He shouldn’t have done it. Maybe it was my fault. I started it by coming that day. But I came here for years and had a medium black coffee and two donuts — a glazed curler and a chocolate Bismarck. I certainly didn’t come every day. I love the coffee and watching the variety of people hurry in and out. I haven’t been here for over a year. Seeing happy, cheerful people depressed me. I don’t know why I came this morning.
I got out of bed at 5:30am which unfortunately has become a pattern as I’ve gotten older. I read the Chicago Tribune on my iPad. It was after finishing I decided to come to the donut shop. Maybe I’m beginning to heal. Ryan’s death was a ridiculous, shocking occurrence. I should have seen it coming and done something to stop it. I feel terrible because it was my idea. He worked so hard and I tried to reward him. I let him down.
This will definitely be my last time coming to this donut shop. Tomorrow the mover comes to pick up the few things I’m taking to Florida. I have decided that I’m definitely not coming back. I’ve sold my condo and I’m moving in with Chip. I couldn’t stay in the house that Ryan and I shared.
I first noticed this red-headed Caucasian kid behind the counter. He caught my attention because of his hair and white skin and because all the others servers were dark coffee colored, women with black hair. He was scurrying back and forth from the drive-up window as I waited in line for my medium black coffee and two donuts. I sat at a two-person table away from the main door which was constantly opening and closing letting the cold winter air rush in. He caught me looking at him. I turned my eyes away.
I sat pretending to read a magazine but was sneaking glances his direction. His eyes were light color but I couldn’t tell whether blue or brown because he was moving so fast. His red hair was pushed out of his face but not combed. His pastry skin matched the flour all over his black tee shirt and jeans. He didn’t smile as he rushed back and forth. My coffee finally cooled enough for me to sip and nibble. The tables were slowly emptying as the customers moved on to jobs and school. I felt an urgent need to go to the bathroom. I pushed on the toilet door and it opened. I stepped in and moved quickly to the stool pushing my jeans and underwear down to the floor. A big fart came out but nothing else. I waited for more. To my surprise the door opened and he walked in. He smiled, “Forgot to lock the door. Mind if I pee?”
Embarrassed I didn’t answer as he pushed his jeans down without underpants and stood in front of the urinal. He had a cute ass covered with thin ginger hair. He stood there an unusually long time. I slowly pulled my pants up as he turned to let me observe his long, uncut penis. He washed his hands and pulled on the door handle. He smiled at me, “Next time lock the door.” He was gone.
When I walked out he wasn’t visible. I wondered if I had intentionally left the bathroom door unlocked. I didn’t go back to the donut shop for a while because I was embarrassed. I thought about the kid often over the next few days and wondered if he was a hustler. About ten days later I decided I would go again thinking he had probably moved on since he certainly didn’t fit the stereotype of the donut shop worker. I was wrong. He was doing exactly the same thing running back and forth from the drive-up window. I ordered my medium black coffee and an apple fritter instead of my regular. I moved over to my table and sat down intending not to look his direction. Only minutes later he walked to my table, laid a dirty card down and walked off. The card appeared as if he had it in his pocket for days. It was bent and had a small chocolate smear on the back. Written in block letters was an email address, ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ and ‘I don’t have a cell.’ I looked his way and could see his eyes were red like he’d been crying. He smiled quickly and looked toward a woman calling out an order. I looked at the card. I knew I wouldn’t call because I didn’t need a hustler in my life.
I had recently retired from my job in Elk Grove Village as foreman at a company that made paint color pigments. I had been with the company for twenty-two years. I really liked my job. A few months ago my boss, the owner, called me into his office and said, “George, I have decided to sell the company. The new owners want to move most of the operations to Pittsburgh but will keep the chemistry here. I am afraid your job will be going to Pittsburgh. I have talked to the new owners about offering you and Henry in maintenance a buyout.” I was shocked because I had planned to work until 66 to get full Social Security retirement. I was three years short of that goal. He went on, “Don’t worry they will provide you the money you will lose and help you to invest it to make up the difference.”
“OK, when do I leave?”
“I suggest we make Friday your last day. We will have a going away lunch for you and Henry.”
I was shocked but not totally surprised. I had been aware of the boss’s desire to retire. I had heard that he and his new girlfriend bought a sailboat and planned to sail around the Caribbean. Still in shock I finished a few things and went to Hunters, a bar where ‘everyone knows your name.’ I consciously drank too many whiskeys and almost fell down when I got up to leave. The bartender who I knew well said, “George, you’re not driving. I’ll call a cab.” I was pretty drunk when I got into the condo but was in much worst shape the following morning. I called the office and told them I was sick. There were no questions. Later I took a taxi to pick up my car and managed to get into my car and drive off without going inside the bar.
Friday came and I was jovial as was Henry. We accepted the proverbial gold watch. In our case it was check for a $1000 and a United Airline flight coupon for another $1000. We hugged and slapped backs. It wasn’t until I drove off I realized I didn’t know where I was going. I was alone because my last roommate moved out three years ago. We were lovers for a short time but remained friends. He encouraged me to move out of the Chicago area. But I have lived in the area my whole life and have my friends and my sister to consider. I decided to fly to Florida since it seemed that people my age move to Florida to get away for the harsh winters but I really didn’t find them too bad.
I had the redhead kid’s card even though I didn’t know his name. I finally decided that even if I used some of my $1000 on a hustler it would be fine. I sat at my computer for a long time deciding what to write. I assumed if he didn’t have a cell phone he probably didn’t have a car. My email invited him to have dinner at a diner that was on the bus route that ran in front of the donut shop. The message I finally was happy with read “Dear Ryanred(sorry I don’t know your name), I would like to buy you dinner at the My Time Diner on Elmhurst Road next Tuesday night at 6:00pm. Hope you can make it. George” I hit ‘Send’.
There was no response for three days so I assumed he didn’t want to accept my invitation. But the following morning a message came from ‘Ryanred@aol.com’. The message was ‘Sorry for the delay answering. Couldn’t get to the library to use the computer til today. Like to meet you for dinner but have school on Tuesday nights. Any other nights work for you? Friday is best for me. Ryan.’ I thought how can he be a hustler if he doesn’t have a cell phone, a computer and definitely not a car. Since it was Friday when I received the message I wrote that next Friday would work even though I was flying to Florida on Saturday.
The week dragged because I didn’t have my daily routine. I was retired but really missed my work routine. I did have dinner with my sister and her boyfriend. I brought up the idea of moving to Florida or someplace warmer. They thought it was great idea. I had heard how difficult it is to make new, gay friends when you’re sixty. As we were finishing she grabbed my hand, “George, retirement is supposed to be a time to try new things. Keep me informed. You need a new boyfriend.”
Her last comment surprised me even though I thought she knew I was gay. We had never discussed it. Friday finally came and I arrived at the silver My Time Diner well ahead of our 6pm date. I asked for a booth which was available and waited nervously. He didn’t arrive at 6pm or 6:15. I had to decide soon to order or to leave. I looked toward the door one more time and there he stood. His hair was combed and I raised my hand to signal to him. He walked slowly in my direction and stuck out his hand to shake it. I took it and could feel he was shaking. I said, “I’m nervous, too. Please sit down.”
“Sorry I’m late my truck decided it wouldn’t start. I had to find someone to jump it.”
“I picked this place thinking you might be taking the bus.”
“Logical because I don’t have a cell or a computer. Well, I do have a vehicle but not much of one.”
I said laughing, “This seems a little funny but I’d like to know a little more about you. I have seen the most intimate bits already.”
He smiled, “Yes, you have seen it all but so have I.” We both laughed. We were interrupted when the waitress came with menus and water. Once we ordered I listened.
Ryan started, “I work at the donut shop, but you know that. I go to school at Morton Community College. I deliver pizza four nights a week. Other than that I don’t have much of a life.”
“What are you studying?”
“I’m trying to get certified as an airplane mechanic. It takes a lot of time and money. Neither of which I have much of.”
“Where do you live?”
He hesitated, “Well, right now I live in my truck. I know that sounds weird but I am only making enough money to pay for school and the gasoline for my truck. I know you wonder where I shower. I have that covered. For $5 a month I have a resident pass to the park district pool. I go there. ” The more answers he gave the more questions came into my mind.
“How long before you get your certification?”
“God only knows. I can only take one or two courses a time. My grades aren’t so good ‘cause I can’t study. I really want to be a pilot but that’s almost impossible unless you have lots of money. Being able to work on planes seems to be the next best thing.”
“Did you grow up in the Chicago area?”
“No, I’m a military brat from no place. I’ve been on my own since I was 15 when my goddamned father caught me shagging a guy in my truck. He threw my stuff out on the front lawn and told me not to come back. I didn’t. That was in Missouri. I stayed with my grandma for a while. She didn’t tell my dad or he would have had a shit fit. That allowed me to finish high school with a diploma. I knew I had to have that if I ever wanted to be a pilot.”
As dinner progressed I volunteered that I was flying to Florida for a vacation but would be back in a couple of weeks. We agreed to get together again. I was so tempted to invite him home but decided against it.
He preempted my decision with a question: “Do you want me to drive you to the airport tomorrow?”
“Don’t you have to work?”
“What time’s your plane? I get done at the donut shop at 11:00 and don’t start delivering pizza until 3.”
“For God’s sake what time do you start work?”
“I get there before 6am. I have a safe place to park about a mile from the shop.”
“I could use a ride but I must pay you. I’ll accept your offer if you agree to come home with me. I have a comfortable couch. That way you can shower and do your business before you go to work.”
“Shit, that’s great. But, man, I got to git up so early.”
“No problem, I’m an early riser.”
He smiled and said, “Lead the way.” I told him the address. Since my place was close to the donut shop he had a good idea where I lived. Driving home I didn’t know what to expect so decided to take things as they came.
He parked his scarred red Ford Ranger next to me. He got out and slammed the door. He had a small Walgreen’s bag in his hand. He said holding the bag up, “My bathroom stuff. Do I need to bring my towel?”
“No I have towels and lucky for you I cleaned the bathroom today.”
Once inside I turned on the lights. He stood moving from one foot to the other until I suggested he sit on the couch. He returned, “Could I use your toilet I need to go.”
“Sure, go ahead. The john’s across from my bedroom.” He walked into the dark space and was gone for a while.”
“I feel much better. Needed to dump in the worst way. Too much information, sorry.”
“Do you want a beer?”
“No, I don’t drink because once I start I can’t stop. It’s better if I don’t start.”
“Coffee, soda, water?”
“Just a glass of water with ice.” Ryan followed me into the kitchen and started asking questions. He wanted to know about my work; why I was traveling to Florida and when I’d be back. About 9:00 he said, “Mind if I shower. Tell me where I’m supposed to sleep. 5am comes around pretty fast.
“You’ll sleep on the sofa. I’ll get you a pillow and sheets. I have extra pajamas if you want them.”
“No if it’s OK with you I will sleep commando. I love to sleep without clothes but as you can image I don’t get much chance to do that right now.”
“It’s fine by me. I keep the place cool because I sleep better that way.” I got up to find the pillow, sheets and towel. When I returned he was undressed except for shaggy, faded boxers. When he shed them he smiled, “Now you see it all. Red hair from head to toe.” He flipped his uncut penis nestled in a bed of rusty red pubic hair.”
I smiled and loved every minute of the show. He trotted off to shower, shave and brush his teeth. When he was finished he came up to me and asked, “Can I give you a ‘thank you’ hug?”
I gladly accepted his hug and he got under the covers. He was asleep before I got all the lights turned off. I didn’t sleep much because I was trying to decide if I should let him stay in the condo while I was gone. There was really nothing he could steal if he was inclined to do so since I was taking my laptop with me.
It was still dark when I heard the toilet flush and the front door close. I fell back to sleep until well after 9am which was completely unlike me. I had coffee and cereal before finishing my packing. About 11:15 Ryan knocked on the front door.
After a quick, unexpected hug he said, “Ready to go?”
Before I answered him I said, “Ryan come over to the table and sit down.” He seemed apprehensive but followed my direction. “How would you like to live here while I’m gone. I still have a land line so I could call and check to make sure everything is going OK.” I could tell he was totally surprised.
“God, man, that would be fantastic. I’ll keep it really clean. Could I have my friend, Jimmy, come over? We won’t mess anything up, just watch TV and stuff.”
“I hadn’t thought of you having guests but I guess as long as you guys don’t party.”
“He don’t drink either. He delivers pizza like me. We keep each other away from booze and drugs.”
“Here are the keys. Not much in the refrigerator but eat what you can find.” We walked out to my car and I told him to get in the driver’s seat. He did and started up my ten year old Acura. After adjusting the mirrors he pulled away from the curb. I asked, “What time are you likely to be home if I decide to call?”
“Friday night and Tuesday night I don’t deliver. Those are probably the best times.” I rode quietly as he drove down Higgins Road taking the back way to the airport. I got out at O’Hare at Terminal One and he pulled away. I wondered if I would see my car again.
I had a good time exploring Florida from Tampa north to Daytona Beach. I called Ryan. He answered the phone after two rings and said, “Hello, George, having fun?”
“Ryan, it’s really nice in Daytona. Not much gay life.”
“Yeah, but it’s where I would die to go to college. It’s got the best aviation maintenance program in the world. Did you go over there?”
“To be honest, Ryan, I did drive to the campus. It is really impressive. You never know they may have scholarships.”
“Too much to dream about.”
“How’s it going there? Has your friend, Jimmy, been over?”
“Yeah, he’s here right now. Do you want to say ‘Hi’? There was silence for a few moments. I assumed he was encouraging Jimmy to speak to me.
“Hello, Mr. Welsh. Thanks for letting me come here. Ryan tells me you’re a super guy. He told me how he met you.”
I felt myself blushing and said was, “Jimmy look forward to meeting you.”
Ryan came on, “George is it OK if Jimmy stays with me a couple of days? His dad is on a binge drinking spree. His old man is beating him up when he comes home.”
“Sure, it’s OK. Has he told the police?”
“He won’t do that ‘cause his dad will kill him.” After a few other words we said, “Good-bye.”
The next day I drove to the Space Coast and took a tour of the Cape Canaveral Space Center. The following day I explored Disneyworld’s Epcot. The time was well spent even though expensive. I drove on to St. Petersburg where I stayed in a renovated St. Petersburg B & B. I liked the quiet atmosphere and the guys I met. Instead of driving the 150 miles to Key West which was my original plan I decided to stay in Ft. Lauderdale. I knew it was gay friendly. I stayed at the expensive Grand Resort and Spa for a couple of nights. I had never stayed in a clothing optional place before. It was fun to take off all my clothes and lounge by the pool covered in sun screen cream. I walked the Sebastian Beach to eye what seemed like hundreds of boys in Speedos or thongs. I moved to the Cabanas which was less expensive and found it to be friendier. It was clothing optional like the Grand but more relaxed. I was beginning to really think moving from cold Chicago was a possibility. I called Ryan. After four rings I thought the answering machine was about to come on. Instead a sleepy voice answered, “Hello.”
“You alright, Ryan?”
“Mr. Welsh, this is Jimmy. Ryan is taking an extra shift driving my shift. I got beat up pretty bad and didn’t want people seein’ my messed up face.” All I could think of was the cruelty of a father to his son.
I reassured him that I would be home in a few days and we would discuss what to do. Finally, I asked him to have Ryan call my cell phone anytime the next day since it was my last day to sit by the pool. About 12:30 the next day my cell phone gave it’s cheery little ring tone. I answered and heard, “George, did you hear what Jimmy’s dad did to him.”
“He told me he got beaten up.”
“The fucker, that’s not all. He broke Jimmy’s arm in two places. I made Jimmy come stay with us.”
“That’s fine with me. I feel bad sitting here by the pool drinking a beer and you guys are putting up with this shit.”
“Oh, we’re OK. When do you want me to pick you up.” I told him the flight number but told him to stay home until I called after the plane landed. Fortunately, my arrival time did not conflict with his work schedule. I saw the Acura slowly approach the arrival area. I could see two heads and assumed Jimmy was in the car with Ryan. Ryan got out of the car and hugged me. As I got into the back seat he introduced me to Jimmy who was a scraggly kid with long brown hair. I could see his left arm was in a cast.
By the time we got to my place it was time for them to leave for their pizza delivery routes. After they were gone I looked around and other than a few dishes in the sink things were in order. Ryan mentioned that he had done the laundry the day before so the sheets were virtually clean. I assumed he and Jimmy had slept in my bed. I wondered what we were going to do tonight. The answer became clear when neither boy came to my place after midnight. In fact, I didn’t see Ryan for two days. He knocked on the door when I was having morning coffee. When I opened the door I could see he had been crying. He walked in and hugged me differently. I held him close as he continued crying. “What happened?”
“His father found him and forced him to go home.”
“Where were you?”
“Our trucks were parked in our regular place next to each other. How he found us I don’t know. He dragged Jimmy out of his truck and slapped him really hard. Jimmy was screaming that he was hurting his broken arm. I couldn’t do anything. I just stood there like an idiot. I didn’t try to help him.”
“This has gone on long enough I’m calling the police.”
“Don’t do that. His dad will kill him.”
“Ryan, this man must be stopped or he really may kill Jimmy.” That started a day of conversation with juvenile officers and child welfare people. I found there was little they could do unless Jimmy filed a formal complaint which Ryan thought he would not do. Ryan agreed to try to convince Jimmy to come to my place on his day off and meet with the officers. He arrived frightened with Ryan dragging him into my living room. The two officers could easily see Jimmy was hurting with his bruised face and broken arm. Ryan said, “You should see his back and his butt.” The officers quietly asked Jimmy to lift up his shirt and lower his pants. Ryan did the lifting and the sight caused all of us to quietly gasp.
Shaking like a leaf Jimmy signed a paper formally complaining about his father. The officers asked if Jimmy had a place to stay. I answered, “He will stay here. His father does not know where I live.” Jimmy weakly smiled.
That began three weeks of nervous waiting. Jimmy and Ryan continued to work and go to school. They both looked exhausted but, at least, they had a place to come home to where things were calm and safe. I fixed big meals and encouraged both boys to eat. Jimmy was especially thin but his appetite came back. Jimmy told us that the police had placed a restraining order on his father and told him to report if he saw his father. The police said he would be immediately arrested.
My little one bedroom condo was full with three people’s bodies and laundry. I let the boys sleep in my bed and I slept on the sofa. They were comfortable coming and going to the bathroom with a towel or less. Ryan seemed to flaunt his body which Jimmy constantly tried to flip with a towel. I became more comfortable having the boys seeing my saggy body naked. I picked up the ringing phone one day and it was one of the juvenile officers informing me that Jimmy would be leaving to stay with his maternal grandparents in another state. The officer did not give me many details but asked me to tell Jimmy.
We had become a nice little family and I was reluctant to break it up. Ryan seemed as happy as I had ever seen him. Jimmy was putting on weight and his color was healthier. We had a big event coming and that was Ryan’s eighteenth birthday on May 22. I decided since that was two weeks away I would tell Jimmy in general terms about his leaving but was vague about when that would be. He didn’t seem happy or sad just resigned to his fate. I involved him in helping me plan our party for Ryan. I asked if there was anyone else we should invite and he named two girls and one boy. I tasked him with getting email addresses so we could send them an Evite. Since my place was too small for six people I decided that we would go to the diner where Ryan and I first met.
The night arrived and Ryan, Jimmy and me along with Shella, Margo and Jack joined us for steak, baked potato, slaw and green beans with almonds. Margo was a vegan so avoided the steak. The restaurant brought out a giant chocolate cake with 18 candles flaming. When we all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ Ryan looked as happy and content as I had seen him. He was wearing a clean new orange tee shirt emblazoned with “Always Better Tomorrow.” I didn’t know where he got it. It seemed perfect for our night. At the end of the evening Jimmy announced that he was staying with Jack for the night and would see us tomorrow. I thought it was odd but Ryan didn’t seem to think anything of it.
As we drove home Ryan was crying. I couldn’t figure out why. I decided not to ask until we got home so I could hold him. When we got out of the car he grabbed my hand and pulled me up the stairs. Once inside he didn’t stop. He pulled me with him into the bedroom. I couldn’t figure out what he was doing. He began to undress himself down to his boxers in less than fifteen seconds. He reached for me and said, “Now I’m legal. I want to have sex with you.”
I was shocked. I said, “Are you sure? I’m ready but I didn’t know if you were interested in this out of shape old man.”
“You are the most wonderful person in the world. I have been waiting for this night for months.”
He slowly unbuttoned my shirt and folded it over the arm of the chair. He pulled my shirt from my belt and lifted it up over my head. I slipped my shoes off while he was working on the top. His hands gently loosened my belt, unhooked my pants and slid the zipper down. Needless to say I was hard as a rock. I helped him by stepping out of my pants. He bent down to take off his socks. Finally, he hooked his hands on both sides of my underpants and pushed them down. He was left with only his boxers which were gone in an instant.
He pulled me to the bed, “Lie down, I have to pee and I’ll be right back.” While he was gone I noticed music started softly. When he returned he turned off the overhead lights and lit two small candles on the dresser. He got in bed with me and pulled his face right up to mine. When he reached forward I did the same and our lips touched for the first time. Slowly our tongues touched and swirled around. I could feel his hand cup my right cheek. He kept kissing me which was heavenly. I was as hard as I had been in years and I didn’t seem to soften which had increasingly become my problem.
He slowly kissed my chest and moved down to his prize. He pulled my skin back from my crown and slowly slipped his mouth over. I was so excited that two minutes later he had a mouth full of cum. He smiled and shared some with me. He said, “Now it’s my turn. This may hurt a little cause I bet you haven’t done this in a while.” I thought it’s been more than a while. “Do you want me to use a condom?”
“If you are clean and healthy, I want to feel the real thing.”
“I am.” I could feel his finger touching my most private place. He swirled his finger around before he slipped one finger in. I assumed he had lube somewhere because it went in so easily. Then there were two fingers slowly loosening what had to have been a very tight hole. He lifted my legs high over my head and aimed his manhood toward his goal. Slowly he pushed in and I clinched my teeth. He was skillful and firm. All of a sudden he was violently thrusting, “Shit, shit, shit I am cumming. I wanted to last.” I smiled as he filled me with his sperm.
Well, after a shower we slept soundly next to each other. He didn’t have to work at the donut shop so I had a chance to watch him sleep. His lanky body covered in ginger colored hair glowed in the morning light. I slowly crawled out of bed and fixed the best cup of coffee I have almost ever had. He came in thirty minutes later sporting a major hard on. He said, “Ready for a morning quickie?”
“Sure, but I want you to go slower this time.”
“Me, too.” He said shaking his dick at me. I followed him into the bedroom for a slower, gentler sexual experience. We didn’t hear the door open but there in the doorway stood Jimmy. “Shit what did I miss?” He smiled and neither of us moved to deny his view. He rubbed the front of his jeans and said, “I will go take care of this.”
I said, “Strip and join us. We’ll help you.”
Ryan said, “Let’s see what that little thing of yours can produce.”
“Shut up fuck head. I can beat you for sure.”
Scrappy, smooth skinned Jimmy holding his cast jumped right on top of us. The three of us wrestled until Ryan had Jimmy firmly in his mouth. I was holding Jimmy tightly so he wouldn’t kick Ryan. Within a minute Jimmy was cursing up a storm at Ryan, “I don’t want to come. Wait, wait, oh shit.” We all started laughing and collapsed as Jimmy sprayed us with his sperm. After things calmed down Jimmy said, “Guess what, I leaving for Kansas to my grandma’s on Monday. They’re coming to pick me up. Immediately I sensed Ryan’s mood sour.
“Why so soon?”
“All I know is the social services lady told me my grandmother and her husband would pick up my clothes at my house. They would come and get me here. We’ll leave immediately before my dad gets off work.”
“That’s a bummer. Will you come back for a visit?
“ I’m not taking my car. It probably wouldn’t make it to Kansas. Want to go with me to Car Max and see what I can get for it.”
“Yep, but I’m worried you may have to pay them to take it off your hands.”
“Shut up, fuck head. I’ll get something.”
“After I get off work at the shop we’ll go.”
Most of the night Ryan cuddled against Jimmy and me. I felt like the third wheel. I could hear Ryan softly crying in the night but chose not to do anything. I knew it would be a rough few days after Jimmy left. I was right about the rough part but significantly underestimated the time. Ryan was moping around two weeks later. He managed his sadness by being busy. He couldn’t sit still to watch a complete TV show. He would jump up to go in his room to play video games. Ten minutes later I could hear him showering and then come hurrying out to go to deliver pizza. He was leaving 45 minutes earlier than necessary. One Tuesday night we were home and he was washing the dishes. I called him over to the table, “Ryan, sit down. Your craziness is driving me crazy.”
“I’ll leave if you want me to go.”
“No, no, that’s not it. I know you’re sad that Jimmy left but I am sure he is OK with his grandmother.”
He retorted, “How do you know that? When he was here I could protect him. I just worry all the time that something bad is going to happen to him.”
“Do you want to call and talk to him. Take my cell phone and call him as often as you like. Do you have his number?”
Ryan looked serious and said, “Maybe I’ll do that right now. Yes, his telephone number is on a pad by the telephone where it’s been since he left.”
“Why didn’t you tell me you wanted to talk to him.”
“I didn’t know I did. I just knew I miss him so much. You know we've been through a lot together.” I handed him my cell and he left to make a call. He was gone a long time. I was about to go to bed when he came back and handed me my phone. “Thanks, Jimmy is doing OK. I may call him again this weekend. I feel better.”
Things did get better. Ryan’s frenetic behavior calmed down. I encouraged him to give up one of his jobs but he said he needed the money. I was paying the bills and couldn’t figure out what he was doing with the money. I inquired one day knowing I was stepping into his private space but I was concerned. “Ryan, are you keeping your money in a safe place.”
“Yep, plenty safe.”
“Can I ask you which bank? You work so hard and I don’t want your money to get stolen.
“I don’t keep it in a bank. I like to see how much I have.”
“Where do you keep it? I won’t tell anyone.”
“Every time I get $100 I go get a bill and put it with the others in a hiding place in my truck.”
“I have eighteen thousand, eight hundred.”
“With that much money I feel it would be safer in my bank? We would have them set up an account for you.” He sat quietly with a serious look on his face.
“Can I count my money when I want to?”
“That is probably not possible but you can go online and check how much there is. When you put it in an interest bearing account your money makes money. I would guess your money would earn $200 to $300 dollars annually.”
“And the bank would give me that money?”
“Yes if you need it? For example, if you need money to pay your tuition or car insurance you go to the bank and they give you a check for the amount you need. You leave the rest there. It’s safer than your truck.”
“OK, I’ll do it. I have been worried that someone might take my truck and my money.”
“I suggest you go out to the truck, get the money and we will hide it inside. On Tuesday after you get finished work at the donut shop we’ll go to the bank. Make sure you take your driver’s license.” The crazy boy went to his truck in his boxers, tee shirt and flip flops to retrieve the stack of bills. He closed and locked the door once he returned.
“Where do I hide it?”
“How about the locked box I have hidden in my closet.”
The following Tuesday we went to the bank and opened his account. On the way home we stopped for a burger and fries which I paid for. That rarely happened because Ryan insisted on paying for himself. Even though we slept in the same bed our lives were quite separate. I knew the school term was ending and asked how it was going. He said, “I think I’m getting an “A” in algebra and a “C” in English.”
“Are you going to summer school? How many credits do you have? Will they all transfer?”
Ryan looked puzzled, “What do you mean transfer?”
“If we move you would be able to apply the credits you’ve earned at another college most of the time.”
“Are you moving?” His facial expression told me he was confused or concerned.
“You know I have been thinking about moving to a place that is warmer like Florida. I haven’t made any decisions. I’ve been waiting until school was out to talk to you. Don’t you want to go with me?”
“Sure, but I didn’t know if you wanted me to.”
“I wouldn’t leave you without a place to live. For sure if you want to move with me I want you to. Have you every checked out Embry-Riddle online?”
His face dropped, “Yes, I could never afford to go there. It is so fricken expensive?”
“They have scholarships. Maybe you could get one. I bet with you credits from Morton you could graduate in three years.”
We talked some more as we drove home. Once we got in the door Ryan said, “You want to have sex?” He didn’t have to ask twice because he rarely had time.
“Follow me.” We stripped off our clothes and he grabbed my hand and led me to the shower. He soaped me. When I tried to reciprocate he pushed my hands away. He spent much time on my butt crack so I suspected what he wanted to do. He turned off the water, turned me around and nuzzled his mouth toward my asshole. I could feel his warm tongue touch me as he reached around with a soapy hand to grab my extended member. I didn’t move but my vocal noises told him I was enjoying what he was doing. He stood behind me and pushed his rock hard member into my soapy butt crack and I could feel him enter. I spread my legs to help him. His slender, curved dick touched my prostate and I jumped. He did it again and I jumped again. The movement of his hand on my dick was getting me closer and closer. My hole clinched him and I shot a couple of good squirts. He kept pumping and finally with a low moan came. He was holding me so tightly that I was having trouble breathing. I smiled to myself as I thought about his question: ‘Do you want to have sex?” We didn’t have sex, he had sex and I was just along for the ride. I didn’t mind at all.
Sitting on our patio I am happy watching Ryan splashing his friends in our pool. The boys are handsome, muscular guys with varying amounts of hair glistening on their bodies. As Ryan ordered, no one is wearing a swimming suit. Ryan’s decision about no suits was made even before we moved into our house in Daytona Beach three years ago. After Ryan and I started our discussion about Embry-Riddle and Daytona Beach things moved quickly. He used my cell minutes talking endlessly to Jimmy. I insisted that we buy a family plan and he start carrying his own cell phone. He didn’t object.
I called the admission office at Embry-Riddle and got some basic information to consider. I found out that Ryan could easily qualify for scholarship assistance being that he was sole support of himself. He was late applying but was able to get the application in with his transcript in time to be considered for the fall term. Fortunately, all of his credits transferred and he had only electives except for political science. He enrolled in the aviation mechanics program.
Ryan worked as much as he could during the summer before we moved to make as much money as he could. That left to me the task of finding us a place to live in the Daytona Beach area. I decided to try to find a place not too far from the aviation campus. I flew down to Daytona on Southwest Airlines on the Tuesday after the July 4th holiday. When I arrived the temperature was eighty-five but the humidity must have been close to 100%. I decided that being close to the ocean rather than the campus was a better option. I contacted the only gay realtor listed on the Gay Florida website. I scheduled to stay five days thinking that was enough time to find a house with a private pool that we could rent. I wasn’t ready to commit to buying in a town I didn’t know. The realtor, Jerry, met me at the airport. He was nice enough and had arranged for me to tour several places. He tried hard to convince me to consider a condo since there were many more to rent. I said since I was leasing for a year I wanted a house. After seeing two places I was discouraged. We went to his office and got on the computer.
He found a new listing in Shore Acres which was close to the ocean. He said the listing said the house was for sale but he suspected that the owners might consider renting. He said few houses had sold in the area. I was skeptical but agreed to take a look. He dropped me at the Marriott. He said he would call the realtor and confirm the availability of the house as a rental. He called and told me we had an appointment at 10am the following morning. When I got in his car he said he had two other places for us to look at. He added the owner’s realtor told him the house was being sold furnished. I reminded him that I wasn’t buying.
We pulled up at 420 Burleigh. The owner’s realtor said he thought the owners would rent but wanted, at least, a year lease. I didn’t say anything until we walked in. The house smelled like it had been vacant for a while. He told us that the house had been on the market for a year and then rented. He said the owners would prefer to sell since it was the home of their parents who moved into an assisted living facility. He added they rented it previously for $1000 a month. I was shocked since I was used to much higher Chicago prices.
The furniture was dated but the master bathroom was updated. The winner was the pool full of green water. I asked him to determine if the pumps and filtration system were in working order. If not would the owner fix them. He made a quick call and found out that the system should be fine but if not the owners would take care of it. We walked through the house which had three bedrooms of reasonable size. I told Jerry I was ready to sign on the dotted line. I said we didn’t need to look any further.
I called Ryan shortly after 11am and told him about the house. He was excited and asked me for the address so he could Google the house. Jerry took me to lunch at the Shore Club and we chatted about Daytona. I quietly asked, “My partner, Ryan, and I are gay. What kind of gay activities exist in the area. His face gave me the answer I anticipated. “Not much.”
“Where do gay guys gather?”
“In Orlando or Ft. Lauderdale. There are some gay couples here. We get together for meals and things. I’ll introduce you.”
“My partner is going to be a student at Embry-Riddle.”
“How young is he?”
“Eighteen going on thirty. I know what you’re thinking. We are like father, more like grandfather and son.”
“So you’re into younger?”
“Not really but it’s a long story. We’re both excited to be coming to Daytona Beach.” That ended his questions. I asked Jerry to bring the lease to the hotel for me to sign. He said he would. I was really happy about the house. I asked him if I could get the key before I left. I wanted to measure for a few things we would be bringing. When he came over he had the key and asked if I wanted to take another look. I did and asked him to check on the pool after the pool service got it cleaned up. I was sure Ryan would want to hit the pool moments after the car stopped.
I flew back to Chicago after three days even though it cost me to change the flight I saved on the hotel. That evening almost midnight I showed Ryan the pictures I had taken with my I-pad. He was excited which made me so happy. The next month evaporated. I rarely saw Ryan who was doing double pizza shifts to make money. We left Elk Grove Village on August 10 to give us enough time to settle in before the fall semester started. Neither of us was sure Ryan’s truck would make it to Florida so he sold his truck. He decided to buy another one when we got to Daytona Beach. We were torn because he didn’t want to spend his money on a truck but I knew he wanted his own wheels. I told him I would loan him the money interest free until he finished school. In his few spare minutes he started poring over internet ads for used cars in the Daytona area. He found several red Ford Rangers a few years younger than his. He said he wanted a red one to replace his truck which he treated as his best friend. I made him promise to look in all his secret compartments to make sure he didn’t leave any money in his old truck.
Other than a few serving pieces, my favorite cooking pans and my super sharp knives we were taking only clothes and our personal stuff. We decided to leave our winter coats in my condo which I wasn’t going to rent or sell. We headed toward Florida after dropping a set of keys at my sister’s house. Her boyfriend, soon to become her husband, said he would stop by my place occasionally when he was in the area on sales calls. I smiled when Ryan asked if we had to pick up his money. I assured him that there were Wells Fargo banks in Florida so they would transfer the account to a branch in Daytona.
Somewhere in Tennessee I asked Ryan, “Will you please wait until, at least, November before you consider finding a job.”
He immediately protested, “If I don’t work my money’s going to run out before I finished even one year.”
I suggested tactfully because I knew how he did not want me paying. “When you’ve used half of your money I will pay for the rest of the expenses for the year.”
“I don’t want you to do that. This is my thing.”
“Well, what if we call my part a loan which you can pay back after graduation.”
He thought quietly for a while before he said, “OK, you know I have twenty-two thousand.”
“I didn’t know exactly but I suspected the money was in the twenties.” He didn’t ask and I didn’t say that all other expenses were mine. Ryan drove my Acura most of the way. He reiterated what his father constantly verbally abused and taunted him before he threw him out. Ryan hadn’t mentioned any other family members until our trip.
He commented in Kentucky and in Georgia that he had lived with his family in these states. “We lived at Fort Benning when I was in the fourth grade. My sister is two years younger and my little brother was about three or four.”
“Do you know where they are now?”
“Yeah, they’re in California someplace. I talked to my grandmother but she didn’t know exactly where. I used the internet and my cell phone to track them down.” I thought this guy should be a detective. He told me it took him two days to find them. He said, “I called the only phone number I could find. I prayed my father won’t answer. Luckily my sister answered and said ‘Wait.’ Moments later she whispered ‘Where are you? Mom has been so worried.’
“Tell her I’m going to college in Florida, that’s all. Do you or Robbie have cell phone numbers? She gave me hers and his. She abruptly ended, ‘I hear dad, got to go. I’ll call so we can talk longer. I haven’t heard from her but I know I will. She’s a good girl. Here’s a roadside stopping place, I’ve gotta pee.” That was the end of the discussion but I was comfortable that I could find his family if I ever needed to.
We parked in the driveway of 420 Burleigh about three in the afternoon on a blisteringly hot August day. The majestic cumulous clouds were boiling in the west. I suspected that rain would start falling any minute. We opened the front door and the stale smell bombarded our noses. Ryan didn’t comment, went directly through the house and slid open the doors to the deck. The pool water was crystal clear. Ryan was naked in a matter of fifteen seconds. He dove in and surfaced quickly. “It’s so cold?”
“I suspect the heater isn’t on.”
Jumping up on the deck he smiled, “I love this place.” The sky opened and the rain poured down but it was over in fifteen minutes. I made several trips to the car. After I unloaded things I opened all the windows to air out the place. Naked Ryan put things away. When I finished opening windows I decided if he was going to be naked so was I.
I found him in the kitchen warming something on the stove. “Found a bag with a few things on the counter. I’m warming some soup. There is cold water and soda in the refrigerator. Who put it there?”
“I suspect the realtor. I’ll call and thank him.” I did call Jerry to let him know we had arrived. I thanked him for the supplies but he said they weren’t from him. I was puzzled and walked back toward the kitchen. I heard Ryan speaking to someone. Standing in front of Ryan was a woman about my age. “Sorry ma'am, I didn’t expect a woman. Let me get a towel.”
“Don’t worry I have five sons. I’m Mrs. Swallow and I live across the street. I kept an extra key for the former occupants. I came over to return it.” Uncharacteristically, I stepped from behind the chair exposing myself. “Hello, Mrs. Swallow I’m George and this is Ryan. He is starting school at Embry.”
“Great school. So you want to be a pilot?” she said speaking toward Ryan.
“My dream, yes. But probably aviation mechanics.”
“Great jobs there. Hope you didn’t mind. I brought over a few supplies.”
“We were just about to eat the soup. Thank you.” Ryan was amazingly cool and said, “Sorry I’m not dressed but I will be next time you come over.”
“Not a problem. It isn’t often I get to see naked men anymore. It’s a nice sight.” She turned and walked out. I smiled at Ryan.
The first two weeks it seemed that Mrs. Swallow was over daily with some goody or neighborhood news. She must have liked seeing us naked because we weren’t dressed very often. One afternoon as she and I sat watching as Ryan floating on a raft in the pool she said, “So what is the story with you two?”
Surprised but calmly I said, “Well, Ryan came to live with me because his father kicked him out because he was gay. He was homeless when I ran into him at the donut shop where he worked.”
“You guys lovers?”
Yes and no. We sleep in the same bed but I think of us more as companions. To be totally honest we do have sex occasionally but that is not a major part of our relationship. I’m being totally honest with you.”
“I appreciate your honesty. It obvious Ryan is happy but there is something more.”
“You bet. Still water runs deep.”
“I thought so.”
“He can get in a mood and be in another world for days. But he’s so far he comes back.”
“You’re a good man, George. Would you let me be the grandmother?”
“I probably need the support more than he does.”
“I want to see this boy realize his dream of being a pilot someday. But we don’t have to hurry with that. Embry students have plenty of opportunities to learn to fly. I’ll go home and get our dinner.”
Ten minutes later she entered with a fully cooked tuna casserole with peas and almonds. Ryan and I both were wearing shorts for one of the first times with Mrs. Swallow who had become Martha. Some nights Ryan cooked and other nights Martha brought something over. School started for Ryan immediately after Labor Day. He had classes or labs every day. He left at 7am and was rarely home before 7pm. He loved his 1998 red Ford Ranger with leather seats. It had a hard cover which kept the debris from the ficus and banyan trees out of his truck bed.
I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough to do once Ryan started classes. Martha took care of that. She invited me to be a fourth in her Tuesday afternoon bridge group at the community center. I was a little rusty but got back into it pretty quickly. She had me playing bridge on Tuesday, canasta on Wednesday morning and pinochle on Friday afternoon.
Even though we had a pool boy every week I decided to keep the yard raked and clean.
I repainted our bedroom so we had to move to the smaller bedroom for a couple of days.
Ryan couldn’t keep quiet when he got home. He told me everything he was doing in this class. He told me about the people in his classes. He beamed when he told me his grades on his first tests. I figured we had made the right decision to move to Florida.
His busyness did not stop his nightly calls with Jimmy to whom he told everything that he told me. Something happened in late October and he stopped calling Jimmy. Martha suggested I ask him. After her constant badgering I asked, “Ryan, why have you and Jimmy stopped talking?”
“The fuck head did it with a girl.”
I knew I had to make a quick recovery, “He’s young and healthy. What do you want him to do?”
“Wanking is good enough for him.” That was the end of the conversation.
When I told Martha she said what I’d been thinking, “Ryan thinks he owns Jimmy, strange.” She and I decided that Ryan should invite Jimmy down over Thanksgiving break. I would tell Jimmy that his airline ticket was my Christmas present. A couple of nights later I approached Ryan with the idea. His eyes lit up as if what we had talked about a few nights before had never happened. He got up from the dinner table and called Jimmy to ask him. Striding back in, “He asked his shithead father who said he could come.”
On Tuesday before Thanksgiving we picked Jimmy up in Ryan’s truck. Jimmy was impressed with the shiny paint and leather seats. We stopped for a burger and fries before pulling up in front of the house. Once inside Ryan led Jimmy to the pool. They were undressed and in the pool instantly. I got naked and we wrestled around before ending up in the shower. It was crowded but we had fun soaping each other in all the right places. As we dried off Jimmy asked, “Where do I sleep?”
“With us, of course.” Jimmy somewhat tentatively got in the middle of the bed. I got on one side and Ryan the other. While Ryan was passionately kissing Jimmy I went to work on his dick followed by his asshole. He was twisting and turning until I slipped my finger in and found his prostate.
He yelled, “Whoa, hold on.” We exchanged places with none of us wanting the fun to be over. Jimmy couldn’t wait and shot cum all over Ryan. I set my sights on Ryan’s ass and he didn’t object. I wanted to be in him. Even before I was in he shot four long strings. I loved being in Ryan but it only lasted a few minutes until I was finished. They both kissed me and kissed each other.
The remaining nights it was Ryan and Jimmy in our bed and me in the guest room. I was often awakened by their lovemaking sounds. Happily I could stand at the door and watch. Ryan was aggressive and topped Jimmy more times than I thought was possible. When they weren’t fucking they were cuddled close together. We hadn’t told Jimmy about Martha so he ran for a towel when she came onto the pool deck. She yelled at him, “Jimmy, it’s only Martha.” He stopped when he saw us get out of the pool and walk toward her. With his hands in front of himself he walked over. She said, “Jimmy nice to see you. Don’t worry these guys never dress for me either.”
Ryan pouted for a couple of days after Jimmy left but it was resolved that Jimmy would come for a longer stay over summer vacation. Ryan’s calls to Jimmy were regular but not every night like before. Ryan was so into school that their relationship of mutual support didn’t seem quite as important. With finals and Christmas approaching we decided not to keep the pool heated because the electricity bills were really high. We weren’t in the pool again until late February when the weather began to warm up.
One night at dinner Ryan said, “George, I found out one of my teachers has a boyfriend. Can we invite them over?”
“Of course, but are you sure they want to be outed like that.”
“Dr. Ballisteria is a former airline pilot. He told us that at the beginning of the semester. I found out from another gay friend that his boyfriend, Jake, is in aviation mechanics.
“How’d you know your friend is gay?”
“Because he asked me if I was, he said he knows where Dr. B and Jake live.”
“Rather than invite the two of them I have a better idea. Why don’t we have a pool opening party and invite Jake and Dr. Ballisteria, your other friend and anyone else you think wouldn’t mind swimming naked?”
“Don’t you think it should be clothing optional?”
“Come now, Mr. Prude, in the Evite tell them it’s a naked pool party. If they don’t like the idea they won’t come.” He nodded in agreement and went to his room to make a list of invitees. It wasn’t a long list and every name had an email address beside it. I brought Martha up-to-date and she agreed not to come over even though she really wanted to. We had intentionally not asked “RSVP’”because Ryan was curious who wouldn’t show up. In all we had twelve people including Ryan and me. Everyone invited showed up and most came bearing wine and beer. I realized that most of the guys in the program were well past legal age.
From our first meeting I hit it off with Dr. Ballisteria who told me to call him Chip. We sat poolside watching a lively battle of volley ball over a rope Ryan tied between two chairs. As we watched Chip asked me the standard questions: “How long we’d been together? Where did we come from? What work did I do?” He seemed satisfied with my answers and volunteered that he retired from Delta four years ago as a senior captain on 767’s. I knew his age because airlines require pilots to retire at 60 years old. Even if he hadn’t been naked I could tell he was taking good care of himself. His abs were flat and when he stood he was erect and tall. His white-grey hair matched his bushy mustache and his penis was a nice plump size. He hesitated and said, “I like sex but these young guys are like rabbits. Jake wants sex morning and night. That’s more than I need at my age.” I smiled but didn’t comment.
He continued, “Jake is the youngest guy I have ever dated. It is difficult at times since our life experiences are so different. What about you and Ryan? He’s a complicated boy.”
“To be honest Chip my relationship with Ryan seems to change constantly. I don’t think I’m violating his trust but I was first a rescue grandfather. Ryan was homeless when we met. He was thrown out of his house by his military, authoritarian father. Later I became his counselor and advisor. I encouraged him to apply at Embry when he was sure he couldn’t get in or afford to come. His dream was to be in aviation. He really wants to be a pilot but has decided aviation mechanics is probably the best he will be able to do. Finally, we have a loving relationship and do have sex but rarely. We do sleep in the same bed.”
Chip listened quietly while watching the boys. All he said was, “Interesting.”
The game wound down and the guys jumped out of the pool to grab drinks. Two bearish guys started the grill for burger grilling. The two cooks were sporting large hard ons. One guy flipped the other guy’s dick and they began hugging or wrestling. I said, “Chip, are all these guys gay.”
“As far as I know only Jake, Ryan and Ryan’s friend, Mark. The other guys are out of the service. This kind of male-to-male play goes on regularly. I think it releases sexual tension. Some of the guys may be gay but my guess is most will marry and have kids. I won’t be surprised if most have had a dick up their ass.” The party went on until ten. I made sure everyone could get home safely. The two biggest, muscular guys who had been grilling were the drunkest. I insisted they either stay overnight or get someone else to drive them home. They agreed to stay. Ryan showed them the guest room and bathroom. They fell asleep together quickly.
In the morning with their door wide open the bearish guy with blond hair was fucking the other fellow with abandon. I thought the noise they were making would wake Ryan but it didn’t. I walked into the kitchen to make coffee. A few minutes later both guys dressed in skin tight tee shirts and athletic shorts came into the kitchen. I offered them coffee which they declined. The one guy named Jim said, “No got to go and get back to my girlfriend. We’d love to come over again. We had a great time.” They walked off and I understood what Chip meant. Minutes after they closed the front door it reopened with Martha wanting all the details.
After the pool party things our routine returned. Ryan studied and marveled at everything new that he learned. My card games with the girls became a little less frequent since some of the women migrated north for the summer. I began volunteering one afternoon a week at a retirement center where I manned the front desk and answered the infrequent telephone calls. I felt I was contributing. Ryan’s calls to Jimmy became scheduled for the one evening a week when Jimmy didn’t drive pizza delivery. Ryan would occasionally report something Jimmy said or did. He told me he invited Jimmy to come spend a couple of weeks when school was out. Jimmy told him he could only spend a week because he had to get back to work. Ryan told me he was working landscape in the day time and pizza delivery four nights a week.
I knew from earlier conversations Jimmy was trying to earn enough to get through the first year at Kansas State because his grades weren’t good enough for a scholarship. The poor kid must be working himself to death. Ryan sent Jimmy money for the airplane ticket.
The Saturday before Jimmy arrived I heard a roar on our street. It was unusual because Burleigh is usually a quiet street. I was sitting by the pool having a beer when I heard voices. What was unusual was they were women’s voices. My immediate thought was that Martha brought some friends over. I reached for a nearby towel. I was right about the women’s voices but wrong about Martha. Ryan came out on the deck with two women. Ryan started the introductions: “George, this is Jackie and Ruth. They’re lesbians.”
He really didn’t have to tell me the second part because Jackie was probably six feet two inches and a muscular 160 pounds. She had a black tee shirt on and black jeans with a chain hanging off her belt. Ruth, her partner or friend, was a quiet soft, shorter woman with close cropped bleached blond hair compared to Jackie’s man cut dyed black hair. Ryan started to undress in front of them when Jackie said, “You’re not going to dangle you dick in front of my face are you?”
He continued to undress and said sharply to Jackie, “Listen, bitch, I invited you over to swim didn’t I.”
“But you, little asshole, didn’t tell me naked swimming. I don’t take my clothes off for anyone except Ruthie.”
At that moment Martha walked out to the deck. “Jackie, I thought that was your black monster vehicle.”
“Yep, it’s me and Ruthie, you old fag hag.”
Martha said, “Now Jackie be nice. Why are you here in the first place?”
“This redheaded dick,” pointing at Ryan’s mid-section, “invited me and Ruth for a swim. He and I are in mechanics lab together. He is the smartest shit when it comes to understanding how the jet engine works.”
“Yeah, bitch, but you can fix it faster than I can get the instructions out. We make great lab partners. I know what to fix and she knows how to fix it. We’re going to ace this course.”
Martha said, “Well, are you going to swim or not. I’m waiting.”
“I’ll swim in my boxer briefs or not at all.” Ryan smiled. “Ruth, you got your panties on. You can swim in those. What about you fag hag?”
“While I don’t expose my vulva to many people it’s time the boys saw all of me.” With that she dropped her shirt, unsnapped her bra, dropped her flip flops, slid down her shorts, and seductively pushed her panties off. Jackie stood there with her mouth open.
Jackie snarled, “You’re right your female accessories should be kept under wraps.”
Ryan and I couldn’t keep a straight face as this verbal repartee continued in the pool. One insult followed another.
Ryan got out of the pool and walked to the outside refrigerator and got three plastic beer bottles for the girls. Jackie drank hers in one swallow. “Heah, pool boy, another.” Ryan stepped over and got her another. Before we were finished all three of the girls were naked. I was a spectator and the show was really funny.
After about an hour Jackie and Ruth left. Martha wrapped in a towel sat and we reenacted the whole scene laughing our heads off. Ryan said seriously, “Jackie will be the best mechanic in the class. She’ll get the highest grade if she doesn’t completely piss off our instructor. She tells him not the other way around. She can fix anything.”
Jimmy arrived June 15. He and Ryan played together, slept together, swam together and took a wind surfing lesson together. Watching them together made Martha and me more comfortable.
Midway through the week something happened. Ryan’s mood went from happy to black. By Saturday Ryan actions told me he wanted Jimmy gone. Ryan wanted to leave three hours early to get Jimmy to his flight when we were fifteen minutes from the airport. I waited for him to return which didn’t happen until 9 that night. I didn’t think he had something else to do so I watched the minute dial on the digital clock flash off the minutes.
He came into the house and started to go directly to our room. I said, “Wait just a minute. You owe me some explanation. What in the hell happened between you and Jimmy? Where have you been?” I was angry but was trying hard not to lose my temper.
He slowed, “The little shit is trying to reconcile with his dad. He’s going to get killed, I know it.”
“You don’t know.”
“I can’t bear the thought of Jimmy getting beat up again.”
“Ryan, he is older and bigger now. He can defend himself.”
“He’s an idiot. He’s going to get his ass kicked. He is so stupid.”
I decided to let things stand and said, “See you in bed.”
“I’m sleeping in the guest room. I’d probably bother you.”
“If you feel you want some human contact come in. You’re always welcome.” That is what happened about three in the morning. I felt him pull back the sheet and slip in. I spooned up against his stiff back and held him close to me. Moments later he was asleep. He slept until 11am which was unheard of for him. I made my coffee and Martha came through the door wanting to know the story. She said, “Ry’s right you know. Drunks aren’t drunk just once.” I sighed knowing she might be right.
Ryan’s birthday was coming and I had an idea which I shared with Chip over coffee one morning. I asked, “Can you teach Ryan to fly an airplane?”
“I’ve got thousands of flying hours but don’t have my instructor’s certification. I can get it quickly enough. I have another idea for you to consider. Let’s fly to Ft. Lauderdale for a long weekend with the boys. Ryan can sit in the second seat. I’ll watch to see if he is a candidate for the pilot’s seat.”
“I understand from Ry that you and Jake aren’t together. Is that right?”
“Jake got mad at me when I didn’t want to have sex with him. Next morning he loaded his car and left. I like Jake and I suspect he’ll be back but I really don’t care. I have taken a former air force sergeant into my bed. He is more my type. He has a gorgeous bubble butt and a crew cut like the old days. He thinks he’s bi but I don’t believe him. This weekend I’ll help him decide.”
“Good luck. How can you tell if Ry is a good pilot candidate?”
“Watch what I do when we fly down. When are you planning this trip? I have to reserve the school’s Cessna 182T.”
“Ryan’s birthday is May 22. I was thinking either the weekend before or the Memorial Day weekend.”
“If I teach him to fly the airplane rental will be steep even if we use one of the school’s trainer Cessna 152’s.”
“He wants it so much. I can swing it if it’s not more than $5000.”
“No, not that much. I have to see what getting my instructor’s badge is going to take. If I think he is a candidate we can tell him after we get to Ft. Lauderdale.”
We headed to Ft. Lauderdale from Embry’s airstrip on Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend. I was lucky the Cabana Resort had a cancellation. I reserve the small suite they had available. As Ryan, Jeremy and I stood next to the plane Chip took out the check list and started walking around the plane. When he got to the engine cowl he opened it and checked the oil. He then ran some pink liquid into a tube before examining it and dumping it out. He motioned for us to get into the plane. He told Ryan to sit in the front right seat and that left the back two seats for Jeremy and me. Jeremy's facial expression suggested he was confused but didn’t object.
Chip got in and handed headsets first to Ry and then to the two of us. He said we could listen to tower communications but suggested the cheap headsets might make understanding a challenge. After we were all belted in he picked up the check list and spoke out loud a number of items. Ryan was intensely watching Chip’s every move. Chip looked to the right and left and called out the window, “Clear” before turning the key. The propeller turned and shuddered slightly before roaring into a spin. We didn’t move because Chip had his feet on the brake pedals. He spoke, “Tower, this is Alpha Tango Charlie 448 ready to taxi.”
“Roger, Alpha Tango Charlie taxi to runway 18/36 and hold short.” The plane began to move. Ryan didn’t speak. He was watching carefully. Chip moved the little plane out, “Been a long time since I flew something this small. We’ll see how I do.” As instructed he stopped short of the runway and got out his check list. He adjusted the altimeter slightly and waited. A voice came over the earphones. “Alpha Tango Charlie cleared for takeoff. Traffic on your right at 2:00 inbound to Daytona Beach International.” Chip pushed the throttle forward and we inched into position. He revved the single engine. When he was satisfied we started slowly down the runway. It seemed like a long time until I felt the front wheel leave the pavement followed by the wheels under our seats. He slowly climbed out and turned slightly to the right. No one spoke we just watched.
Finally, he said, “Ryan that was the way it is supposed to be done. You take the controls and keep us at 2500 feet on a heading of 180 degrees.” Ryan tentatively put a hand on each side of the wheel. Chip tapped his finger on the instrument faces and said, “Ryan these are the two dials to watch.”
I couldn’t see Ryan’s eyes but I knew they had to be as big as saucers. I realized I had never asked him if he had ever been on a plane before but assumed he had when he changed bases with his family. Chip said, “We’re on our way to Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport.”
Ryan asked, “Dr. B what are the plane’s call letters again?”
“This plane is Alpha Tango Charlie 448. As you know from your aviation class the air traffic controllers are following a blip on their screen with our number beside the blip. They know where we are all the time until we land.” Chip concentrated on Ryan and said, “Ryan we are flying VFR - Visual Flight Rules which means that we can see clearly for 2000 feet in all directions. We aren’t navigating with the instruments guiding us. If it was cloudy or if bad weather was predicted I would have filed an IFR flight plan.”
“Ryan have you had the avionics class yet?”
“For today concentrate on the altimeter and the electronic compass. You’ll learn about the other instruments in that class.”
Jeremy and I looked out the window at the coast line. We passed over Cape Canaveral, Melbourne and then into the heavily populated south coast. About an hour and half into the flight Chip took the controls from Ryan and turned the plane westward over what he said was West Palm Beach to begin his approach to Ft. Lauderdale. He notified the tower of his intentions and flew parallel to the runway we were going to land on, turned around and slowly descended to the ground. He stopped communicating with us and paid attention to instructions from the executive airport tower. He was directed to parking where he took out his check list to shut off the engine power.
“Dr. B that was fucking cool.”
“Ryan, I normally would have been a little more talkative but I was watching you. You did a very good job keeping us at altitude and on course. This Cessna 182T belongs to Embry and I want to take good care of it.” I got our small bags out and went to the car rental counter as Chip made sure the plane was secure for the two days we were going to be in Ft. Lauderdale. I drove since I didn’t want to pay for the extra insurance for Ryan. We stopped first at the famous burger joint on Wilton Drive called Rosie’s before finding the Cabanas. There were guys sitting around the clothing optional pool as we checked in. Our suite was small with two bedrooms, each with a queen size bed. Neither room had a door. Ryan grabbed his bag to get ready to go to the beach. He wanted to see Sebastian Beach where the gay guys are supposed to hang out. We slipped our suits on under our clothes and got back in the car with towels that the resort provided.
Ryan was not disappointed because the beach was crowded with men of all sizes and shapes, many in very skimpy Speedos. “Our beach in Daytona should look like this. All we’ve got is rednecks in board shorts.” We laughed and frolicked in the ocean for a while. Ryan announced he was ready to leave. No one objected. I particularly wanted to shower the sea water off. We didn’t stay long at the Cabanas because Chip wanted to take us to cocktails at Tropics which he described as God’s waiting room. I understood what he meant when we got there. The clientele was mainly older men. A few had younger admirers. We took a table as I carefully considered my potential partners when Ryan moves on which I know he will. We stayed at Tropics for dinner as the piano player entertained us with songs I knew well. I was unsure if Ryan and Jeremy had ever heard them.
After dinner on the way back to the Cabana’s we had stopped for beer. For the first time in our three years together I saw Ryan drink a beer. He drank only one before switching to Coke. He seemed totally relaxed as did Chip and Jeremy. Ryan pulled me into our bedroom and undressed me. I could see Chip and Jeremy smile as Ryan went about getting naked with me. We got in bed and turned off the light even though light flooded in from the living area. We made love. More than ever I felt it was Ryan saying ‘thank you’ rather than ‘I love you.’ I didn’t care. I enjoyed myself. He kept working on me until I could no longer hold off. I sent my sperm flying onto his chest. He didn’t seem interested in doing the same. I wondered if I was totally unattractive to him.
I got an answer the next morning when I heard the shower running in the bathroom. Even though the shower curtain was closed I could tell Ryan and someone were showering together. Since Chip was standing on our porch drinking coffee I figured it was Ryan and Jeremy. Chip smiled as I stepped out with him, “Let the boys have their fun. I don’t care.”
Sunday we drove to the Lincoln Avenue Mall on South Beach before returning to have Ryan’s birthday celebration at the W Hotel. The meal and drinks were expensive but exquisite. When the boys were shopping Chip and I discussed when to tell Ryan about the flying lessons. Chip said that Ryan was a good candidate and told me he would start lessons in the fall when school started. He was still waiting to get his instructor’s certification. As dinner was winding down I tapped my glass to get their attention. I said, “Ryan, happy birthday.” I paused, “I have decided that you should get your pilot’s license.” I could see his face drop. “Yes, starting in the fall Chip’s going to teach you. He’s a master pilot. He thinks you can become a good pilot.”
“That’s awesome, thank you everyone,” tears filled his eyes and mine, too. He reached over and hugged me and kissed me on both cheeks. This was a demonstration of intimacy that I rarely saw from Ryan. Jeremy and Chip clapped their hands. Once in bed our sex was different and a genuine ‘thank you’ with my feet in the air with Ryan securely inside me. Tonight he came and slept soundly next to me all night. The next morning we were back at the airport and Chip repeated the check list process. He told us he filed an IFR plan because there were thunderstorms predicted in the Daytona area about the time of our expected arrival. Ryan seemed to be paying even closer attention to everything Chip did. Fortunately, we arrived back in Daytona Beach before the storms arrived. Chip and Jeremy followed us home. We swam and watched TV until they went off to bed. Ryan started a movie that did not interest me so I went to bed.
The following week in summer session Ryan started a hydraulics class which was optional. He convinced Jackie to take the class with him. She agreed but told him she and Ruth were going to some lesbian conclave in Georgia about midway through the class. He assured her he would cover for her. After almost every class he would come home raving about her ability to understand and fix systems. He said the hydraulics class was one of the best classes that he had taken. In early August he completely shocked me when he told me he was going to the airport to pick up his sister, Sharon, and brother, Robbie.
I said, “What are you talking about?”
“Just what I said. Sharon and Robbie are coming to visit me. I haven’t seen them in six years.”
“Did your father let them come?”
“Well, they’re basically adults but no they didn’t tell him. He’s away at some summer army reserve exercise. They told my mother who was happy they were coming. She promised not to tell my dad. They both still live at home.”
Two hours later an attractive young woman with long dark brown hair and deep chocolate brown eyes walked in followed by a younger, shorter, plumper version of Ryan with equally red hair. Ryan followed carrying their bags. He introduced Sharon and Robbie. I hugged Sharon and avoided Robbie’s outstretched hand and pulled him into a hug. He smiled and didn’t resist. Robbie said, “Ry show us around.”
“Follow me. Here’s Sharon’s room and over here is your room. You guys share this bathroom. George and my room is over on the left.”
“You guys sleep in the same bed.”
“Duffuss, we’re partners. Of course we sleep together. And for the record we sleep together naked.” Ryan turned and said, “This way to the kitchen and the pool.” Standing together on the deck I heard Ryan add, “And we swim naked. That’s my rule but you can do what you want. Just don’t complain.” For the two weeks I observed the three of them be brothers and sister. There was complaining, discussion of many subjects including school, careers, their father and politics. Ryan was big brother. He told them when they were going to do something like go to the beach and go to Disneyworld which he paid for. Robbie and Sharon couldn’t get enough of their big brother. By the third day they were frolicking in the pool unashamed of their physical bodies. Robbie reported he was sleeping nude which he said he never thought he would do. Some days the three of them shopped and fixed lunch and dinner. Toward the end of the two weeks there was an approaching dreaded end. I could feel it especially from Ryan who wanted to hold onto them.
Over and over he asked, “When can you guys come back?” There were never commitments because I’m sure Sharon and Robbie didn’t know. The morning of their departure there was silence as they drank their orange juice and ate their cereal. I hugged the two of them as Ryan loaded their bags in the truck. I added my encouragement to return. Their visit brought a sense of happiness and joy to Ryan. When he returned he was subdued and spent the afternoon floating around in the pool. Over grilled burgers and iced tea he said, “George, do you think I’ll see them again.”
“No doubt, Ryan, you’re their big brother. They’ll see you but how soon we will just have to wait and see.”
He pushed his chair back and got up stretching, “I’ve gotta call Jimmy. Talk later.” He was gone.
Ryan’s classes his last year seemed to be of little interest to him. He had to take the required political science class, a seminar on aviation history and complete a senior project requiring disassembly and reassembly of a jet engine. He wisely selected Jackie as his partner but she had to drop out to care for Ruth who was diagnosed with breast cancer. Ryan was unsure if he could finish alone. He told me later Jackie secretly slipped in and helped him.
Chip had been over several times before school started. I felt he wanted to be more than friends as he frequently rubbed my back or put his hand on my thigh as we sat side by side. One afternoon we were swimming and without a word he grabbed my butt cheeks and pulled me into a kiss. I didn’t resist. I kissed his soft lips with his mustache tickling me for what seemed like minutes. Our penises were resting beside each other. I said, “Ry won’t be home for hours would you like to get in bed with me.”
He smiled, “I would like that very much.” We had wonderful gentle sex and then rested together. Chip decided we better get dressed so we wouldn’t be surprised by Ryan. He was correct. Ryan came into the house not ten minutes later. I fixed some pork chops for grilling as Chip and Ryan sat by the pool. When I came out with the meat Ryan excitedly said, “George, Chip told me we are starting my flying lessons on Tuesday. He brought me a manual to review before my first lesson.”
“We are going to do two lessons a week and Dr. B thinks I can fly solo by Thanksgiving.”
After every lesson Ryan would fill me in on what they did. He was happy but unusually serious about what he was learning. I knew he loved the lessons because of comments like: “It’s so fucking cool and it’s crazy me flying.” These would be interjected at unexpected points in a discussion of a completely unrelated topic. In early October Ryan announced he was going to solo later in the week. He told me he had to wear an old shirt because tradition has it that the back of your shirt is cut out to remind you to always be thinking before approaching the airplane. He invited me to come to the airstrip and watch which I was anxious to do. I stood at the fence and watched Chip who was intensely watching Ryan. Ryan took the check list and methodically did exactly what Chip did on our trip to Ft. Lauderdale.
When Ryan got into the pilot’s seat Chip walked up to me and put his hand on my shoulder. “He’ll do fine. He gets a little too hurried to go through the check list but he’s going to be fine. He has a natural instinct for flying. We heard “Clear” and the propeller begin to whine. The plane which didn’t look bigger than a big bird moved quickly to the end of the runway. After waiting for a corporate jet to land and taxi off Ryan pulled onto the runway. In moments he had the Cessna in the air. He flew west out of sight and ten minutes later Chip said, “There he is in the landing pattern.” We watched and he went a long way down wind and got in line behind another larger corporate plane. When his turn came he guided the Cessna to the ground with a small bump. I stirred nervously, “It’s OK. I want him to land the plane not float it to the ground. After his solo flight all Ryan could talk about was his first cross country flight to airports in Ocala or Gainesville. Before he could do that he had to pass the written portion of the pilot’s license exam.
He seemed so uninterested in political science that I was afraid he was going to fail the mid-term. To my amazement he got a ‘B’. Unusually stormy weather in November curtailed his flying. His mood got more and more blue. I reassured him that he would be back in the air soon. About that time the calls the Jimmy increased and after each one Ryan was irritable and nasty. I chose not to inquire but found myself regularly hugging Ryan in the night. I got little resistance.
Finally, Chip and Ryan decided that the weather was good enough for Ryan to fly his cross country flight. That meant he had to fly to two uncontrolled airfields, stop the plane and find someone to sign his log book. Chip approved his plan to fly first to Northeast Florida Regional Airport in St. Augustine and then land on his trip south at the small airport in Hastings, Florida before returning to Embry. The morning of the planned flight I was more nervous than Ryan was. He left smiling and said he’d see me after his aviation history class. Shortly after 5pm he came in smiling. “Well, I did it. So cool to be up there alone. Only trouble I had was finding someone at Hastings to sign my log book.”
Ryan’s flying slowed down because he had to finish his senior project and take finals before Christmas. While Ryan didn’t have any classes that Chip taught they talked almost daily about something or other related to flying. I decided I wanted to get a framed copy of the Magee poem as one of the Ryan’s Christmas gifts. We weren’t big into giving things as gifts but he seemed to really appreciate the gift. He immediately hung it prominently by his desk. I felt good about it.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, --and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of --Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air...
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew --
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
With no explanation from Ryan his calls to Jimmy became almost nightly. I could hear him raise his voice but consciously tried not to listen. There was definitely tension between them. Just as quickly as the calls became frequent they stopped without explanation. After Christmas I noticed Ryan’s behavior change. There was rarely a hug or kiss on my cheeks which had become part of our greeting ritual. Chip was over one afternoon and I asked him if he noticed any change. He paused before answering, “Not really, but I have said to you before Ryan is difficult kid to figure out.” Chip did tell me that he and Ryan were going to start with instrument flying lessons in January.
Ryan had only one class senior seminar taught by Chip. It involved visiting a major regional airport maintenance facility and then preparing an extensive preventive maintenance plan. With Chip’s contacts the class was going to Atlanta to Delta’s main facility. This required each student to submit birth certificates and passports to the FAA regional office to get clearance. The trip was delayed because one student Mahmoud, an American citizen whose parents came from Iran, had to be interviewed by Homeland Security before he could get clearance. Ryan was totally stressed and complained for several days about the unreasonable inquiry into Mahmoud’s background . He said that Mahmoud was a great guy and he couldn’t understand the discrimination.
The class was finally cleared and plans were to fly to Atlanta on Delta with Chip. At dinner the night before they left I asked, “Ryan have you ever flown on a commercial airliner?”
He turned and faced me and said, “George I have flown a couple of times when we were changing bases. I had never been in a small airplane until the day we flew to Ft. Lauderdale. What I did that day was so special. I will never be able to thank you enough for your gift. You know I love you more than anyone, except Jimmy, of course. You saved my life, really.” I had tears in my eyes and so did he. He got up and came over and gave me a hug. “Got to get ready. Flying off at 6:30 tomorrow morning.” He was gone. I sat silently looking at the dirty dishes. I thought what a ride Ryan and I have had over the past four years. I really didn’t know what to expect after he graduated.
After the class returned from Atlanta Ryan and Chip were back in the air for twice weekly lessons focused on Ryan getting his instrument rating. One stormy Tuesday morning Ryan came in wearing old baggy shorts, a tee shirt and sandals. I was surprised because he always went to his flying lessons in jeans and a collared shirt. I said, “Pretty casual today.”
“Yep,” was all I got in return. I got up to see him off and he hugged me unusually long. I was nervous. Something was different and I didn’t know what. After he left I found his phone on his dresser with Jimmy’s name scrawled on a crumpled piece of paper beside it. I thought, “Ryan is never without his cell phone.” The day was interminable. By 4pm I was pacing because it was which was way past time for Ryan to return. Martha walked in and her face told me something was wrong. All she said, “Chip’s on his way over.” I didn’t ask but knew something had happened to Ryan.
The doorbell rang and I got up to answer it. Chip stood there with his shoulders slumped and his eyes bloodshot like he had been crying. “George, I have to tell you Ryan is gone.”
“I suspected. What happened?”
Chip hugged me, “I couldn’t stop him. He jumped out in midair.” Martha and I hugged quivering Chip. My knees were shaking.
“You two sit down. I think I know what happened.” I got up and went into our bedroom to retrieve Ryan’s phone and the slip of paper with Jimmy’s name on it. I could see on the phone screen there was a voice message. I carried the phone back into the living room and put it down. “I wonder if this message has anything to do with what happened.”
Martha said, “What’s the message?”
“I don’t know but I know Ryan never intentionally leaves his cell phone at home.”
“How can we listen? Doesn’t he have security on the voice mail?”
“Yes, I’m going to try ATC448 # to see if that’s it.”
“Let me try and then I’ll tell you.” I got voicemail and the woman’s voice asked for the security code followed by the pound sign. I typed in 282448 and she said, “You have one saved message. Hit #2 to listen to your message.” My heart was pounding so hard it felt like it was going to come out of my chest. Martha and Chip looked intensely at the phone. I hit #2. The message started “Ryan, this is Jimmy’s grandmother. It’s terrible but Jimmy is dead. He was killed last night by a drunk driver when he was delivering a pizza. Call if you want to. Bye.”
I turned the piece of paper over and asked Martha to read it. She seemed reluctant and handed the slip to Chip. His hands were shaking but he read, “Jimmy, I’m coming.” Chip started to talk like a machine gun firing. “We had exchanged roles and I had the hood on my head. He told me he wanted to put the plane at a severe attitude and see how I got control. I remember he unbuckled his seat belt. I told him to fasten it. I don’t remember if he did. We had flown out over the ocean but not very far. He took us up to eight thousand feet. I didn’t stop him because he was the pilot. I could feel us moving toward a stall. I was concentrating on the instruments under my hood. I heard to door latch open, I felt a surge of air and he was gone. I ripped off the hood and got the plane quickly under control. I saw him fall through the sky naked. His shorts and shirt are in the car.
“I radioed the tower at Daytona Beach and told them to send out a Civil Air Patrol plane to look for him. I knew he was dead but I had to do something.” By now Chip was sobbing as was Martha. The next few days I remember very little. Martha and Chip were with me for hours. There were interviews with the police and Homeland Security. I had the unpleasant task of calling his sister and brother. As it turned out his sister’s cell numbers didn’t work. I left a message for Robbie but never got a call back. I chose not to call Jimmy’s grandmother because I figured she had Jimmy’s burial to worry about. No one in Ryan’s family knew he was gone.
Since there was no body we couldn’t bury Ryan. We did have a remembrance at our house in May at the time Ryan would have graduated. People said kind things about Ryan but Jackie’s remarks really stuck with me. She said, “Ryan was the best shit in the whole world. No one really knew him. I know he’s in a better place. He knew more than any of us what needed to be fixed and he always said I could fix anything. But you know what folks, Ryan didn’t want to be fixed. I will miss him as much as anyone but finally maybe he can find peace.
The characters and stories are totally fictional. If you decide to read the story please let me know how if you liked it at email@example.com.
I have included photos at various points in the story. The photos were taken by anonymous photographers, posted on the internet or I would have given them appropriate credit.
I want to thank Anthony Camacho for editing the story. His suggestions were much appreciated.