Brian and Lanny Go to Europe

by Nick Brady

Chapter 7

Brian woke up at six o'clock in the morning to an empty bed. Sitting up, he looked around the room to see Lanny sitting by the window staring intently at his cell phone. "You're up early. What's our plan for today?"

"Good morning sleepyhead. I'm looking some things up on the internet. We need to make a plan," Lanny replied.

"You're the tour guide. Give me a minute and I'll be right with you."

Brian went to the bathroom and returned a few minutes later with an empty bladder and damp hair. "OK then. What have you come up with for today?"

Lanny frowned at the screen of his smart phone. "We can stay here another day if you like. Certainly there are other things to see in Paris. We should go see the Cathedral of Notre Dame while we are here, and there are other museums as well."

Brian nodded thoughtfully. "We could do that. So is that what you want, or is there a plan B?"

Lanny glanced up with a smile. "Plan B would be to move on to something else. There is something I have always wanted to see."

"What's that?"

"Have you ever heard of Neuschwanstein Castle?"

"I can't say that I have. Where is that?"

It's in the Bavarian part of Germany, near Fussen. You know what the Disneyland castle looks like?"

"Sure. I have never been to a Disney park but I know what it looks like from TV."

"Well, that is fashioned after a real castle in Bavaria. I always wanted to see that. We want to go to Germany next anyway, and I thought we might start there," Lanny looked up hopefully. "How does that sound?"

Brian shrugged. "That sounds fine to me. Our time together is turning out to be the best part of the trip. I don't really care where we go."

Lanny flashed Brian a smile. "Actually, I feel the same way. If we want to do this we need to hustle. The connections are sort of complicated."

Brian pulled up a chair and looked at Lanny's phone. "So how does this work?"

Lanny started to scribble notes on a scrap of paper. "We need to hurry and get out of here to catch a shuttle bus to Charles de Gaulle airport at 6:50. There is an Air Europa flight that leaves at 7:55 and will get us to Munich about 10:00 a.m. From there we can take a 12:00 bus to Fussen and arrive about five o'clock. That's kind of late to do much, but if I book a room in advance we should be OK."

"You have this all worked out. I'm with you partner."

"We have already paid for this room. All we have to do is drop the key off at the desk and we are out of here. Let's pack up and go."

They hustled over to the shuttle terminal and caught the bus. As they rode to the airport, Lanny fleshed out his plan. "I booked a room for us at the Pension Albrecht. It has a king sized bed if that sounds OK. It is close enough to the castle so that we can hike up there from the hotel."

"That sounds great. A king size bed sounds interesting," Brian grinned.

"I thought you might like that." Lanny smiled. I put the plane tickets on my card. You can pay for the room and we will be about even."

"So where is Fussen? My knowledge of European geography is pretty thin."

"Fussen is in southern Germany not far from Switzerland. We will be near the Alps. It should be beautiful there."

Brian grinned. "That sounds great. I like it that we are sort of playing this by ear. Every day is a new surprise."

They held hands and looked out the window as they passed across France and into Germany. The terrain grew rugged as they flew east. When they landed they went to the baggage claim area to fetch their big backpacks then sat to wait for a shuttle to take them to the bus terminal.

As they waited the both noticed a very blond young man who seemed to be looking at them. When they met his eyes, he smiled, nodded and stepped closer to them.

"Hello. Are you American?" the young man asked with a friendly smile.

"Yes we are," Lanny replied. "Does it show?"

"I meant no offense, but your clothing is not European. I am Fredrick. Are you traveling together?"

"Right. We are trying to see as much of Europe as we can before out money runs out. We are waiting to catch a bus to Fussen so we can see the Neuschwanstein Castle," Brian told him. "Where are you going today?"

Fredrick broke out in a broad smile. "That is very interesting. I am here only to drop off my grandmother for a flight to Berlin. My plans for today are the same as yours."

"You plan to see the castle?" Lanny asked.

"Yes. I have lived in Munich all of my life but have never been there. I am on a break from school and want to see it," Fredrick explained. "I have put it off for long enough I think."

"You are a college student? Where do you go to school?"

I am will be in my second year at the Technische Universität München, that is the Technical University of Munchen or TUM for short. It is a good school. It is too big I think - almost 40,000 students, but I like it. I am studying Computer Engineering." Fredrick smiled, "And you?"

"I have started pre-med classes at the University of Oklahoma in Tulsa," Brian told him. "My plan is to be a Pediatrician. At least that is my current plan. That is a long road."

"Oh how interesting. I wish you luck with that. And you?" he turned to Lanny.

Lanny shrugged, "Really, I don't know. I think I want to do something in the arts – paint, sculpt. But I have not decided for sure. That is why I wanted to take a gap semester and come to Europe. I am hoping that something will gel in my mind about what I want for my future. I sort of talked my friend Brian into coming with me."

"So where have you been?" Fredrick looked genuinely interested.

Lanny tried to explain, "We started out in Edinburgh then went down to London then to the Normandy region to see the beach where the invasion took place. That was very moving. From there we went to Paris and now to Germany. As Brian said, we will travel until our money runs out."

"How fortunate you are to be able to travel like this as friends."

"So will you take the same bus to Fussen?" Brian asked.

"No. I have a car so I will drive there. It is not so far."

"Where will you stay in Fussen? Or do you plan to come back later in the day?"

"I don't know," Fredrick laughed. "I might drive back tonight but that will be late. Maybe I will find somewhere to say. What will you do?"

"We have booked a room at a Pension that is close to the castle."

"You are more organized that me," he laughed. "But I can find something I think. Um, if we are going the same way, would you like to ride with me in my car? It will save you both money and time, and it is nicer than driving myself alone."

Brian and Lanny looked at each other. Fredrick looked like a good fellow. Nothing about him raised any alarms for either of them. Brian shrugged, "That would be an offer we can't refuse. Do you have room for our packs?"

"Yes of course. It is a pretty big car. It belongs to my grandmother. I can drive it while she is away" Fredrick explained. "I will be happy to have some company."

Lanny took a moment to cancel their bus to Fussen then they followed him to the parking garage.

"This is very nice of you," Lanny said. "We were lucky to meet you."

"Yes, lucky for me too I think."

"Your English is wonderful," Brian told him. "We are a little embarrassed to speak only English. We have to look everything up in a phrase book to get by at all."

"Don't feel bad. When you are surrounded by only one language it is not necessary to learn another. I learned English in my school, and speak a little French because we are not far from a French speaking area. It was convenient for me to learn these things. It is not so important for you. As long as we can talk to each other, the language is not important."

When they got into the parking garage, Fredrick led them to a very large black Mercedes and popped open the trunk. "Here is plenty of room for your packs. Is that all you have?"

"Yes, that is everything except these little shoulder bags," Lanny told him. They stowed their packs in the trunk then got in the big Mercedes.

Brian sat in the back and insisted that Lanny sit up front. "It is better for you to sit up front. You have more of an idea where we are going than I do."

"I have the address of the hotel is all. We will have to use the GPS on our phone to find it. We keep our cell phones and passports in these little rucksacks everywhere we go. They have our important things – a little money and our passports. We are never parted from them," Lanny explained to Fredrick.

Lanny and Brian looked with appreciation at the beautiful Mercedes with its nice instrumentation and leather seats. "This is really a fantastic car. I didn't know that Mercedes made cars like this," Lanny observed.

"This is a Mercedes S Class. I think they sell these in America but they are rather expensive. It is very nice to drive – very smooth and powerful," Fredrick smiled. "My grandparents are rather well off. It has many safety features, it will even park itself. My grandmother likes that."

Fredrick pulled out of the garage and found the right autobahn to take them to Fussen. "That's a good idea to keep your papers securely. I have my passport in my pocket. Here it is important to keep that safe. It is not like that in America I think. Do you need papers to go from one state to another?

"Not a passport. It is important to have some sort of a photo ID, but almost everyone has a driver's license or something like that," Brian explained. "Have you ever been to the US?"

"No, but I want to go so much! I would like to travel all over America. There is so much to see there."

"There are hostels in America, or cheap hotels, especially in the tourist areas that you probably would like to see," Lanny told him. "We don't have nice passenger trains like you do, but there are cheap airline and bus tickets. You could do it."

"So, you are on holiday from your college studies?"

"We are skipping a semester of school to travel," Brian said. "We will start back to school after the fall semester. I will be in Tulsa and Lanny will be.... I don't know. Where will you be, Lanny?"

"I said that I haven't decided yet, but I think it will be in Tulsa. Probably at the University of Tulsa, or maybe just Tulsa Community College for some required courses that will transfer to other schools."

"So you have decided to stay in Tulsa?" Brian asked with a smile.

"Yes, I think so. I have a friend in Tulsa that I would like to keep in touch with," Lanny grinned.

Brian returned his smile without comment.

"How did you meet? Have you been friends for a long time?" Fredrick wondered.

"We went to high school together but really have only become good friends since this summer. We have a lot mutual friends," Lanny explained.

Fredrick glanced at Lanny with a smile. "I think you must be very good friends to travel together like this."

"I hope you will not be offended if I ask this," Fredrick glanced at Lanny, "But are you just friends or also boyfriends?"

Brian was surprised at the abruptness of his question. "Why would you think that?"

"I'm sorry if I offended you. But two friends traveling together – it is something that I wonder about. And when I first saw you in the baggage area you were holding hands. I thought maybe you were more than just friends."

Brian laughed, "I forgot about that. If you must know, we are a bit more than just casual friends. I hope that doesn't bother you."

"Not at all," Fredrick assured him. To be gay is not so much a big thing than perhaps in America. Certainly not in a big city like Munich. Since I have been so bold to ask about that, I should admit to you that I am gay also. I have many straight and gay friends. It is not so important here. If I am a good person then the rest doesn't matter so much to most people. At least not to people my age."

"Is that why you offered to give us a ride?" Brian asked.

Fredrick laughed. "Not really. I might have done that even if I did not see you holding hands. I think mostly it was because I could see that you were American and I wanted to talk to you. I don't have that opportunity so often. I can practice my English and find out more about the United States. Can you tell me, where is Tulsa? I think I have heard of it but I don't know where it is."

"Tulsa is in the northeast part of the state of Oklahoma. It is the second largest city in Oklahoma with about half a million people. Do you know where Oklahoma is?" Lanny asked.

"Yes, I think so. You are on top of Texas, right? The state looks like a cooking pot."

Lanny laughed, "That's right. The narrow part of the state on the west is called the pan handle."

"Is it nice there? What is it like in Oklahoma?"

"The eastern part where we live is pretty nice. It gets hot in the summer, but the rest of the year it is nice enough. Our winters are pretty mild. We will get a little snow, but it isn't bad. There are a lot of nice places to fish, hunt and camp," Brian told him.

"I see. Hiking and camping are very popular here in Germany. I like to do those things with my friends. It costs less money to camp than even to stay in a hostel. Maybe you should try that."

"We brought a tent," Brian told him, "But we seem to visit big places where there is no place to camp."

"Yes I see. Edinburgh, London, Paris - maybe have no place to camp. I don't know. What about Germany? Where do you want to go here? And where do you go next?"

"Yeah, tour guide. I am OK with the castle, but what's next?" Bran asked Lanny.

Lanny laughed. "I'm not really sure what I want to do after the Neuschwanstein Castle. It might be nice to get out of the cities and do some hiking and camping. Maybe Fredrick can advise us."

"Yes I can," Fredrick volunteered. "I know many places that are very nice. When we return to Munich I can talk with my friends and I think we can help you if you like."

Lanny looked at Brian, "I don't know what we want to do after today. We had not planned to go back to Munich. On the other hand, we had not planned to not go to Munich. Really, we haven't looked that far ahead. We are sort of winging this."

"Well, you can think about it and tell me what you want to do. If I can help you I will be happy to do that."

"Actually, that sounds good to me," Brian replied. "We just might take you up on that."

They drove quickly to the town of Fussen, arriving much sooner than the bus. "Where is your hotel?" Fredrick asked. "I can take you there so you can leave those big backpacks."

"I have the address in my phone. It will give us directions," Lanny told him and brought up the GPS to guide them to it. The hotel was just west of the town and they could see the castle from the hotel.

"This is perfect," Brian said. "I think we can hike up to the hotel from here."

They checked in and paid for their first night's lodging and went up to see the room. It was very nice with a balcony that looked out with a view of the castle. After admiring the view for a moment they stowed their packs and went back to rejoin their new friend Fredrick.

"How is your room?" he asked.

"It's really nice. I think we'll enjoy it," Lanny said. "Are you ready to go up to the castle?"

"Sure, but it is a steep climb. I can drive us up there if you like," Fredrick told him.

Brian shrugged, "Why not? I'm lazy and it will give us more time."

Fredrick drove up to the castle and parked in the lot. Lanny went to the ticket booth and bought three tickets for the next tour. "I've got this," he said. "It's the least we can do to thank you for the ride."

"Thank you very much," Fredrick said. "You see, this is a good thing for us all."

There was a long wait until it was time for their tour so they went over to a refreshment kiosk and got something cold to drink. "They have some nice beer," Fredrick told them. "Would you like to try it?"

"No, sorry. We almost never drink alcohol," Lanny told him. "Just some Coca-Cola for us."

"Really? You should try some German beer. It is really wonderful," Fredrick insisted.

"No thank you. Please have some but we will just have soft drinks."

Fredrick shook his head at their foolishness and ordered a local beer to go with the sodas for his American friends.

Lanny had picked up some brochures for the castle and began to read. "This was the brain child of mad King Ludwig II. He was enamored with the music of Richard Wagner. The castle is really intended to be a huge setting for his operas. In fact, much of it was designed by a theatrical set designer rather than a real architect. He bankrupted himself building it in the late 1800's."

He read some more than chuckled. "This says that he was so focused on building this that he ignored the responsibilities of his office and the powers that be had him arrested and locked up. Shortly afterwards he drowned under mysterious circumstances."

"It sounds like they did him in," Brian laughed.

"Yes, that is the story," Fredrick agreed. "The funny thing is that the money earned from this place as a tourist attraction has turned out to be very profitable for the state of Bavaria. Maybe he died too soon."

When it was time for their tour to begin, they went into the main entrance. Everything was very beautiful. The main gate was framed in yellow limestone and the facade around it was in red brick. Within was a large courtyard which led to that part of the complex which was complete at Ludwig's death. The part that remained was never completed. There were elaborate rooms within the palace section that were intended for Ludwig's residence, but in fact, he only lived here for a few months. What was complete was very ornate. Many of the rooms were intended to showcase Wagner's opera, complete with a cave-like grotto and various settings for the scenes from his works. The guide said with a smile that in fact, Wagner never visited the place. There were many towers and spires with steep winding stairs leading up to magnificent views of the Bavarian Alps. It was a fairytale place.

They chattered among themselves and tried to catch what the tour guide said but learned more from Fredrick than from the tour guide. "Although I have never visited this place, it has always fascinated me and I have read much about it," he told them, then added as an aside, "Ludwig never married. It is rumored that he was a homosexual. Isn't that interesting?"

"You never can tell about those guys," Brian laughed.

They were a little disappointed that the castle tour itself only lasted about 35 minutes although they saw a lot in that short time. The views from around the castle were amazing so they did their own walking tour around the grounds. By mid-afternoon they were ready to leave and rode down the hill in the big Mercedes.

"I think I am hungry," Fredrick said. "Would you like to have some lunch now? I would like for this to be my treat."

"Sure, that sounds great. I'm starved," Lanny admitted. Brian nodded his head enthusiastically.

Let's have a late lunch or maybe an early dinner," Fredrick suggested. "I think you would like the Waldwirtschaft am Mittersee. My grandmother told me to go there so I think it is OK."

"Sure, whatever. If it's good enough for your grandmother, I'm sure it's good enough for us," Lanny laughed.

"I think I can find it. It is only a little outside of the town on a small lake. I went there with grandmother one time."

A short drive out of Fussen brought them to a traditional looking German building with a red roof and wooden façade. There was a balcony on top with red geraniums on the railing and a large terrace in front looking over a small lake. They went inside to a large dining room with wood paneling on the walls and ceiling. Fredrick asked to be seated on the terrace and they went outside to a table that looked out on the lake. They were greeted by a very pretty young girl who spoke to them in German. No doubt she wanted to take their order.

Fredrick asked her, "Können Sie bitte Englisch sprechen? Meine Freunde sind Amerikaner."

"Yes, I can speak a little English. So you are from America?" she addressed Brian and Lanny.

"Yes. We have been rescued by our new friend Fredrick. I am Lanny and this is my friend Brian."

"Oh, how nice to meet you. I am Anna. We see American tourists here but most are much older." Her smile was very pretty.

"We are college students from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I don't think you have ever heard of it.

"Yes, I think so, 'Living on Tulsa Time...' She sang a bar from Eric Clapton's old song, generating great laughter.

"Yes, that's right," Brian laughed. "We are from there."

"How exciting to meet you. It is like you are famous," she sparkled.

"Thank you very much. I have never been famous before," Brian almost blushed.

"Well, can I show you the menu?" Anna asked, producing three from under her arm. "And can I bring you something to drink?"

Fredrick interrupted, "Please. You cannot come to Bavaria and not sample some of the excellent beer from this place. Surely I can tempt you to try just one glass."

Brian and Lanny exchanged glances then nodded. "Just one as a courtesy to our host," Lanny agreed. Fredrick said something to Anna in German and she smiled, nodded and disappeared, leaving them to look at the menus.

"You will have to help us with this, Brian admitted. "We don't know what any of this is."

"I think that you would enjoy almost anything here, but let me see what they have. Ah, these are very traditional dishes from this region. Hmm. I have an idea. Let me order three dishes and we can share them if you like. What do you think of that?"

Brian and Lanny nodded enthusiastically. "We have been living on bread and cheese for most of our trip. I think we could eat a horse."

"I see. I don't think they serve any horse meat. Can you enjoy pork or beef? Of course you are joking. Let me choose some things for us."

Anna returned with three large glasses of beer with her note pad in hand. "Have you decided on something?"

"Yes, I think so," Fredrick pointed at the menu. We would like to have the Jagerschnitzle, the Saibling, and Zwiebelrostbraten. And while we wait for that, perhaps three mixed salads. Good?"

"Yes of course. I think you will like that," she smiled and made notes on her little pad.

Very quickly they were served three plates of a nice crisp salad of mixed greens, sliced tomatoes, black olives and a tangy cheese dressed with something delicious. It began to disappear rapidly.

"Oh, this is delicious," They agreed.

Brian and Lanny sipped cautiously at their glasses of beer and found them to be very pleasant. "This is very nice," Lanny admitted.

"Of course. Bavarian beer is the best in the world I think," Fredrick insisted. "Of course I am not impartial."

Soon the entrées arrived. The Jagerschnitzel was roast pork with a creamy fresh mushroom sauce and buttered spätzle, the Saibling was a nice fish fried with almonds and roasted potatoes, and the Zwiebelrostbraten was a thick slice of roast beef also with the homemade spätzle.

"Oh my God. Real food, and it smells heavenly," Brian sighed. "What is the side dish? It looks like some kind of noodle."

"Ah, that is the spätzle. It is a freshly made noodle cooked in butter. I think you will like that," Fredrick told them. "Shall we begin? I think it is not impolite to sample from each plate."

Lanny laughed, "This is what we call 'family style'. Or maybe 'every man for himself'."

Everything was sampled and everything was enjoyed. Brian and Lanny giggled like school boys and Fredrick smiled at their enthusiasm. "We should feed you more often," he laughed.

"Everything is delicious. This is just wonderful," Brian said, "Thank you for the treat."

"It is truly my pleasure," Fredrick assured them. "I would not have had your good company if I had come here alone. I should thank you."

In a surprisingly short time all three plates were empty. "Now it is time for some dessert. A little something sweet to finish the meal."

"I think we are full, but it would be hard to refuse," Lanny agreed.

When Anna returned to clear away their plates, Fredrick asked her for Apfelstrudel mit Eis, Dampfnudel and Kuchen mit Erdbeeren und Sahne, with three coffees.

She smiled and hurried away, returning with the desert plates. They looked and saw a lovely apple dumpling with vanilla ice cream, another dumpling with cherries and a vanilla sauce, and a slice of pound cake with fresh strawberries and heavy cream. For each of them was a small cup of very strong coffee, a bowl of sugar and a small pitcher of cream.

Brian gazed on these with moist eyes. "That is the most beautiful thing I ever saw. I think I am in heaven."

"You should hurry with your spoon or it will all be gone," Fredrick laughed.

All three dishes were place at the center of the table and were gone in a flash. First a bite from one and then another until the plates were clean and the cups empty. They sat back with glazed eyes and looked out over the lake. The sun was low in the sky now and it lit on the forest beyond, highlighting a few trees that were already beginning to turn yellow.

"You are satisfied, yes?" Fredrick asked.

Brian and Lanny closed their eyes and moaned softly.

"Now I need to excuse myself for a moment to find a place to sleep tonight. I can use my phone for that." he began to peck away at his cellphone and shook his head several times. "Hmm, maybe this is not so easy. I might have waited too late."

"What's the problem?" Lanny asked.

"Ah, it seems that a room is difficult to find at this time. Maybe if I try a more expensive hotel." He made several phone calls and spoke in German. The conversations were brief. He pocket his phone and shrugged his shoulders. "It is no matter. I can easily drive back to Munich tonight. I think I will have to say goodbye."

I would hate to see you do that," Lanny glanced at Brian. "That is no way to end such a wonderful day. We have a nice room already. Maybe you could stay with us."

Fredrick laughed loudly. "That is very kind of you, but where can I sleep. I think the room has only one bed, and you should have your privacy."

"Well," Brian said, "It is a big bed. I think we could manage. Do you snore?"

"No, no. That would be too much of an imposition. I can drive back with no problem."

"That is not right. Here, you have been so kind to drive us to Fussen and treat us to the best meal of our lives, and we cannot turn you away. Please accept our hospitality. Surely we can make this work."

Fredrick looked at them and shook his head. "I should say no, but I am enjoying our time together so much. Are you sure about this? I feel I am truly imposing on you. Three in a bed is not customary."

"Maybe not, but what are your choices? It will be late before you get back home, and we are enjoying you too. I think we can all be gentlemen about this."

Fredrick smiled. "You are tempting me. But we have already determined that we are three gay men. Do we suppose we can survive for a night without shame?"

"I think so," Brian told him. I was in the Boy Scouts for a long time and have slept four in a small tent many times. The worst that happened was that I got a knee in my side. I think we can do this. Besides," he said with a smile, "Lanny and I have enjoyed our time together very much since we started our trip. It might be nice to just get a good night's sleep."

"Well if you are sure. I will promise to behave myself."

"We're sure. Consider it decided. You will stay with us tonight and tomorrow we will treat you to a nice breakfast," Lanny insisted.

"Very well, I accept with gratitude. I don't know what your plans are after this place, but if you are serious about doing some camping and hiking, you might like to come back to Munich with me and I can call some friends and perhaps make some plans for a trip into nature. Do you think so?"

"That sounds great. So now the question is, what will we do with the rest of our evening?" Brian said.

"There are many places to go here I think, but most of them involve sampling some of the local beer. Is that something that sounds interesting?"

Now both boys hesitated. "I don't really think so. The glass of beer we had with our meal was very nice, but neither of us drink," Lanny said. "If we have any more of that good beer, we might forget how to be gentlemen."

Fredrick laughed. "I understand. I like a good beer but it will not injure me to go without. Perhaps we can go back to your hotel and just chat about whatever comes to mind. I have a lot of questions about America, and perhaps I can tell you something interesting about this part of the world. I have been to some nice places in Europe. Perhaps we can find something to talk about."

"That sounds like a fine idea. Are you ready to go?" Lanny asked.

"Yes, let me take care of our meal and I will be ready."

"This was a wonderful treat. Are you sure we can't pay for our part?"

"Not unless you will let me pay for my part of the room tonight."

"OK, then please accept our thanks for a wonderful day." They clapped him on the shoulder and went outside to wait for him at the car.

"Do you think this is going to work?" Brian asked.

"I think so. Unless he has fooled us big time, I think he's OK. Just because he's gay doesn't mean he's a sex maniac."

"I wasn't worried about him," Brian chuckled.

"Not me. You're the horn dog."

Fredrick joined them and they slid into the luxurious Mercedes.

They drove back to the hotel and went up to their room. "Yes, this is very nice. The bed is very large," Fredrick noticed. "Maybe there is room for three."

They found a little table in the lounge on the ground floor and ordered tea. "Tell me about America," Fredrick asked. "Is it so difficult to be a gay person there?"

"I am learning that it is different in Europe," Lanny admitted. "I think it depends on where you live. Oklahoma is very conservative and other places are not. Back home we are not very open about such things."

"Well, some people are, but it can be a problem, especially when you are young," Brian told him. "A lot depends on how you present yourself."

"How do you mean?" Fredrick asked.

"We went to a big high school. No doubt there were a fair number of homosexuals, but I only knew a few. It is the guys who are effeminate who have a problem. They can get bullied. The usual thing is to keep it to yourself and blend in."

Fredrick smiled, "So in your school you would not hold hands like in the airport?"

"Not if you didn't want to attract the wrong sort of attention. Some do things like that but they put themselves at risk of being harassed," Lanny explained. "I think it is better now than it used to be, but the easiest thing to do is just to pass for straight."

"Right. Lanny and I kind of knew each other in high school, but it was not until we starting hanging out last summer and talking about this trip that we came out to each other," Brian explained. "Before that we were just part of the same group of friends."

Fredrick nodded. "So it is a big secret for you two? May I ask, who knows about you at home? Do your parents know you are gay?"

"I think so," Lanny said, "although we haven't had a big discussion about my sexuality. I never really had a girlfriend in high school. I had friends who were girls, but not a serious girlfriend, if you understand. Now that Brian and I are friends I think they probably have a good idea that I like guys. I think they will be OK with it. Brian and I have gotten a lot closer on this trip, so we may have to have that talk."

Brian smiled. "I suppose my situation is not very ordinary. I live with a gay couple. They have become my real family since I was about fourteen. They are legally married and everything. I was in a really bad situation and they took me in. They had already adopted twin boys and they are like my younger brothers. They know all about my history and are really great people. So yes, I am out at home, but not really anywhere else."

"That is very interesting," Fredrick nodded. "It is somewhat different in most parts of Europe. It is more accepted I think. Of course there are always people who do not approve, but we have more legal protection and most people are accepting. It is not such a big thing here."

"That is more true now in some parts of America, although Oklahoma is more conservative than most places. I think we are getting there," Lanny predicted, "but it will take some time before we would be comfortable holding hands in public."

"So it is difficult for you there?"

"More so than here, I suppose. But it is more a matter of being discreet than living in fear." Lanny looked at Brian, "I think we will continue to be boyfriends when we get back home, but yes, it is different from here."

Brian took Lanny's hand and said, "I think so. I hope our relationship will continue to grow after this trip. I believe we have discovered that we love each other. I think we have just come to realize that. I do love you Lanny."

Lanny smiled, "And I love you too. I think this will last, at least I hope so."

Fredrick looked almost embarrassed. "And you are willing to share your bed with me? It is almost like you are on your honeymoon. I really should not intrude on your privacy."

"It will be fine for one night. Don't worry about it. Tomorrow I think we would like to accept your offer to go hiking and it will be nice to meet your friends. This will turn out to be a good thing," Lanny assured him.

"If you are certain. I do want to get to know you better," Fredrick smiled. "I want to know more about Oklahoma. All I know is something about cowboys and Indians."

Brian laughed, "Then you will be interested to know that one of the guys I live with is Seminole Indian, as are the adopted twins. They dance in Powwows and are very interested in tribal things."

"Oh! That is very interesting. Can you tell me about that?"

The conversation shifted to the twins, powwow regalia and dancing, and some anecdotes about Samuel and Benjamin. The conversation went on for some time until it was time to retire for the night. They eventually went up to the room and settled in for sleep. They shared the king size bed and slept as friends, but not lovers.

Tomorrow was another day.

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