The Courtship of Levi Moore

by Nicholas Hall

Chapter 13

" No one's going to love you like me
No one else can't you see.
No one's going to love you like me
No one, no one.
I know sometimes you feel so lonely
I know you felt so sad and blue.
But this time you know I'm the only
Love for you that's coming through
With everything I say and do."

(Gustavo Santaolalla – from the song 'No One's Going to Love You Like Me')

"Say what!" I exclaimed not certain what I heard and what it meant. "I don't want to be the one who causes you to leave because I'm David's lover."

David slowly released me, tears streaking down his face, as he stood, turned carefully, and focused his eyes on his brother-in-law. I was fearful, from seeing his clenched fist hanging at his sides to the twitching muscles of his jaw, he'd do something very drastic indeed and perhaps plant a facer on Fred, making things even worse than they already were. Not only was the holiday all fucked up, but when David stood and turned, he did block the sight of my stomach from the others where his tears soaked the front of my shirt just above the belt. I'm so damn thin, my pants tend to ride down a bit (really a bunch), and his tears made it look as if he'd been sucking on my cloth covered cock or I'd just blown a wad in my pants. It made the situation complicated enough as it was without him beating the shit out of Fred!

"What do you mean, Fred?" Lettie asked, from the door way, her voice quivering, stricken from the announcement I was leaving, Mattie claiming he was going to follow if I left, his pronouncement of Lindsey's racial prejudice, beating her sons, and illicit love affairs, David kneeling on the floor crying and holding me, begging me not to leave him very much like a small boy fearing separation from those he loved, and now Fred announcing he and her daughter would leave instead. This was becoming a real cluster-fuck!

"What I mean, Mother Coleman," Fred explained, "Lindsey and I are leaving first thing in the morning after she wakes. Her drunken performance this evening was inexcusable and so, so wrong. It was one of many we've suffered over the past years. Mattie was entirely correct in all he said and I find the situation with Lindsey intolerable."

Fred paused, walked over to me, and extended his hand.

"Levi, I offer my most profound apology for words spoken by Lindsey earlier this evening. They were inexcusable, hurtful, and not representative of how I or my sons feel toward you or Mattie or people in general. You, David, and Mattie and other members of the family now see the woman she's become and we, as a family, can no longer avoid facing it and enabling it! It'll now be up to her to face it without the boys and me. I will be filing for divorce when we return. The boys have agreed to testify against their mother for the many egregious acts she's committed toward them and what they've observed."

This really set Lettie Coleman off, sobbing, crying, and holding on tight to John as he tried to comfort her. This Thanksgiving was now worse than a cluster-fuck, it was a disaster of major proportion, worse than a lady backing into a fan (you know, dis-assed her) or getting fucked up the ass by a Clydesdale horse. A real pain in the ass, if you know what I mean.

Switching his attention to David, Fred said remorsefully, "You should feel ill will toward me, David. I can't prevent it. Words said cannot be unsaid like a bell which can't be un-rung. I can only offer you my most profound apology. I really believe you've found the love of your life; a jewel worth preserving and someone you love beyond what most of us ever expect to experience. I hope and pray, you, Levi, and Mattie will feel comfortable and welcome at my home anytime, once this current dishabille is concluded. She is your sister, but she needs counseling in order to conquer her drinking and extreme prejudices and discriminatory attitude toward others."

Fred took time explaining to his mother-in-law and father-in-law the problems they'd faced, as a family, from about the time their youngest started school. Lindsey began drinking, spending time away from home, and, Fred suspected, taking on a number of lovers. She refused to share his bed, claiming she felt no desire for him, only reinforcing his believe in her infidelity. She was admitted to treatment of alcoholism several times, but seemed to "fall off the wagon" within a few months of leaving the programs. Lindsey became physically and verbally abusive when she was drunk and the family tried to avoid being seen with her in public.

"As you noticed when we first arrived earlier today, she was already feeling no pain," Fred continued. "She'd been drinking since shortly after breakfast. When I asked her why she wished to come here for Thanksgiving, she told me it was her opportunity to announce she would file for a divorce from me and, I quote, 'give them something to think about. I hated living in that shit-hole country.' She is a vengeful person, even when it is unwarranted. It is the main reason why we stayed in motels during our infrequent visits."

"We had no idea she felt this way," Lettie said softly. "I wish we would've known. There may've been something we could've done to help her."

"Mother," David interceded, "I doubt that very much. I think we, as her brothers, saw her differently than you did, although I never realized how much she hated me and me being a homosexual. Don't blame yourselves, you loved us all and she just failed realize it or return it."

John, holding his wife, hugging her, comforting her in this traumatic session, spoke up. "Levi, it's more than just a casual observation to us that David and Mattie love you very much and, if I'm not mistaken, you love them as much, if not more. I beg you to stay and help us try to salvage what we can from this mess we've gotten ourselves into. I've lost a daughter it'd seem and I'd hate to lose a son and, more so, my favorite fishing partner, Mattie."

It was all it took to propel Mattie into his grandfather's arms, grabbing him around the waist and sobbing how much he loved his grandmother and grandfather. I noticed there was no hesitation on their part to return the love or for him to say "even if I'm not really your grandson" as Lindsey expressed to her sons. Mattie was their grandson and damned proud of it!

Lettie, tears streaming in rivulets down her cheeks, looked at me pleadingly, "I beg you to stay, Levi. Allow me to express the love of a mother, grandmother, and hopefully, of a better family life than you've experienced so far."

How could I ignore or refuse the pleading request of such a lovely lady, the mother of my beloved? I carefully removed my hat and my coat, placing them on the bed with my travel bag and noticed, David's eyes tearing up again, hopefully with joy I thought. My word, if I'd thought such a simple gesture would've brought him this much pleasure to cause him to cry, I'd have stripped naked, bobbed my cock up and down a couple of times, turned around wiggling my little butt at him, sending him into ecstasy; hopefully not apoplexy causing him to keel over. Oh, no! The only part of him I desired stiff as a board was currently concealed by his jeans and I would prefer it concealed clear to his black, curlies up my rear entrance.

His hug this time was more of a "my god, I love you" and of possession and pride rather than one of restraint, giving notice and demonstration of his full passion for me. I returned it with the same fervor and desire, to the point I had to hesitate turning to face his parents concerned my own stiffness might be evident to them. Shrinkage occurring, I stepped from his embrace and walked over to his mother, holding my arms out in acceptance of her welcoming and loving embrace.

"It's time," John declared quietly after giving me a warm, securing hug, "we return to the others waiting downstairs."

Fred led the way, followed by Mattie, David and me. Behind me I heard Lettie ask John, "How are we ever going to get through the day tomorrow?"

"Oh," he sighed reassuringly, "you will do just fine, my love. You always seem to find some way to ease our pain and cause me to realize just how much I love you."

I stepped into the living room where the others, less Lindsey, were gathered, with as much gravitas as I could muster. David held on to me on one side while Mattie was attached to the other, as he announced to all present "we were a family" and damned proud of it, even if I had been called a "two-bit whore" in their presence earlier in the evening.

Someone previously cleaned up the mess David made when dropping the plates and had taken the hot foods to the kitchen to keep warm. Those items were now reappearing on the buffet table, carried in by Bill and Linda and Anne and her two sons, Gregory and Dennis.

David again filled two plates and we headed to a small table to eat. One after the other, Joel and Beth, Michael and Anne, Gregory, Dennis, and Bill and Linda all expressed their apologies and distress at the scene earlier, reassuring me Lindsey's behavior and prejudices weren't typical of the Coleman Family.

Two young lads I'd seen previously but not met, stood to the side visiting with Mattie. Words passed between the three of them, Mattie nodded his head, and led them over to where David and I sat.

I stood when Mattie said, "Uncle Levi, these are my cousins, Craig; he's my age and Clayton, he's ten years old."

Both boys were uncertain what they should do or say. Clay, the youngest, his lower lip quivering, embarrassed, sort of choked on a sob. I quickly stepped forward, opened my arms, saying, "I think you need a hug as much as I do, Clay!"

He surely did and held me tight only releasing me when his brother gave him a nudge and took his place.

"Thanks, Uncle Levi!" Clay said.

"We're really, really sorry, Uncle Levi," Craig added.

"So am I boys, but isn't it time we moved on?"

There was no disagreement on their part. They were just as eager as the rest of us to put it behind us. Uncle David received a hug and a kiss from each of his nephews. At Mattie's urging, the three of them hustled off to attack the food table. Plates piled high, they sat near the fireplace, eating and visiting. I thought, from their actions and the way they looked at us, then Fred, and finally their grandmother, they were plotting something.

Sure enough, it wasn't long until Fred approached us. "The boys are suggesting, if it's okay with you guys, they ride home with you instead of flying. I could drive up from Cedar Rapids and bring them home Sunday and relieve you of your burden."

"No problem!" David responded. "Be more than happy to bring them home. It'll give them more time to spend with Mattie. They really don't get much of an opportunity. But, Levi and I can just as easily drive them home. I think you have enough on your plate already."

Well, that was decided, as well as the night's sleeping arrangements. Mattie, Craig, and Clay convinced their grandmother to let them sleep on the floor in front of the fireplace. Of course, she agreed and prepared pillows and blankets for them. I think she thought, as I did, it'd be better for Craig and Clay not to be burdened anymore with any disagreements their mother and father might have before leaving in the morning.

David was unusually quiet when we retired to bed. I undressed to my usual sleepwear – nothing, and watched as he did the same. There hasn't been a time, since we became lovers and partners, I've not admired his nakedness. I thought he was perfectly formed, not overly muscular, but quite trim and fit with narrow hips and waist. His rather large, long manhood hanging over a silky smooth pendulous scrotum containing two egg-sized testicles was an amazement and joy to me! Amazed, when hard, it'd even fit into my small, slim butt and joy because of the heights of sexual ecstasy he was able to propel me while we made love.

I can honestly say, David never just "fucked" me; no, David made love to me, every inch of me with all his heart and soul. I must've wounded him terribly when I begged him to take me home and announced I'd move out and find another place to live.

As quiet as he was, I was becoming fearful I'd damaged our relationship to the point we'd either repair it or it'd be his decision to have me move out. I now realized if he did, it would be akin to the world ending for me so entwined was my life with his. I shivered, contemplating such an awful fate and existence- an existence without David in my life.

"Cold?" he inquired tenderly.

I couldn't speak in answer to his question. If I did, I'd break out in sobs so I just sort of nodded my head.

Evidently he sensed my discomfort, my regret, and my distress. He put his arms around me, pulling me close to his nakedness. Nuzzling my neck, kissing my earlobe, all actions intended to either forgive me or reinforce his love for me, he bade be to lie down on the bed so he could join me, warming me with his own body heat.

We lay, face to face, belly to belly, cock to cock, my head resting on his upper chest, wetting it with my tears, expressing my shame for acting the way I did and causing him such sadness. I hiccoughed a couple of times before whispering, "I'm so sorry, I've hurt you so terribly David! I'd never move out on you unless you demanded it. I was angry and there was no excuse for me acting the way I did."

I sobbed, "Please forgive me and don't send me away!"

David kissed my forehead and I felt drops of moisture coming from his face to mine and realized I was not the only one sad. Perhaps I was the one causing it again.

"I'd never ask you to leave me, Levi. My heart would be torn from my breast, my tongue cut from my mouth, and my eyes plucked from my head and I'd still not turn you out. I couldn't bear parting with you either. I was so ashamed of my sister's outburst, I wasn't certain I could ever repair the damage she'd done. You'd been broken into shards before by your own family and what she said made me angry. Her anger only increased my love for you, determined if you left, I would leave with you. I would sacrifice all for you, Levi, and our son, Mattie. That's what he is, Levi, our son, our family, our lives – together!"

Words of love and devotion spoken by him in the quiet and privacy of our bed opened my heart and flooded my face and his chest with more tears. Moving up, I cried softly onto his shoulder and he cried softly into my hair. Our tears subsiding, I turned from him, my back to his front and offered myself to his love-making.

On my side, my right leg cocked forward, presenting myself in a position he could enter easily, I felt his hard cock-head nudge my portal and he began a slow, easy insertion. Once deeply seated and I was well adjusted to the large, stiff, familiar phallus in me, he began to thrust forward and back, doing the dance of the ages as one would with his mate. David made love to me; several times during the night, never quite withdrawing until morning came and I pulled away.

I awoke, hearing what sounded like a car leaving or a tractor of some sort. I was somewhat sore in the hind-end, but knew it'd soon dissipate. Donning a tee-shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes, I trotted to the bathroom to relieve my bladder and defecate the accumulated semen David deposited in my rectum during our night of passion.

Delicious aromas were wafting up the stairs when I exited the bathroom, quite the contrary to the odors rolling from it as result of my occupancy of the porcelain pony minutes before. I assumed they were of the kitchen variety and headed in that direction.

I was correct! Lettie was busy in the kitchen. She had two rather large pans of fresh-from-the-oven cinnamon rolls, drizzled with a light powder-sugar icing to accent, not overwhelm, the flavor of the rolls, cooling on the counter.

She spotted me standing in the doorway and, with a wave of her hand in the direction of the counter, refrigerator, and the rolls invited me help myself.

"If you're a coffee drinker, coffee's done. There's cups in the cupboard and cream in the refrigerator if you like it. Pour yourself a cup and I'll get you a roll."

"Yes, mam," I responded.

She continued to work after she served me a huge roll on a plate along with the butter dish, a knife, and a fork.

"David and Mattie like butter on their rolls as well as frosting. I figured you'd do the same. If that's not a big enough sweet roll, help yourself to another one.

I sipped some coffee, buttered the roll, and took a bite. The roll was pure ambrosia! Light, not too sweet, balanced with the perfect amount of cinnamon and sugar, and mouth-watering! I ate slowly, savoring every bite, complimenting her on her status as a chef on about every third bite, as I watched her work. It appeared to be scalloped corn in one dish and scalloped something else in another she was preparing for the oven.

"Scalloped corn and scalloped oysters," she said, noticing my look. "I fix them now and stick them in the oven in time for them to be done before dinner."

It was then I noticed the big range with double ovens. Evidently, with the size of her family they decided it was needed, even now since all were moved away.

"Grandpa is outside moving snow," she explained, "so we can get around easier. Lindsey and Fred are already on the road heading back to Iowa. The boys are still asleep in front of the fireplace. They didn't even budge when Grandpa re-kindled the fire."

I noticed, as she spoke to me, she referred to John, her husband, as "grandpa" not John as I thought she might considering I was a relative stranger to them. She poured herself a cup of coffee and joined me at the counter, sitting across from me.

"Now, really," she asked, "how did you and David meet and why the carnival? I asked him, but he can be pretty closed mouth sometimes."

Personally, I didn't think so when he had his lips wrapped around my hard cock and his tongue working magic on the head and tip, but thought I really shouldn't comment on that.

I figured she may as well hear my story, so I began with my childhood, being raised in a conservative, xenophobic household, my defiance, my estrangement from my family, exiled within my own home, and forced to live on the charity of others. I made note to her the generosity of the super market where I worked in providing meals, the churches, the thrift stores, and my cousin Claire all making my life somewhat tolerable. I was determined to go to college, something my parents saw no use for, and my cousin, Claire's older brother, offered me a job working in his popcorn wagon during the summer carnival and fair season.

Well, I didn't reveal all to her, just the highlights leaving out the more detailed parts such as Alan raping me. No sense in baring my soul to those I just met. I'm not all that trusting a person to begin with. Experience has taught me caution! David, now, that's a different matter altogether. I've bared everything before him and under him and he found no flaws. Well, maybe one or two, but even the smallest one rises to the occasion without a great deal of encouragement.

"I was working the carny circuit when I met David and Mattie."

I didn't mention their working names were "King" and "Cracker." Perhaps she already knew that, but in case she didn't I didn't think it was my place to enlighten her.

"Just how did you meet at the carnival?" she pressed further.

I was rescued, by chance only and not by design, when John stomped in from the outside, knocking snow from his boots and heavy winter coat before coming into the kitchen, wondering if there was any coffee.

"The lane and parking area are all cleared," he announced, pouring himself a cup of java, "and the County has the main road plowed."

He settled on a stool next to his wife, coffee in one hand and a sweet roll in the other.

"How are you doing this morning?" he enquired, looking at me.

I dared not tell him more than fine even if my asshole was tender and somewhat sore, so I answered simply, "Fine, and you?"

"Oh, I've been better, but we'll all recover, won't we Grandma?" and gave her a peck on the cheek, leaving a bit of sticky cinnamon where his lips contacted her. She smiled, wiped it off, and smiled affectionately at him.

"I just wish Lindsey wouldn't have made such a scene, but that's sometimes typical of her."

Lettie nodded her agreement, adding, "I hope she gets some treatment again and this time sticks to it."

"Don't hold your breath," David added laconically as he walked to the coffee maker, poured himself a cup, added some cream, sorted out a sweet roll, buttered it, and joined me at the counter. "According to Fred, she lasts about three days or so before checking out. Not very encouraging history."

"She always somewhat contrary," John responded sadly and regretfully.

I learned, listening quietly, as David visited with his folks, Lindsey, as the only daughter, was spoiled rotten and if she didn't get her way, she's throw a real shit-fit. When David came along, it only got worse. She was extremely jealous of the new baby and saw him as interfering with her life, forget Joel was younger than her as well, but she seemed to have a special enmity toward David. Nine years older than him, she was in fourth grade when he was born. Lindsey seemed to change even more as she progressed to and through high school.

Fred Simons was not her first marriage, there'd been one before him, but it only lasted about a year before she decided to end it. She met Fred while visiting a cousin in Cedar Rapids, claiming to have met him in the hospital emergency room where he was on duty as a doctor, after she sprained an ankle. The courtship was short and the marriage performed by a justice of the peace. Their oldest, Craig, was born about seven months after the marriage. John suspected the baby wasn't Fred's since the two boys were similar in appearance, but seemed to resemble the Coleman's more than the Simon's family.

Fred Simons is ten years older than Lindsey and evidently was either smitten or trapped by her. She was intrigued by his position and interested in his money, David conjectured. He thought she never really loved him, only loved what he could provide, deciding to find her marital pleasures elsewhere.

Certainly different than David and me. I really love him and really, really do love what he provides me – and I don't mean money!

Lettie changed the subject, returning to her question just exactly how David and I met. For some reason she was fixated on this, seeking the answer no matter what. Whether or not Lindsey's escapades and her hasty marriage had anything to do with it, I didn't know or really cared to speculate.

"He rescued Mattie from a stampeding herd of ponies which escaped from their harnesses and tethers to the whirligig contraption the owner hooks them up to in order to provide rides to youngsters, tossing small children like rose petals at the end of bloom, amidst the cries of distraught parents and sobs of youngsters sorely disappointed their rides should end so abruptly as the ponies dashed through the hordes of people on the carnival grounds, and received my undying gratitude."

"Oh, my gracious," Lettie muttered affectionately, "such a bunch of poppycock."

"More like a load of bullshit," John offered.

"Well, why couldn't it been so?" David offered with a smile as he nibbled on his sweet roll.

"Don't believe him, Grandma," Mattie announced, now up and about, sans clothes except for his boxer shorts- thank god!

"We met Uncle Levi at breakfast in the breakfast tent one morning and for a minute I thought he must be covered with buttered sweet rolls the way Dad was grinning and licking his lips. Didn't take him a second to invite Uncle Levi to join us. Made me happy and him too."

"Well," Lettie reacted with a grin, "Thank you, Mattie for coming forward with the truth finally. I have the very devil of the time getting anything from your father. Been that way ever since he began to talk. I was fearful you'd say they met at some tavern, in the restroom or the shower house at the carnival. We've had enough hasty weddings haven't we Grandpa?"

John nodded his head in agreement, yet his face showed a great deal of skepticism concerning Mattie's tale.

Listening to Mattie's partially truthful tale, I couldn't help but notice this was the first time since I've known them I heard Mattie refer to David to "Dad" rather than "Poppa." I also noticed he was growing taller and developing into a handsome, young, trim, teenager, with a faint, but noticeable dark mustache above his upper lip. I also didn't think it'd be proper to point out two men couldn't marry since it was against the law, although David and I did consummate our union numerous times.

Mattie, mouth now full of sweet roll, garbled out, "What can Dad and Uncle Levi do to help getting breakfast and dinner while I get dressed?"

He chuckled as he darted from the room and up the stairs to our room where his clothes were.

"That was sweet of Mattie to volunteer you and David to help me with preparing breakfast and dinner. Anne, Michael's wife," she added for my benefit so I'd be certain who was married to who, "and Linda, Bill's wife, helped me yesterday with pies, salads, and baking."

"So, what's for breakfast, Mom?" David spouted quickly. "I'd like to get started. People will be up and about shortly."

Okay, David just volunteered to assist with breakfast so I thought I may as well do dinner.

"Sausage links, bacon, scrambled eggs, fruit, already in containers in the pantry refrigerator, juice, and pancakes, which Grandpa will do. Get down the Nesco's to put cooked food in to keep hot for serving."


"So, what do you want me to do?" I queried since it sounded as if David would have his hands full with breakfast instead of having his hands full with my most private parts. Far be it from me to not pull my weight.

"Know how to peel potatoes?" Lettie asked, somewhat skeptically.

I groaned inwardly, not wanting to exhibit my displeasure at a chore I really didn't like, but answered "yes."

"There's a five pound bag in the pantry. May as well peel all of them."

While she brought forth a large metal kettle half filled with water to keep the spuds from browning as I peeled the potatoes I resurrected from the pantry. Dumping them in the sink, I proceeded to wash them, picked one up, looked it over, and put the potato peeler to work.

"He did that on purpose, you know," Lettie confessed.

"Who? Mattie?"

"No, David! He just hates peeling potatoes. I think he'd rather have his toenails pulled out with a pair of pliers."

I'd tuck that bit of information aside for future reference.

Mattie returned, all dressed, accompanied by Craig in his boxer shorts and the two of them headed for the basement stairs.

"When you come up," Lettie advised, "set up the dining room for breakfast. You know what to do, Mattie."

"Okay," returned an answer in unison.

Clay, evidently awakened by the hustle and bustle, still in his jammies, wandered sleepily into the kitchen, pulled a bar stool closer to me, and lifted his little butt up in it. He sat a moment, yawned, and leaned his head up against my left arm and slipped an arm behind me to keep from slipping off of the stool.

"Good Morning, Uncle Levi," came his soft, tired greeting.

"Good morning yourself, Clay. Are you ready for breakfast or maybe just juice to start?"

He shook his head and sighed deeply. Looking at him, half-awake it seemed, I noticed the fly of his jammies were wide open, his hard, little, circumcised spike poking out sturdily and greeting the world. Even at age ten, I could see definite evidence he'd inherited some of the Coleman genes. No mistake about it!

Picking up a napkin from the counter, I unfolded it, and draped it across his lap, concealing his pride and joy from view.

"Wouldn't want that monster frightening the help would we? All that screaming and shrieking would be certainly distracting." I whispered conspiratorially.

"Why not?" he giggled.

Smiling back, I advised him he really should get dressed before breakfast.

"Will you help, Uncle Levi?"

I was about to say "no" when Lettie said, "Make certain he puts on clean clothes and especially underwear, Levi."

Was there any choice now?

"She always says that," giggled Clay. "I think she knows I don't like to wear underwear."

"Well, we're not going to cause her to get angry at us are we and not feed us breakfast?"


We sorted out clean clothes for him, including small white briefs, learning in the process he really preferred boxers if he had to wear underwear, but his mother bought these and insisted he wear them. Clay stripped out of his jammies, standing naked facing me, his hard, hairless todger sticking up proudly. I made no comment and neither did he, although he seemed quite proud of it and wanted to display it for me. A shy smile on his part and a wink on mine, seemed to satisfy his desires, so he pulled out the rest of his clothes from his suitcase and dressed.

Upstairs, his grandmother set him to work scrubbing celery and carrots, preparing them to be cut into sticks for dinner. Mattie and Craig, finished with setting up the dining room and were similarly put to work, only their job was to cut up the celery and carrots. They zipped right along and then wished they hadn't when they were told to help me with potatoes. Clay, figuring his work was done, just leaned up against me while I worked.

"Looks like you got yourself a new friend," David smiled, looking at Clay. I'm certain he thought, as I did, Clay was lonely and missing his father. I couldn't imagine anyone, except Lettie and John, missing Lindsey, but I could be wrong.

Breakfast was delicious and plentiful! John kept the pancakes coming since Joel's youngsters and Mattie, Craig, and Clay seemed to wolf them down. Food seemed to disappear as soon as it appeared. I jumped in to help David with breakfast meats and scrambled eggs, making certain the containers on the buffet table were full. Once all twenty of us were fed and satisfied, cleanup, including dishes, took very little time with all of us pitching in, except for Lettie and John who enjoyed the relief.

If I thought breakfast was incredibly delicious, dinner, served around two that afternoon, was stupendous, a feast of such proportion and culinary excellence served only at a banquet of the gods. I'd not tasted roast duck previously or scalloped oysters and found them agreeable to my palette, the flavors unique and quite tasty. The turkey gravy, drizzled carefully but liberally over my whipped potatoes and stuffing only served to enhance and accentuate the delicate, yet inherit flavors in each.

The collective array of items on the food table almost overwhelmed my senses. Served buffet style so one wasn't limited to quantity or selection, gave me freedom to load my plate. There were two tables for us to be seated at to enjoy our meal. One, the larger table, was for the adults, plus a booster chair and high chair for Joel and Beth's youngest, and the second for the other non-adults. Termed the "kids" table by Mattie, basically included anyone under the age of sixteen not seated at the adult table.

Conversation at both table was general and sprinkled liberally with praise for the cook and the food prepared. The praise was well deserved and humbly accepted. No mention was made of the disaster from the night before and my melt-down.

The dessert table was smaller than the entrée table, but no less loaded with goodies. There were several varieties of pie, cake, cookies, and bars to choose from. David and I stood surveying the choices and I was trying to decide if I wanted pecan pie, my favorite, and a Rice Krispy® bar or pecan pie and a brownie. Lettie standing near me, innocently asked,

"Are you enjoying our Thanksgiving Dinner here at Spirit View?"

"Oh, my," I began, wanting to express to her this was the best Thanksgiving ever, but I choked up, unable to tell her how much I enjoyed it, loving the food and the family atmosphere. My eyes teared, although I smiled, my lips quivered in the smile, and I could only turn my head and body into David's, embarrassed, again, I was unable to control my emotions. David quickly wrapped his arms around me, holding me in his tight embrace.

"Oh, dear!" Lettie exclaimed, "What did I ever say to upset him so again?"

Mattie spotted my distress as well, left his place and scooted to my side.

"Nothing, Grandma," he explained trying to comfort her as well as me. "I just don't think Uncle Levi ever had such a nice Thanksgiving."

David supported Mattie's conclusion, explaining to his mother I was just overwhelmed with happiness since, as far as he knew, I'd never had a Thanksgiving or any holiday dinner with a family since my own parents and siblings shunned me years ago.

"Such a terrible thing," sighed Lettie sadly, moving to holding out her arms. "Come, let Momma Coleman hug you and help relieve your sorrows."

Turning, reluctant to leave my love, embracing me, keeping me safe, shamed by my loss of control, I nevertheless welcomed her embrace, murmuring a thank you, and adding, "I think I'll be alright now."

I took a deep breath, stifled a sob, stepped from her hug, turned to the silent family members all watching me closely.

"I do apologize, but thank you, for a wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner and the opportunity to share in it with you, David's family. Mattie was correct, I've not been treated to such a warm and welcoming, and I might add, delicious dinner."

Mattie gave me a quick hug and returned to his seat. David chose the pecan pie and a brownie for me and we sat down as well. The rest of day and evening was without incident or mention of my past. However, I was aware Mattie and David did spend some time enlightening family members on it.

After snacking on leftovers for a later than usual supper, we enjoyed conversation and mixed drinks by the fireplace. David made a Brandy Old-fashioned for himself and a mix of red wine and 7-up® for me. I suppose, since I was under the age of twenty-one, it was quite illegal but who was going to call the law? Certainly not anyone present.

Joel and Beth put their little ones to bed and rejoined us while Mattie and the others headed down to the family room where their grandmother had a table full of snacks and treats for them, along with a container of hot chocolate and a package of marshmallows. Our conversation upstairs was light, enjoyable, and informational. I think the family wanted to acquaint me with what David's early life was as well.

According to his older brothers, he was never any real trouble when small, very inquisitive, always asking why, and exceptionally bright. He was nine years old or so when World War II broke out. Lawrence was twenty-two and living in Iowa after finishing college there with a degree in business and enlisted as an officer. Michael was in college and volunteered, ending up in Army Intelligence and Joel was sixteen and in high school, although he enlisted in the Coast Guard after graduation. His older brother, Michael, he claimed, fought the "battle of the Great Lakes."

"Davey decided he needed to contribute to the war effort, but also saw a way to make some money in the process," his father offered. "He's a clever one, our Davey is," he stated proudly. "He had a Morgan mare horse, broke to saddle and harness so he traveled the countryside with the Morgan hitched to a wagon and gathered scrap metal to sell. People set it out for him and he also scrounged abandoned farms, cottages, and properties as well for the metal."

"We always had a big garden," Lettie added. "With the war, we increased its size even though it was just Davey, Joel, John, and me, as well as adding more chickens. Rationing would prove us wise. The chickens were great layers and David thought it was a good idea to take some of the excess eggs to those people, especially the older ones, who saved their smashed tin cans and other scrap metal for him."

David figured correctly, a dozen eggs here or there, would be good advertising and keep people loyal to him. Delivering the eggs, even when not picking up scrap, gave him an opportunity to visit, look around, and pick up on all of the local gossip. The older folks enjoyed visiting with "that nice young man" and spared no information from him. Sometimes more than he really wanted to know, but he listened patiently, intently, and sympathetically when necessary.

In the process, David also discovered properties which might be for sale or someone considering a sale given the war and/or the absence of young men to either farm or maintain them. These prospects he reported to his Dad, the land agent and real estate broker, increasing his list of prospects and possible commissions from the listings and sales.

Was David an astute evaluator even at ages nine and ten? You bet! He'd been his father's sidekick and companion ever since he could toddle and learned much from John's knowledge and wealth of experience. He once suggested to his father if he could afford it, he'd invest in some of the less desirable lakeside properties, such as those in disrepair, poor location, or lack of adequate access since he thought someday people might like to buy them. John heeded his advice and unknown to David, began slowly purchasing some properties. He convinced David he was investing his scrap metal money in "alternatives" to low paying bank savings accounts.

In fact, it was how the access to Big Spirit Lake was established. John purchased a falling down cottage with a one hundred fifty feet of frontage at the end of the lake, tore down the cottage, put in a boat landing and small park and donated it to the township. I didn't know there was one there until this particular Thanksgiving.

David's entrepreneurial efforts continued until War's end, when he was almost fourteen, and he was given the opportunity to work with an older cousin who ran a bear pitch/nickel pitch carnival joint during the summers, traveling Iowa. His other helper decided he wanted to do something else. It'd prove to be David's opportunity to increase his income substantially, and eventually buy the business. It also meant being away from home all summer, returning each fall for school until he finished high school, much to his mother's displeasure.

"I really didn't want him to leave," she confessed, "but I also knew he'd be fine. After all, he was a teenager and seemed to have the 'Midas Touch.'"

Indeed he did, everything he seemed to touch turned to money. As Joel put it, "he could fall into an outhouse and come up with gold watch in each hand."

So David trooped off to Iowa and set his own path after that. He continued the carny circuit after he purchased the business, decided to go to college in Cedar Falls, sold real estate for Lawrence who, after the war settled in Waterloo and set up shop, lived with them until he purchased the house in Cedar Falls, and finished college.

I thought, after listening to everything, it pretty much brought me up to date on David Coleman. I was wrong!

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