The Garden











It was two weeks till Halloween in New York City.  The weather, the trees or life had yet to show any sign of Fall.  The temperature had finally slid into the eighties after seemingly endless weeks of insufferable 90 plus degree days.  Compounded by the haze of humidity fouled by pollution, everyone was sick of the weather and no one was in the mood to put up with it any longer, including me.  I wasn’t used to it any more. 


 The morning news warned of change.   What would begin as just another calm sultry day in that eternal summer was to be engulfed in a violent wave of wind and rain.  I couldn’t believe the weatherman when he said that the temperature would drop more than 45 degrees by sundown.   It felt strange to go to the closet for a jacket and umbrella and awkward to put the coat over my arm.  I felt ridiculous as I went out the door.  As I walked the blocks, I saw that the stores were still stocked with Halloween outfits. 

“Who in his right mind would want to have a plastic mask sticking to his face in this heat anyway,” I mumbled on my way to the subway. 

The jacket made my arm sweat and all of me was dripping by the time I made it down into the subway.  Standing on the sweltering platform it was easy to see who had watched the news that morning and who hadn’t a clue as to what had been predicted.  A few people stared at me in disbelief, thinking I was crazy or from out of town.  Those of us with umbrellas and coats knowingly smiled at one another, praying that the weatherman was right.


As I sat at my desk, I kept glancing out the window for most of the day as I looked for signs in the sky, wondering when it would happen, hoping that I wasn’t going to be disappointed carrying my coat and umbrella home.  I didn’t get much work done as I continually scanned the sky and watched the clouds.


Finally, at 5 o’clock, the western sky showed signs of change as a line of clouds appeared through the haze, slowly darkening and beginning to glow an eerie greenish gray.  I knew hell was about to reign.  I quickly put down my pencil, turned off my computer and walked for the elevator.  I promptly turned around and retrieved my jacket and umbrella, being out of the habit.  I saw my boss looking at me and gave him a big silly grin.  He shrugged his shoulders and waved “Bye” as he picked up his phone.   When I got to the street the wind began to gust, the hot breeze felt good, but the dust, soot and grime on the wind gagged me and stung my eyes.  Relieved to get down the subway stairs, I was full of anticipation as I emerged ten minutes later from my ride around in the hole in the ground.  The sky was charcoal black and the temperature ten degrees cooler.  The winds were stiff and now cold.  As I put on my jacket, the rain began to fall in huge drops.  It rained harder and harder.  The gusts were too strong to try to use my umbrella and I began to run.  By the time I made it the four blocks to my door, I was soaked.  My apartment was still sticky hot and I quickly stripped my suit off down to my boxers and t-shirt.  I opened the drapes on my windows with a view of the sky and sat back on my couch to watch the weather. 

“God, I live such an exciting life,” I said to the photos on the walls.  

I returned to watching the torrents of rain lash down from the clouds and cleanse everything in sight.  People scurried helpless against the driving force of the rain; umbrellas flew by my windows, having lost their owners. After twenty minutes, I began to close the windows I had left ajar; my small first floor apartment had begun to cool off and I changed into a pair of old soft blue jeans and an orange t-shirt with blue banding at the neck and arms.


I lived in the back half of a corner building, with three windows on the side street and four that faced a fenced-in back yard that was mine to use.  It was my private oasis, three hundred square feet of Eden.  During my three and a half years here I had turned this rear yard from a junk strewn shooting gallery to my sanctuary from city life.  I had rebuilt the back porch and added a wide plank board fence with a gate that led to the street so I could have some sense of privacy and security.  I also laid a stone patio with a slate bench and a path through as many plants as I could fit.  After years of work with the help of some friends, I had finally achieved the lush cool enclave that was my daily vacation.  I stared out the back windows to check on my yard. All of the plants were getting a good shake down from the wind and were being washed by the rain. 

“This is what they all need,” I said to myself. 

The gusts were whipping the one large ailanthus or “Tree of Life” and I began to worry about it snapping a branch. The waving of the tree kept setting off the motion detector for the light in the back yard so I hit the override switch to turn it off.   I then decided I couldn’t act like a mother hen about the Garden and turned away to get dinner ready.  I would check on it later once the storm had calmed.


I began my normal routine of fixing dinner for one plus leftovers for lunch another day, letting the TV watch itself and organizing my thoughts about tomorrow.  My main thoughts were directed to the Garden; with Fall here I could clean up any damage from the storm and clear out the overgrowth to get it ready for its winter hibernation.  As I assembled the ingredients into the pot I looked out the window to see the thermometer pointed at 38° F. 

“My God, the weatherman was right!” 

The temperature had dropped nearly fifty degrees in little over two hours.  As if that weren’t enough, a blast of wind and rain slashed at the window to emphasize the fact that summer was over.  I felt an incredible chill come over me which I tried to dismiss as part of the weather but this exact feeling only comes to me when my life is about to change.  I sat down to wait for dinner to finish cooking..  In reality, I sat down so that I could gain the mental and emotional strength I would probably need that evening and so I wouldn’t get scared either.


After ten minutes of meditation and listening to the wind and rain continue to erase summer from the city, I had this incredible urge to look out into the Garden. At first I tried to shake it off but then turned off the flame under my dinner and moved to the back door.  I flicked on the light and looked out and around.  There were a lot of leaves and blown debris but all in all the Garden was none the worse.  I unbolted the door and opened it up enough to stick my head out, feeling the frigid rain as it hit my face and hands.  I wanted to slam the door shut but didn’t, then I pushed the screen door open and scanned the yard. 

“What is out here?” I whispered to myself. 

I could sense it.  Something was making me stand in a bitter cold rain in my bare feet. As I looked down at my feet, between the boards of porch I saw a figure under the steps.  My heart sank as I ran down the six steps and around to see who had the audacity to invade my private world, and also to see how I could help!   I knew the dichotomy of New York: how to be human yet protect yourself implicitly.  What I found was a boy.  From his face he looked to be no more than sixteen.  His lips were deep blue.


 “Hey, you Ok?”

 He made no response, not even retreating from my approach.  His eyes were slits. As I reached under the stoop and scooped him up in my arms, I realized he was dressed only in a T-shirt, shorts and sneakers with a dirty white knapsack clutched to his chest. He must have weighed only 125 pounds soaked as he was, and he was cold!  I pulled his head up next to mine as I ran up the stairs and listened for his breath.   I couldn’t hear any as I hurried through the kitchen, turned down the hall and into the bathroom.  Grabbing a large towel, I wrapped it around him and laid him in the tub, spinning the hot water tap as I moved his feet aside.  The hot water came up quickly and I cranked on the cold to temper the hottest water that I thought he could stand.  “What do I know about any of this,” I thought.  All I knew was that I had to get him warm.   Finally, I could hear him breathe, ever so lightly; I sighed and then continued, taking off his shoes. He released his bag to me. I kept up a constant chatter looking to get a response but he seemed to be in deep shock just shy of comatose.  Frantically I rubbed on his hands and arms, feet and legs, working to get blood flowing into his muscles.  As I stared at his face, I saw he had flowing blond hair, lighter in color than mine and almost shoulder length. It had been awhile since he had his hair cut.  His long thin nose was perfectly proportioned to his face, and a soft angelic expression of quiet contentment appeared in his cheeks and mouth.  His eyes had begun to open slightly but I still couldn’t tell what color they were.  Rubbing his feet again I asked him to wiggle his toes, and got the slightest movement as he tried to crimp them in unison.  I was ecstatic!  Now, I rubbed his arms and hands, asking him to move his fingers.  He slowly wrapped his fingers around my index finger, as my godson had done as a baby. 

Smiling from ear to ear, I asked, “Hey, you OK?” 

This time I got the slightest upturn of his lip.  I asked him if he would be OK for a few minutes and he slowly blinked his green eyes. I ran to the kitchen, put on some water to boil and opened a can of soup to heat. 

“Warm on the inside next,” I said to myself as I went back to the tub and sat on the rim, one foot out, one in. 

I put my hand on his cheek and caressed it.  I felt embarrassed by what I did but it was the most natural thing to me.

“Thanks,” he said almost inaudibly.

 “I’m Pete,” I said. 

He just gave a weak smile.  We sat silently for a few minutes till I thought the water would be boiling and the soup ready. 

I turned at the door and asked, “Tea?   Soup?   Both?”  No answer, but a stronger smile this time. 

“OK, both then.  I hope you like tomato soup.”  I smiled too as I walked around the corner to the kitchen.

Soup and tea, one mug in each hand with a blue and orange dishtowel over my arm, I put them down at the sink and placed the towel over the toilet seat as a tablecloth thinking even in severe situations there should be some decorum. 

Sitting on the edge of the tub I asked, “Which would you like first?” 

After a couple of seconds I picked up the tea and held the mug close to his lips so he could breathe in the warmth of the Red Zinger.  He looked up to me so I moved the mug to his lips hoping that it wasn’t too hot.  He tentatively pursed his lips over the rim of the mug and sipped an infinitesimal mist of tea. He exhaled and sipped again, this time taking in more.  Slowly he began to drink the tea.  After the fifth or sixth sip he raised his arms and began to wrap his long delicate fingers around the mug.  Two more sips and his hands were firmly grasping it so I slowly transferred the mug to his control.   Then as I ran some more hot water into the tub, he sat up and the towel I had wrapped around him fell from his shoulders.  I grabbed it and pulled it gently out from behind him hauling the sopping mass into the sink where it landed with a loud splat.

He smiled and then said in a hoarse whisper, “Tom . . . I’m Tom.”

 I got my first glance of his toothy grin.  I was impressed by the fact that at his age he didn’t call himself Tommy, or even Thomas.  Simply, Tom, I liked that.  He handed me the mug and I swapped it for the soup.

 “How do you feel, Tom?” 

“OK, I guess,” he said softly before he took a gulp of the soup.  This kid was definitely returning to normal.   He took two more huge gulps of the soup and handed the empty mug to me. 

“Still hungry, huh?” 

 “Yes,” he said as he nodded. 

“I know you’re already a wrinkled mass from the water, but why don’t you get out of those clothes and take a shower to clean up.   I’ll make you something to eat while you do and find you some dry clothes.” 

He reached out and took my hand into his, then placed the back of my hand to his forehead for a moment as he nodded his head.

“You’re welcome, Tom.”  

He looked at me with surprise and a wry smile as I stood and pulled him up to standing. He stood about 5’-9” or so, with a slim but muscular build, showing good definition through the wet clothing.  He was strikingly handsome. His high cheekbones and full lips complemented his strong nose.  He needed to shave but I couldn’t tell if it had been a few days or a few weeks since he had last taken a razor to his face.

“If you don’t mind, just hand me your clothes and I’ll put them in the wash.” 

He reached down, grabbed the bottom of his shirt, and began to pull it up.  Soaking wet and still a little weak he seemed to be caught so I gave him a helping hand. He placed the sopping rag in my hands and I wrung it out into the tub. 

“Hope nothing valuable was in your pockets.” 

He put his hands into them and pulled out some change and about thirty dollar bills. 

“Nope, not really, but it’s all I got. Hold on to it for me will ya?” he said. 

“Sure,” I replied and stuffed the money in my shaving cup on the sink.

I placed the shirt into the sink and let the bath water drain away.  I turned to get a towel out of the linen closet.  When I spun back around he was standing there naked waiting to trade the shorts for the towel.  I must have looked like a deer caught in the headlights because he had a wonderful wide grin across his face. 

“You’re welcome,” he said and then began to laugh. 

This boy was perceptive, intelligent and a devious imp to boot, I thought.  I pulled the clear shower curtain closed while shaking my head and said, “Back in a few.” 


Yes, my life had certainly begun to change in the last hour.  Actually, I had changed and was continuing to evolve.  My attitude about myself was being transformed by this event.   I didn’t understand the implications or ramifications but as I walked to the washer in a daze of emotions I realized that my life would never be the same.  After loading the washer I headed for my bedroom, opened my closet and stared at the clothes.  My mind began to spin with thoughts about who this kid was and how he was going to fit into my life, which had been crazy enough to this point. Why did I want to get involved with this?  What if he just got dressed and walked out the door?  Who am I to think that he wants anything to do with me?  At the same time my mind was confident he had already made up his mind that he had found a home here…. but wait, did I want him to have a home here?  I ask, confusing myself by playing the devil’s advocate against myself.  Do I look at him as a little brother, a friend or even as a lover?  He’s a kid; he’s probably too young to legally touch!   I’m probably twelve years older than he is!  What was I doing!  I got angry with myself as I twisted my emotions into a knot.  I calmed down thinking, “Live in the moment, take things as they come.”   I pulled out an old pair of comfortable soft jeans and a long sleeved T-shirt, found some thick cotton socks and then got stuck on what kind of underwear to bring him.  “Should I bring any at all,” I thought with a chuckle, then grabbed the only pair of briefs that I thought might fit him and took two steps toward the bathroom.  I looked at the underwear in my hands and began to cry when I remembered the last person to wear them. The tears stopped when I knew that Jason would have fully supported what I was doing.  I saw his infectious grin in my mind and smiled. 


I went to the kitchen in order to get the dinner I had turned off over an hour ago back on track. It just had to finish cooking, and since the shower was still running, I began to make biscuits from scratch.   I got the ingredients together and was kneading the dough when I heard the shower cut off.  Wiping my hands, I picked up the clothes and walked back to the bath. 

“Hey, mind if I come in?” 

“No, prob. Come on.”  

He was toweling off with the curtain open.  His hair was a mass of confusion as he worked the towel down his arms and chest.  His cock was full but not erect and I couldn’t help but stare.  The scene before my eyes was the realization of many a fantasy and dream.  Tom smiled at me, knowing that he was looking at that deer again. 

“Sorry,” I said.  

“Don’t be, it’s all right.” 

“Here are some clothes that I think will fit. I’ll be in the kitchen when you’re ready.  There’s a brush by the mirror and I have a new toothbrush in the medicine cabinet, OK.”  


I turned back to look once again; I couldn’t help myself.  “He’s fucking gorgeous…literally,” I said in my head.   My mind reeled as I looped back into the kitchen.  I wanted to go back to the bathroom and get in that shower with him.  Memories, images, and emotions that I had hidden from myself for years flooded my mind as I lost myself in flattening out the dough and cutting the biscuits with a glass. After popping them into the oven, I gave one final check of dinner and then poured two glasses of mineral water. As I turned around with them in my hands, Tom walked into the room carrying the two mugs and the dishtowel.

Thanks, just put them in the sink.” 

It was my turn to smile now. He looked so damn good in those old clothes of mine. 

“WOW!, what smells so good?” 

“Homemade biscuits and the khichadi, I guess.  I know the salad probably doesn’t smell.”  

Khichadi?” he said with a twisted mouth.  

“Rice, dal and vegetables.  It’s an Indian dish.”  

“No meat?” 

“Nope, vegetarian here.” 

“Really cool!”  I couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic or not as he took the glass of water out of my hand and sat at the red Formica topped table.  

“Can you sit for a minute?” he asked. 

“Sure, got about ten before it’s all done.  What’s up?”  


I sat in the chair next to him.  Reaching over and taking my hands into his, he stared into my eyes for a few moments. 

“Thanks, Pete.  You saved my life.  I know that for a fact.” 

“Tom, if it hadn’t been for this feeling I got to venture outside I would have found you tomorrow.  So I didn’t really do anything.”  

I was impressed with this young man.  His polite, mature nature seemed incongruous to the teenage boy who sat before me. 

“I guess you’re welcome,” I continued, “but there’s no need to try to pay me back.  However, will you tell me how you ended up under my porch?”


“Where should I start?” he said with a smirk. 

“Ah, so he can still be a smartass teen,” I thought.

 “At the beginning, Tom, no need to be cheeky,” I smiled, “I know you know where to start.”  

He cracked a grin; “I left home in early July, from Reading, Pennsylvania and hitched to New York because I knew some kids who were here.  I came to be with them.  I was just goin’ to stay for a week or two, but things happened and I was havin’ such a great time bein’ on my own.   People kept letting me stay at their places for a few days at a time.  I was meeting new friends; well, I thought they were my friends.  Anyway, I had access to some money from my savings account, so I was living OK.  At least, I always had money to eat, others were doing that beggin’ thing or scroungin’ somehow to keep going.  As long as I had money and I could spring a little for others here and there then everything was cool. Then I woke up one morning last week and my wallet had been gone through.  My ATM card and what money I had were gone.  By the time I called my bank and told them to stop any transactions on the card it was too late; 2,000 bucks were gone and I had no way to get a new card.  I knew who it probably was but it doesn’t matter. They were nowhere to be found. Now I had to start the beggin’ thing.  It’s bullshit to say the least.  I hated it, but I wanted enough to get a bus ticket home.  Been livin’ on the streets since, because I don’t trust anyone anymore.  I had collected most of what I need as of this morning and had just wandered into this neighborhood wanting to work a new area when the winds came up.  I got tossed out of a couple of places where I was lookin’ to hang out.  I guess I was lookin’ a bit too grungy for them.  Then the rains came.  I couldn’t believe it could get so cold so fast.  I grew scared; I wanted to cry.  That’s when I climbed your fence.  I wanted to hide, and cry…and die.  I couldn’t believe how the whole summer, the fun and independence, had collapsed in such a short time. I saw the lights on. I was going to knock and ask for help, but I just couldn’t.  I don’t want to be a burden to anyone…anymore.  I didn’t want to drag anyone else down with me. So I crawled under the porch.  Then after, oh…I don’t know how long, I got so cold I couldn’t even move.  I had the feeling that I really was gonna die!  It was too easy to close my eyes!  Then I felt myself being lifted, but I had no idea what was going on.  Lights, talking, noises and then warmth, all a blur.  Then I saw you.  I had this overwhelming feeling of warmth coming from you and I had this feeling that I’d known you forever.  As far down as I had felt just a few minutes before I now felt the opposite.”  


There was a pause for at least a minute as we just looked at each other. 

“I…I…want to hug you so badly,” he said on the verge of tears. 

The screech of the chairs pushing back across the linoleum and the crash of one of them falling over were lost on the two of us as we grabbed and held each other as tightly as we could.  We slowly rocked back and forth.  Both of us realized that something had brought us together; at this point, we didn’t care what.  I have no idea how long we stood there.  It was the smell of the biscuits going to burn that brought me back to reality.  

“OH, my God!” I said. 

I let go of the embrace, grabbed Tom by the sides of his face and quickly kissed him on the lips.  He looked at me stunned and wide-eyed. 

“Huh,” he said, as I spun around grabbed the dish towel and flung the oven open.

 I snatched the pan out of the oven and tossed it on the stovetop.   Then, once I regained my composure, I calmly turned the oven off as well as the burner under the khichadi

 “Soup’s on, ya ready?” I asked with a smile. 

Tom started to chuckle and then burst out in full laughter.  I glanced out of the corner of my eye and then winked.  As I made up plates for the two of us and brought them to the table, Tom picked up the chair and sat back down.  I went back and pulled off a few biscuits.  I had gotten to them just in time.  We kept looking up from eating and smiling at each other, not saying a word. 

Finally, as he was enjoying a biscuit, tearing little bits and popping them into his mouth, he looked at me and said, “There’s a lot more to the story than what I’ve said so far.”  

Without a pause and not looking up from my plate, I said, “I know, I’ve only gotten the Reader’s Digest version so far.  That’s OK, I’m not going to push it. You’ll tell me when you can…or want…or need to.”  

I looked up and gave him a quick bounce of my eyebrows. 

“But you can tell me how old you are, please.”   


 I looked at him very seriously and said, “Are you sure?” 

 “Seventeen…on January sixth…next year.”   


“You’re not mad at me?” 


“How old are you?” he said almost timidly.  

“Twenty-eight…May tenth…next year,” I replied with a smirk on my face. 


“Why, thank you,” I said with a huge grin before I took a bite of biscuit.

 I leaned back in my chair and continued to smile at him as I chewed.  I was truly content for the first time in four years.


After we finished our dinner, well Tom finished the dinner with seconds and thirds, we stood at the sink washing the dishes.  He washed as I dried and put them away.  We chatted as if we had known each other forever, a banter that bordered on simple gossip, that type of easygoing conversation that I had missed in my life at home.  It was a conversation of getting to know one another through our experiences.    We both kept looking out at the now steady rain, blown by an occasional gust.  The street was empty, as if the city had entered into hibernation. We looked at each other and silently acknowledged the fact that we were glad we were here instead of outside.  The dishes done and put away, I picked up and straightened the last few things in the kitchen.  I switched the laundry into the dryer and turned out the hall light. I put my hand on Tom’s lower back and guided him through the wide archway from the kitchen into the living room where I turned on the TV. 


For the first time the situation seemed a little awkward as we sat on the couch together.  I clicked the remote, surfing the eight channels till Tom looked at me when he saw that we were quickly back to the beginning of the rotation. 

“No cable, I just don’t want to watch that much TV.”   

“Ok, but…”  

“But what,” I asked. “There’s always a ‘But’,” I added with a smile.  

There was a long pause.  I was intrigued now.

“But what,” I repeated softly as I tilted and leaned my head forward. 

“I guess I’ll get used to it,” he said sheepishly.  

My mouth dropped open and then soon turned to a grin, but I must have had the most twisted expression I could make for a look of fear came over his face. 

“I’m sorry!” he blurted out.

“Wait, wait, its OK.  I’m just confused…and surprised…and a little PO’ed at your audacity…. And I’m also elated.”  

I burst out laughing.  I grabbed Tom around his chest and pulled him down on top of me as I lay down on the couch. 

“You cheeky little bastard!  Of course you can stay.  I couldn’t kick you back out in the cold.”  

I hugged him tight and he hugged me back.   I could feel him begin to sob softly into the crook of my neck. 

“It’s alright Tom, it’s alright.” 

Caressing the back of his neck he began to cry as months of fear and anger began to let go.   I just held tight as the spasms of his chest were absorbed by mine.  

“It’s alright Tom, it’s alright.”  

My own tears were streaming down the sides of my face because I too knew the hurt you can hold so deep inside.


Slowly his breathing returned to normal.  Our breathing became synchronized as we lay there together for a while.  He lifted himself up onto his elbows and looked into my eyes.  He lowered his head and kissed me passionately on the lips.   I kissed him back.  Our hands began to caress the other.   It was a slow sensual dance of hands and bodies.  After a few minutes of absolute heaven we caught each other’s eyes and stopped.  We stared at one another for a moment.  Then Tom put his head down between my cheek and shoulder.  My mind began to race with the serious cold facts that this was going headlong into a legal abyss.  What to me seemed so natural was against the law.  I could go to jail till my hair turned gray, even if Tom never said a thing.  I didn’t know if he understood this but I had to tell him, sooner than later, at least at some point tonight.   Anyway, whatever our relationship was to become, if it were to be sexual we would have to wait until January when it wouldn’t mean a life in Sing Sing.  As I was lost in these thoughts Tom fell asleep.  Soon, I too dozed off.


The silly giggling of some infomercial awakened me.  Tom was still asleep on top of me.  I looked at my watch; it was almost 2:30AM.   I rubbed my hands down Tom’s lower back and he began to stir.  He raised his head and with half opened eyes smiled and put his head back down.

“Hey, come on. Let’s get into bed.” 

I gave him another light jostle and this time he lifted himself off me and rolled to the back of the couch. After sitting up, I fumbled for the remote and clicked off the TV. 

I stood and turned around; “Come on Goldilocks, time for bed.” 

As he swung his feet to the floor, I grabbed his arms and helped him up.  We both shuffled down the hall and into the bedroom. 

“Do you want to sleep with me or do you want me to make up the couch?” 

Something compelled me to give him the choice.   He shook his head yes and then no answering the questions in order.  Tom began to undress, so did I.  I was about to pull off my jeans but stopped because I always slept naked and didn’t want to offend Tom. I turned around to him. He had taken his shirt and socks off and was removing his pants.  He had never put the underwear on!  He got under the covers and nestled into the sheets, ready to get back to sleep.  I took off my jeans and climbed in.  Tom snuggled up to my back.  We were like two spoons.  We’ll talk in the morning, I thought.  

“Night, Tom.”  

“Night, Pete,” he softly mumbled. 

I listened for the ticking of the watch looped around the bedpost, smiled, and quickly fell asleep.


It was just after eight AM when I awoke.   I couldn’t believe that I had slept so late. During the night, the two of us had separated.  Rising, I headed to pee.   Through the window above the toilet I could see the sunshine reflected off of the buildings and the street.  The stained glass upper pane glowed brilliantly sending multicolored sparkles across the white subway tiled walls.  The air was clear and crisp outside; there was that beautiful quality of light that happens less than a dozen times a year in New York. Mixed amongst the trash and clumps of soggy mush of paper were thousands of wet leaves, downed branches were scattered everywhere.   I went to the kitchen and looked out at the yard.  “Not too bad,” I thought to myself.   It needed a good grooming before and now there was no excuse.  It was time to get it ready for winter anyway.   I looked at the thermometer; the temperature was in the low 40’s.  My standard gardening outfit of T-shirt and shorts would not be appropriate anymore this year.


I walked four steps down the hall and looked in the bedroom door.  Tom was sleeping peacefully.  I wondered when he last had a truly good night’s sleep. I went back to the kitchen, got my yoga mat and rolled it out across the vinyl tiled floor.  I meditated for five minutes and then began my yoga routine.   Within 25 minutes I was sweating in a steady stream, strongly breathing in well-measured and even breaths continuing with a methodical grace moving from asana to asana.  This was my short routine that lasts a little over half an hour and I was down to the last few finishing poses.  I was in Halasana, the pose beyond shoulder stand in which you bring your feet over your head to touch the ground.   I stayed in this pose for twenty-five breaths. 


“I’m jealous!”  

My heart jumped having completely forgotten that someone else was in the apartment.  I regained my composure and moved into the next pose, putting my knees next to my ears.  I heard Tom moan softly.  Soon I came out of the pose and went into “fish” pose as the counter measure to shoulder stand series, then I went on into final relaxation.   Once I sat up I did a short meditation and then stood.  I looked across at Tom he was standing naked by the sink.  I admired his beauty and grace as he stood at ease.   I walked over to him and gave him a peck on the cheek.  

“Good morning.”    

He looked at me and said, “You could probably lick yourself like a dog!” I was slightly taken aback by his comment, although I had thought of it and tried it on occasion.

I looked him right in the eye and said, “So,” giving him a cheeky smirk of my own.  “I bet you could do it to if you tried,” I added as I wiped a few beads of sweat from my brow with my hand. 

“What were you doing?”  

“Yoga,” I said simply.  

“Ok…I guess I’ll find out more about that in time too.”  

“If you stick around me long enough you will.  It is a definite part of me and what I’m all about.  Now, I’m about to make some coffee.  Do you want some?  And then I’m gonna go take a shower.” 

“Can I join you? I’m dressed for a shower already!”

Cocking my head I said, “Sure, but we’ve got to have a serious shower.”  


“Just come on.”   I clicked the coffee pot on, turned, grabbed his hand and led him into the bathroom. 

“Hey, this place seems familiar.  Déjà vu, in a way.”  

“Oh please,” I groaned as I cranked on the water.  I adjusted the curtain and spun the knob to start the showerhead.  “After you my good man.”  He stepped in and I followed. 

“So what is this “serious shower” business,” he said as he took the soap in his hands and began to lather my chest.  

“Well, it has a lot to do with what is happening now,” I replied as I looked down.  Both of us were getting hard and it was the first time that I had a chance to see him erect. 

He looked at me and smiled, “You should have seen it when you were doing yoga!”  

“Tom, the serious part is that until you turn 17 we can’t legally have sex…well, unless we go to New Jersey or Connecticut but that has its own complications…Look, I don’t think I can even be here in the shower with you.” 

“But I wouldn’t tell a soul!” 

“That doesn’t matter; anybody having even an inkling of it could mean hell for us both.  And any proof could send me to jail for a lot longer than you’ve been alive…and I’m not shittin’ you at all.” 

He looked at me with sad eyes, “I didn’t know.” 

“It’s alright, I don’t know where this whole thing is going.  I don’t know if you know either.”  I put my arms around him and pulled him close as the water ran down our shoulders and sides.  Our cocks slid up between us. 

“For someone who has been in my life but twelve hours I have serious feelings for you…stronger than I’ve had in a very long time.  I think that we need to think this thing through.” 

Tom looked at me, “Well, the next three and a half months are going to seem like forever, but, oh well.”  We let go of our embrace and kissed. 

“For the moment let’s just enjoy ourselves and get to know one another,” I said with a big grin.  He handed me the soap.


I began to soap my stomach and thighs and then handed the soap back to Tom.  We got lost in a simple banter of thoughts that began to build upon each other’s ideas and feelings.  We were getting to know one another.  By the time we had finished washing ourselves it seemed as if we had know each other for years.


Tom turned the taps and the water ceased.  I handed him a towel and got one for myself. 

“I’m starved!” 

“Me too,” I said.  

I took my towel and dried off Tom’s back as he was bent over working on his legs and feet.   He returned the favor as I dried my head. 

“After we’ve had breakfast you’ve got to help me in the Garden if you would.” 



Tom put back on the clothes he had on last night with a comment that he wouldn’t wear anything else today. 

“I feel like me in this outfit. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know, but this is what I want to wear.” 

“Ok, Ok, I can work with that.  Doin’ laundry’s not one of my passions so the less of it the better.”  

“I don’t mind laundry at all so I’ll do it.” 

“OK by me, now I don’t mind doing it either, but hey, I’ll work with you.” I got out some cereal, juice and sliced some bread for toast.   As I poured the coffee I said, “Tom?” 


“Will you tell me why you want to stay here?”  There was another long pause as he filled his bowl with cereal and milk.  

He ate a couple of mouthfuls, licked his lips and said in a strong determined voice, “I want to stay here more than anything else in the world because I want to be with you. I have this amazing feeling of needing to share my life with you…and besides, I feel that this is more of a home than I have ever known before.”  Then all of a sudden he looked at me with a worried look and furrowed brow.  His breathing became heavy, almost labored and he said, “And…and…also I…I…I don’t have anywhere else I can go.” His voice had trailed off by the end of the sentence. 

“Tom, don’t worry, I don’t WANT you to go anywhere! I feel like the luckiest man in the world right now.  I guess I’m just a little unsure of myself and why you want to be here with me.”  

“Oh, Pete, I feel more towards you than anyone I’ve ever met.  When you opened the door last night and the light came down between the cracks on top of me I felt this presence, barely conscious as I was. And then when you picked me up I was overwhelmed with it and knew that I was going to be OK.  In a way I don’t want to question what we have here I just want to live it.”  

I couldn’t agree any more wholeheartedly.  We grabbed each other, never wanting to let go.  I think at that moment we were both praying that we never would.

“Tom, OK, from this moment on this is OUR house, we’re partners.” 


As I wiped away a tear from his cheek I was struck by what I had just said.  I had just let a total stranger become part of my house and my life!  What was I thinking?  Was I crazy?  I was just not like that.  I had just committed to something so far beyond my character that I was scared.  I was also as sure of myself as I had ever been in my life.  I began to chuckle and then laughed out loud causing Tom to look at me with that worried grin again.

“Oh, by the way, what’s your last name?  If you are going to live here I’m going to have to put your name on the mailbox.” 

I got a broad smile from Tom. 

“Petersen, Thomas Nathaniel Petersen.  That’s Petersen with all E’s.” 

“Mine’s Peter Gerhard Langer.  Glad to meet you Mr. Petersen.”  I stuck out my hand. 

“Damn glad to meet you Mr. Langer, “Tom said laughing as he reached out and shook my hand. 

“Welcome home,” I replied.