead. It took several dances, slow and fast, until both of our students finally seemed comfortable.

I returned Scotty to James and Malachi joined me, after telling the boys to watch us closely and, by dancing alongside of us, imitate our moves until they felt comfortable enough to dance on their own. It wasn't long before we had a new dance couple on the floor.

There were others, beside James and me, who wanted the opportunity to dance with Malachi. Several of my female cousins or my male cousins' girlfriends or fiancées stepped up and requested dances. Malachi obliged and they enjoyed it, as much as he seemed to.

I noticed my uncles getting ready to put the hog on the spit, so I interrupted the dancing, apologizing to those who might want a second dance with him, and led Malachi outside to the barbeque pit. We watched the men lift the hog, spitted from asshole to mouth, with a long, heavy steel rod with a gear wheel on one end. To ensure the carcass wouldn't inadvertently loosen from the spit, it was secured with heavy wire wrapped strategically around it. Once in place, a bicycle type chain was looped around the gear wheel engaging the sprockets while being looped tightly around the gear wheel of an electric motor below it outside the barbeque pit, protected by the cement blocks of the pit. The electric motor would provide the power for the slow rotisserie action needed to cook the hog evenly. As the pig roasted, periodically during the process, one of the cooks would baste it vegetable oil from a five gallon bucket nearby. The basting brush was a long-handled cotton mop.

His curiosity satisfied, we returned to the dance, finally quitting around eleven o'clock. Malachi had a good time and I hoped it'd assuage the memories of the unfortunate incident with Uncle Louie. It wasn't to be the case however.

His terror driven screams of pain, torment, frustration, and for help tore me from my sleep. Malachi's flailing arms, thrashing legs, torso rocking back and forth, his feet jerking as he tried to escape his captors, so vivid in his nightmare, all too real in his mind, frightened me since I'd not witnessed it before. I couldn't continue allowing his torment to continue, believing he was all alone and held captive by those who raped, beat, and humiliated him. I did as I did to my smaller brothers when they had frightening dreams, I quickly moved my body atop his, wrapped my arms around him, trying to quell his actions, but was uncertain I could do so.

Holding him tight, feeling him try to escape me as well as his inner demons, I lay my head on his shoulder, pleading urgently into his ear.

"It's me Scooter, Malachi; hush, hush my love! All will be well!" urging him to wake, over and over and over.

His body, wet with perspiration from his forceful movements and mental torments, soon coated mine as well, but I held him tighter, continuing my litany for him to wake and how much I loved him.

His Uncle Dave, accompanied by his Uncle Cayden stepped into the room.

"Nightmare again?" Dave Taylor asked.

I nodded, turned my head back, saying more forcefully, "Malachi, wake please; it's Scooter, you're safe now, okay?"

Feeling the tension begin leaving his body, relaxing my grip on him, yet still persevering to continue my bodily contact with him and my whispered encouragements, I turned to look toward Mr. Taylor and Mr. Allison, noticing for the first time, both were completely naked, standing unabashed concerning their state of undress, so concerned were they for Malachi's welfare. As silly as it may sound, given the circumstances, I could only conclude, from my observations of his Uncle Dave, Malachi didn't inherit his cock size from that side of the family; it definitely had to be from his father's.

Malachi opened his eyes, looked carefully at me, and lifted my head from his shoulder.

"I'm sorry, Scooter. Did I frighten you with all of my bullshit dreams?"

"Not really, just concerned me until I got you awake, but now, everything is just great."

"Yeah, it is, especially since you're lying on top of me, holding me, goosing my stomach with your dick!"

"Hah, you doofus, I'm not!"

I wasn't either; soft as a piece of rope, but I wouldn't be for long the way he was wiggling his hips ever so slightly causing the shivers to run up and down my body this time. Pretty soon, I figured, the homing pigeon the size of an eagle would be trying to seek its nest and it wouldn't be desirous for his uncles to witness the landing.

Malachi twisted his head toward his uncles, reached down and pulled the blanket he'd tossed off during his dreams up over us. "I'm fine now, Uncles!"

Each took a deep breath of relief and left.

We lay there, me resting on top of Malachi, feeling his stiff prod nudging at my rear portal. "It all seems so real, Scooter, when I have these dreams, but it didn't last as long this time."

"Maybe because I was here?"

"Could be!"

We talked about it and concluded this episode was precipitated by the encounter with Uncle Louie. There were events triggering each episode he had, but as he acknowledged, they were becoming fewer, but there was no way he could completely erase what happened from his mind. It wasn't pleasant for either Malachi or me, but we hoped it was part of his healing process and he'd be able to handle it better each time instead of relapsing into depression.

Held in Malachi's embrace, our body heat radiating one to the other, the smoothness of our nakedness comforting, yet exciting, brought us both to unbelievable cock-stands, his more than mine I thought since his member is much longer, pressing into each other. Tempted and prompted by his stiff cock, well within reach, I clasped his and mine together and began a slow, gentle, erotically stimulating massaging action up and down, slipping our foreskins over the heads, sending little shivers of delight through both of us until we spewed our loads on each other.

The bliss brought on by our orgasms also brought on a reflective, contemplative, and verbal mood to Malachi.

"You know, as much as the fucking hurt and the beating when I told them I was infected, it was the verbal humiliation, the emotional turmoil and torment it caused which was the most painful and apparently lasting since my most recent nightmares have revolved around them. This one was especially vivid."

Malachi, in recent weeks, usually woke up right away during one of his nightmares, although they were becoming less frequent. In this case, the continual shouts of degradation, encouraging each of the rapists to fuck more vigorously, thrust harder, last longer, or be more aggressive than the last one to shoot his load into Malachi's ass all seemed to penetrate his drugged up mind. The sounds of grunts of sexual satisfaction from his rapists or those watching and either pleasuring themselves or each other would spur them on to new heights, such as several of them coating his face and body with their ejaculate and laughing as they compared amounts deposited.

Bets were placed on how many cocks would fit into his asshole and he was tipped over the padded narrow table and held while first one, then two, and finally the attempts to shove a third penis in with the others. He thought it was this incident and a couple of others later, which tore his sphincter, bring about the eventual surgery.

"The most humiliating, I thought, was one guy, after fucking to a climax, shouted out he had to piss and did! I could feel him filling me with his urine, my intestines bloating, until I felt I couldn't hold it any longer, but his cock stayed stiff and he pressed up against me tight, plugging me. When he finally pulled out, I could feel myself empty and everyone laughing. I vaguely remembering someone taking a hose or something and washing me off so their fun could begin again."

Malachi knew he was doomed to either death right away or later when he woke briefly and heard the discussion concerning selling him as a sex slave and how much they thought they could redeem him for to help cover their initial costs for him or just dump him on the street since he was so used.

"The comment I'll never forget is the one man made wondering if the two they bought me from could find them another."

He grew silent after his comment. I waited for him to say something else, but was rewarded with the soft sounds of his sleep. Curling my head on his chest, I joined him.

Fourth of July dawned bright and cloudless, sunny, but not too hot, a perfect day to celebrate! The only activities actually planned were the lunch at noon, pot luck (leftovers from lunch plus some other stuff people brought), fire-works, and the dance continuing until around eleven or midnight, depending on how long people stuck around, danced, or visited. The beach would be open for those who wanted to swim (different guards), waterskiing, and pontoon rides.

The Fourth of July parade in town would start at ten for those who wanted to go in to watch it and the carnival rides in the park would start around one in the afternoon. Malachi, Johnny, Seth, Aaron, Samuel, and I loaded up in my truck to go to the parade. Mom filled our van with the rest of my siblings (and Scotty) and as many cousins as could fit. Others did the same. There were quite a few of us at the parade.

It was typical Fourth of July up north parade; color guard, grand marshal, queen, several marching band, local organization floats, antique vehicles, fire trucks, politicians, horses, and logging trucks. Candy was tossed into the crowd and the kids scrambled to grab their share, with parents exhorting them not to get trampled or run over. Nobody did! I watched and laughed as James and Scotty, along with The Minx jostling other kids out of the way (or being jostled out of the way), trying to stuff their pockets. I was going to say something to Malachi about it, but when I turned to do so, I saw him, along with Aaron and Samuel, racing out to grab some candy as well.

It was great fun, but I did notice Seth and Johnny drift away from us at one point. Parade over, I looked for them in the dispersing crowd and spotted them talking to two local girls in Seth's class at school. Seth saw me, evidently figuring we'd be heading home soon, leaned over to say something to the girls, and he and Johnny walked toward us.

I made no comments on the way home concerning Seth and Johnny's "friends" figuring Seth would say something about the girls they were obviously "sniffing" around. Nearing the entrance to our lane, Seth coughed softly, "Scooter, could you run Johnny and me back into town after lunch? We'd like to go to the carnival."

"No problem! Let me know when you're ready to go, okay?"

Lunch was fantastic, as always! Malachi was almost gob-smacked as he viewed the roasted pig, splayed out on the large stainless steel table, being carved and sliced and plated for those going through the serving line. The aromas wafting from the roasted meat was mouth-watering, overwhelming, causing me to drool almost as if I were one of Pavlov's dogs, or as Malachi put it, "It would make a dead man drool!"

There was plenty to eat from the choices of side dishes, as well as a plethora of desserts. As people filled their plates, they retired to the big tent to enjoy their meal and conversation. New arrivals joined the serving line, evidently driving in this morning while we were at the parade. This wasn't unusual since there were those who couldn't get a whole week off, perhaps only a day or two, and there were those who'd just come for the day, if the distance to drive wasn't too great. It was fun to have them all here at any rate.

Malachi and I sat with Seth and Johnny and several other cousins. Our conversation was light and mostly revolved around the parade, the carnival in town, and the large gathering of family we had at the reunion this year.

"Okay," Malachi asked, "how long has the Chen Family gathering been held here and where were they held before here?"

"Boy, I don't know," Seth replied. "It's been here as long as I can remember. It's the only place I can remember having it. I think Grandpa Parker and Dad decided to have it here after Dad and Mom were married."

"From what I remembered being said, when Dad and Mom were married, it was also the start of a great friendship between Grandpa Parker and Grandfather Roy and Grandmother Carol Chen."

I collaborated his version since it was the only one I'd ever heard. Evidently Malachi was satisfied and returned to his lunch, savoring every bite of the spit-roasted pork. I happened to look away, casually looking over the crowd in the tent and outside of it. I noticed a stranger, a white guy, talking to Uncle James. Clearly Uncle James knew him and knew him well by the way he reacted to the stranger. Some words were exchanged and they both walked outside and joined Dad near the serving table. The three of them walked toward the house and as they did, they waved to Uncle Ken and he joined them.

I was interrupted in my thoughts when Seth asked, "When do you want to go to town?"

"Anxious, are you?" Malachi mused with a knowing twinkle in his eyes.

Parking in the city lot not far from the park, we could hear the music and noise emanating from the carnival rides, barkers, and chatter of people. It was but a short distance to walk and when we entered the park and on our arrival, we could see the rides were in full operation and filled with eager, excited, and, in some cases, frightened riders. We gave Johnny and Seth a wave with "see yah later" along with an admonition reminding them we told Mom we'd be home by five.

Malachi and I decided to wander the grounds, perusing the midway, checking out the various food stands in the middle and the various games of chance "joints" around the sides. The "joints" offered prizes, for a small fee of course, for taking a chance, using your "skills," to participate. The owners of the joints win seventy to seventy-five percent of the time and almost everyone knows it! This still doesn't stop people from spending their money, even though the odds are against them winning anything. There's always the outside chance, you just might win. Of course, as the pitchmen or operators of the joints will shout out, "You can't win if you don't play." It's just like the lottery; you won't win if you don't buy a ticket.

We stopped at the joint with big Teddy Bears as prizes. Malachi said he wanted to watch. The purpose of the game was to ring three round rings around any three pegs on a board some eight feet back from the counter in the booth (no leaning we heard the operator tell one player). Malachi watched several young men and a couple of older ones, step up, pay their dollar or two or three and try their luck. None were successful!

"Look closely," Malachi murmured surreptitiously to me, "the board is tipped, about a thirty degree angle. Toss the ring the wrong way, too hard, or too soft and it'll bounce off and drop down between the pegs. If two get on one peg, the third one will bounce off as well."

We watched a couple of more players step up and before paying, questioned the operator if it was even possible to get three rings on pegs. The operator shrugged, smiled, and tossed first one ring, then a second, and finally a third. All of them landed securing around a peg at different locations on the board.

"That answer your question?"

"The guy is using a reverse spin on the rings!" Malachi muttered, almost to himself. "Want a bear, Scooter?"

"Only if you don't spend too much."

He paid his dollar, tossed three rings, but only two landed around the pegs. He listened patiently while the joint operator exhorted him to try again. Malachi pleaded and even whined about how difficult it was and expressed his doubt about spending any more money.

"How about just one more dollar; one hundred pennies, twenty nickels, ten dimes, four quarters, or two half dollars? Surely you've got that much in your pants," the operator spieled out loudly, a crowd beginning to gather.

Malachi produced another dollar, threw three rings, but only one connected.

The pitch the operator was delivering became louder, exhorting Malachi to spend just one more dollar, surely he'd win this time. A larger crowd gathered, hoping to see my handsome, boyfriend win or at least try, hoping against the impossible but still hoping and enjoying the entertainment.

I gave Malachi a small tug on his shirt, urging him to quit the game and we'd move on.

"Just one more time, Scooter," he begged, giving me wink before asking to borrow a dollar.

"Odd," I thought since I knew he wasn't without funds, but dug into my pockets and produced four quarters.

Malachi slowly pushed the four quarters across the counter, as if it were the last of our funds and he hated to part with the coin. He looked as if he was really agonizing over the decision to "try one last time!" I looked at his face, wondering what he was up to, because he was faking it! He might fool the crowd and the joint operator, but he sure as hell wasn't fooling me.

Taking several deep breaths, as if to calm his nerves, he tossed a ring – it settled easily around a peg on the right side of the board. A look of great concern seemed to cross his face as he carefully tossed the next one- to the left side of the board and watched it settle around a peg. The crowd grew noisier, the pitch from the operator more frantic, urging him to throw the third ring, and for the crowd to encourage him, which they did.

Malachi looked so anxious, so pained, concentrating on his last throw! He tossed, the ring seemed to linger in the air just ever so much, until it settled around a peg just to the left of the center one. The crowd erupted, the joint operator shouted "We got a winner" and rattled a big cow bell, adding to the raucous noise!

"Pick a bear, Scooter," Malachi said with a shit-eating grin on his face.

I picked the biggest bear on the rack; standing at almost four feet tall, brown, soft and cuddly like Malachi, but not near as sensual. The joint operator handed the bear to me, leaned over to Malachi, and whispered, "If you want to earn some extra cash, stop by tonight."

Malachi just shook his head in the negative and we walked away. We had no notion of coming back, but I glanced over my shoulder as I struggled holding the bear as we walked away, and could see the crowd lining up to take their chances as well.

Carrying a stuffed toy bear less than a foot and half shorter than me was awkward to say the least. With each step I took, one of the bear's legs bumped into one of mine, causing me to struggle walking. I was exasperated and sought some relief from my discomfiture and mentioned it to Malachi, who'd taken note of it as well.

"Perhaps if we wrapped the bear's legs around my waist and tied them, I could walk better."

"If we did, then it'd look like you were fucking the teddy bear!"

"Oh! Well, it's not that far to the truck anyway."

Mr. Bear perched in the rear seat of the truck, Malachi and I decided to cruise the town for a while before finding a place to enjoy a soda. There were a couple of franchised nationally known burger places in town, but we chose a locally owned pizza parlor instead to have our cooling repast. It was going on three-thirty when we left and returned to the parking lot where the truck, Mr. Bear inside guarding it from thievery, awaited us. Nearing the truck we also saw Johnny and Seth scrambling in our direction, intent on getting to the truck as fast as possible, I thought.

Arriving at the same time, Seth declared breathlessly, "Let's go home! Now!"

Seth didn't look completely intact, if you know what I mean, since his nose was trickling a little blood, there was a rather nasty cut above one eye, and his knuckles appeared to be scraped in places. Johnny didn't look much better, sporting a blackening eye and a split lower lip. His knuckles also needed some attention as well.

Climbing into the truck, Johnny commented, "Nice bear!" while Seth growled, "Fuckin' redneck bastards!"

Oh, my; this didn't portend well at all.

Parking the truck at home, it didn't take the two of them long to jump out, locate Grandmother Chen and head to the house.

The music by the D.J. started around seven in the big tent and people began gathering to eat (again), visit some more, have a few drinks, dance some, and enjoy the evening before the fireworks began. Daylight savings time, this far north, meant it wouldn't be dark enough for fireworks until after nine-thirty or so. In the meantime, the dance would go until then and resume after the fireworks were over. Malachi and I loaded our plates and settled in at a table to eat. It wasn't long until Johnny and Seth joined us. Both sported bandages over some of their injuries; Seth over one eye and Johnny over one knuckle.

"Stitches?" I asked Seth and received only a nod in return; no explanation, only a nod.

They hadn't been seated two minutes and barely started to eat when Malachi's Uncle Cayden, who was a sheriff's deputy ordinarily assigned to child protection, and another uniformed officer entered the tent along with Uncle Louie and Dad.

"Head's up!" Seth whispered to Johnny.

Mr. Allison was in plainclothes, with badge, gun, and radio on his belt as well as a bright shiny badge hanging around his neck. The four of them walked up to our table and stood a moment, as if taking notice of the injuries on at least two of us, before addressing their concerns or reasons for being there. Dad and Uncle Louie didn't really look all that happy by Johnny and Seth's appearances or the presence of the cops at our reunion.

Mr. Allison sort of cleared his throat. "There was a bit of a dust-up at the carnival this afternoon. It was reported there was fight going on behind one of the tents. By the time we got there, it was all over. According to two of the four men involved who were being stitched up when I interviewed them, they were assaulted by two rather tall and well-built Asian-American appearing men, probably twenty-five to thirty years old. The two Asian-Americans evidently used brass knuckles or something similar, if the victims are to be believed, to inflict considerable damage to their faces and with several well placed kicks, injured their privates as well. You boys know anything about this?"

Seth looked up from his meal, frowned (although difficult because of the stitches in his eyebrow) looking concerned and thoughtful, pondered the question. "You'll notice, I'm certain, we're all teen boys, not very tall or big, and not men, but, if, maybe, you could describe these miscreants who caused such a dishabille in a little more detail, we might remember seeing them, since all four of us were at the carnival today!"

I damned near shit when he said it with no sign of guilt, remorse, or the fact it was a lie- well not entirely since Malachi and I were there, but left them. It was now evident we shouldn't have.

"Yeah," butted in Johnny, adding to the mess, "Malachi won a great big teddy bear at a booth." He grinned almost triumphantly, adding, "Did you know almost seventy percent of the time the player loses and the owner makes money?" and had the balls to look expectantly at the uniformed deputy as if he was to answer it.

Instead the deputy was not to be distracted. "No, I didn't, but I do want to know how you boys got all bunged up!"

"Soccer!" spouted Seth confidently.

"Gets a bit rough," added Johnny trying to reinforce Seth's announcement.

"I don't think it can get that rough," the deputy snorted.

"I try to tell my grandson's not to play so intensely when they're engaged in what is supposed to be a non-contact sport. They end up playing it like rugby," Grandmother Chen pointed out, materializing from who knows where.

"I'd like to see what the others look like," the deputy said patiently, raising his eyebrows as he looked at this small, seemingly naïve grandmotherly woman.

As if by magic (and a slight wave of Grandmother's hand unseen by all except me), a half dozen of my cousins began sauntering by our table with expressions of "nice game," "pretty rough today," and "how's the eye, Seth?" Each sported a bandage on an arm, a knuckle, above an eye, on a cheek, or knee and began sitting down, two at our table and four at one close by.

Grandmother Chen smiled sweetly, changing the subject, reminding Malachi he'd promised her a dance later, while the uniformed deputy groaned, "Oh my god!" realizing his suspects were well-alibied, this frail looking grandmother had the best of him, and his was a lost cause here.

Cayden tipped his head in the direction of the parking lot, indicating the interview was over, evidently indicating the miscreants weren't to be found among this gathering of Asian-Americans, but I did catch a bit of a twitch of a smile as they departed. Dad and Uncle Louie didn't find it near as funny, but when Grandmother shook her head and declined to pursue it any further, they knew, sooner or later, truth would out.

Seth, Johnny, and the two who'd joined us during our conversation with the deputies, vacated our table like rats fleeing a sinking ship and joined the four who sat at another table, when Cayden and the uniformed deputy left the tent. Heads together, yacking to each other, led me to speculate what the topic was, but thought it was better I had no idea. Malachi observed them for a minute or two, settled his eyes on me, as if wondering how much I knew about the fracas in town.

"With four other white guys there, did the two of them," flipping his head toward Seth and Johnny, "really do that much damage?"


Knowing from the look on his face my answer was insufficient, I went on to explain, although Dad made certain we were able to defend ourselves, Seth was the one who really took it seriously and was, in effect, our lord and protector when it came to fighting. Seth and Johnny were active in martial arts competition when we lived in Madison and many times entered in pairs. They both were mentored and trained by Uncle Kenneth, the lawyer, and had achieved considerable success.

"I don't know what levels they've acquired," I admitted, "but I do know they can be damned fierce. I've watched them spar with each other and no way would I mess with one of them."

Seth also established his reputation as the protector of the Parker Boys earlier in the previous school year, our first here, when a bully decided to exert his "toughness" on me outside of a classroom. Seth dispatched him with an ease and conviction leaving no doubt the Parker Boys were to be left alone.

Malachi nodded thoughtfully. "Who would've ever guessed?"

Setting his plate aside, he grinned at me, waggled his eyebrows lasciviously, and licked his lips. "Let's dance or something!"

Since we were in the midst of a crowd of relatives in the big tent, I chose to dance, although I would've loved to do the "or something!"

He held my hand, led me to the dance floor, and we began to dance, enjoying the closeness, the warmth of each other, and the rhythm flowing from the music to our bodies. A slow song brought us into very, very close contact; so close I could feel his stiff member, wiggling, jiggling with every step we took, held tight in his shorts, prod up against my stomach, sending those little and big thrills of sexual desire up and down my spine with it settling in my own hardening prick. Slowing rubbing up against me as his hips moved, I was reminded how large it was and where it now fit – not with apparent ease, but it fit and I loved it.

Malachi leaned over so his lips brushed my ear, his breathy, suggestive, voice spoke volumes before his words.

"I want to be inside you so bad!"

He wasn't the only one; I wanted him then and there, my desire was so strong, but propriety certainly wouldn't permit it – here! It never occurred to me, before I met Malachi, how two high school boys could love each other with such completeness and commitment as I knew we loved each other.

I remember Grandpa Parker saying how he felt when he first met Uncle Grant in the university library so many years ago. It wasn't love at first sight, more like the second "date" Uncle Grant maneuvered him into, when meeting him at the library the second time, asked him if he wanted to "share a coke with a love sick sophomore." Uncle Grant warmed Grandpa's heart, gave purpose and meaning to his life, and hope for the future, according to Grandpa. I felt the same way each time I was with Malachi, sort of like a moth drawn to flame or light. He was a siren call I couldn't resist, a call to a life of love and sustenance where his love was deeper and warmer than a ray of sunshine on a summer day or a spring rain shower springing forth life from the earth.

"God, I love to dance," announced Malachi as he swirled be around, and one dance evolved into another, "especially with you! I could dance this way with no other – ever!"

Glancing around the dance floor as we glided across it, I saw the stranger I'd spotted earlier in the day about the same time as Malachi did, dancing with a cousin I'd not seen for maybe eight years. It was Eddie Chen, one of Uncle James' sons and about ten years older than me. I wondered what brought him to reunion this year and who the stranger was dancing with him.

Malachi asked who they were and I was about to answer when Grandmother Chen interrupted our dance.

"Josiah, you can't have him all to himself, after all, he did promise me a waltz and I have it on good advice there will be several upcoming after this song ends."

Malachi and I separated and sure enough, the D.J. played a waltz and he and Grandmother Chen danced. Malachi could make anyone an excellent dancer, but there was no need with her. She was quick to follow his lead, assuming the very formal waltz position, they began gliding and twirling across the floor, right arms extended, her left hand on his shoulder, his about her waist, stepping daintily, assuredly, with great skill and finesse, as they executed each step, each move, with the ease, skill, and proficiency of professionals even though there was considerable difference in their height. This was not Grandmother Chen's first waltz and certainly Malachi's. It was as if they'd danced together their entire lives. No wonder Mom was able to teach us to dance, she learned from Grandmother Chen.

Everyone stopped dancing, stood to the sides of the dance floor as their mother, grandmother, flowed across the floor in the arms of the boyfriend of one of her grandsons, a boyfriend who loved to dance with all of his heart and soul, causing me to beam with pride, watching him pay homage in such a manner to my grandmother. The waltz evolved into another and with nary a misstep their motions slipped easily into the next song.

The second waltz ended and Malachi, with a bow and a kiss on her cheek, thanked her, and walked over to where Mom was sitting with Dad and requested her hand in the next song. A waltz began playing and he led her to the floor where she, with the same grace and skill, danced a formal waltz with Malachi. In the meantime, Grandfather Chen escorted his wife to the floor and they danced with the confidence and ease of a couple who not only danced together for many years, but were comfortable in each other's embrace and, from the looks they gave each other, intensely in love.

I'd watched Mom and Dad dance many times and her dance with my brothers as she taught them as she had me, but watching her dance with Malachi, one who'd been taught to dance by professionals, associated with them, and whose father was a professional as well, was by far the most emotionally moving, joyful, pleasurable experience and proudest moment I had in a long time. Tears welled up in my eyes as only my grandparents, Malachi and Mom occupied the floor, all others choosing to watch the beautiful performance on the floor.

The last note of the waltz sounded, he bowed to Mom, kissed her lightly on the cheek as he had Grandmother Chen, and prepared to leave the floor. He halted when another song began, one by Puccini and, hearing a soft plea from Grandmother Chen, Malachi bowed to her, assumed a solo dance ballet pose, left arm reaching high, right leg extended, and moved so gracefully, so romantically in a solo dance, one obviously he was more than just a little familiar with, choreographed for a male, a principal in either a ballet company or for a program designed to entertain such as in a dance company or summer stock performance. The song was slow, rhythmic, well suited to his lithe frame, long legs, and graceful movements. I was enthralled, mouth open in wonder, observing a very professional dancer, until half way through the number, he danced to me, lifted me gently from my chair, saying simply, "follow my lead," and spun me out onto the floor. From there, I did little except follow his lead since I didn't really know the steps, but most of all, stood while he expressed his love for me through the dance, until the last few measures, when he clasped me close, spun me around in a waltz step, lay his head next to mine, gave me a kiss, and as the final notes sounded, spun me out, held my hand, and bowed low over it.

The tent was silent, only for moments, before the applause started. Malachi, still holding my hand, led me to the center of the floor, and bade me to bow with him, only his was different than mine. A foot to the front, a sweeping gesture of arm and hand, a bowing from the waist, before raising up, and with another sweep of his hand, urged applause for me.

We sat and Grandmother Chen came over to our table, gave Malachi a hug and a kiss.

"Thank you Malachi. I was concerned you might not remember the number or take offense. I remember the first time I saw you perform that particular selection; you weren't more than ten at the time and it was one your father was commissioned to choreograph. You won my heart then as a performer and have it still."

Grandfather Chen joined her in his thanks and appreciation for the gift Malachi just gave them, the gift of memory, beauty, grace, and artful interpretation of music to dance.

We rested, sipping our sodas, and Eddie Chen and his companion approached our table.

"May we join you?" Eddie asked.

"Of course," I answered. It was then I noticed the wedding bands on Eddie's hand and his companions.

"Eddie Chen," he said extending his hand to Malachi, "and my husband, Adam Myatt-Chen."

As they shook, I introduced Malachi, as my boyfriend, to Adam and Eddie. I figured Eddie already knew who I was, but offered my name to Adam so he would as well. I did include who my father and mother were so he'd have some notion as to which family group I belonged to. I knew how difficult it was for Malachi trying to keep everyone sorted out.

After some small talk concerning the dancing, the upcoming fireworks, and the number of people in attendance, Adam leaned forward, looked across the table at Malachi, and nodded his head.

"I've been where you've been Malachi. I was raped in my sophomore year of college by another student and his drunken companions!"

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