One month left of our life in New Orleans. Each evening we would purge a closet, a box, a drawer or a shelf of anything that wasn’t worth moving. It was time to erase any silly sentimentality. Both Dan and Jason didn’t have much to do but help me. They had done their major paring down when they moved in. It was my time now. Five years of class notes, drawings, sketches, models, Mardi Gras beads, cups and doubloons, ticket stubs from movies enjoyed and Tulane football games, remembrances of dates, places, people and events - I would keep most as just the memories that they were.
I made sure that I photographed all of my architectural models that ringed the wall near the ceiling in our bedroom before they befell a series of deviant tragedies that the three of us cooked up. The few that meant something to me were boxed up to save. I organized and packed all of my drawings and sketches that I felt were necessary for my archives when I was a “famous” architect. Dan and Jason doubled the quantity I wanted to keep. I’m glad they did. We had so much fun looking at all of the drawings and my telling of the stories that went with them. How I saw the world when I drew each of them fascinated my husbands. Jason made the astute comment after reviewing the sketchbook from my life drawing class how much more feeling and expressive were the drawings of men over women. “Duh,” was my reply. They were from my freshman year. I showed them my favorite. It was a male in a reclining position. The body, especially the face, was very loose and sketchy, the groin and thighs extremely detailed and beautifully shaded. “I love what that drawing says to me,” I told them. “You were really horny, weren’t you?” Dan stated more than asked. I pointed to a yellowish stain in the corner of the drawing and told them that I beat off to the drawing in the bath across the hall from the class not five minutes after it ended. They smiled, but wanted to bust a gut over that statement. I loved them for their respect.
I tossed many a book into the corner of the room. Some were trash, a few were picked up by Dan, and most I would try to resell. Jason made sure he scanned through each one before stacking them up neatly. He took a couple of art history books for himself and my astronomy class book.
Steve kept complaining because for three weeks there was no room in the trash cans we put out twice a week for the regular garbage and the fact that I kept pestering him to bring home the empty paper boxes from his job every day. The boxes with lids that house the reams of paper copiers use were my choice to pack with. As the days went by the stack of boxes along the living room wall grew into a grid ten long five high and two deep. We kept asking ourselves how the three of us had amassed so much shit.
As Steve and I worked to split the kitchen up Katie would bring boxes of her stuff over to fill the voids. Katie and Steve had decided to live together officially once we were gone. She was going to move in slowly over a two-month period as her lease ran out, leaving her furniture there until there was real room here to place it, not that we were taking much more than the bedroom, the Danish Modern sofa and the kitchen table set. All of the other living room stuff was Steve’s although he wanted me to take the La-Z-Boy. Dan and I didn’t want it because it was such a ratty old thing. It became the running joke of the month, a fake argument between the three of us. I could still feel Dan’s breath on my face and the taste of his lips in that split second after he first kissed me. I think that meant more to me than the chair it happened in.
I got a call from a friend of mine, Dave Frank, David Allen Frank, the man with three first names. I called him Daf or Daffy much to his dismay but with acceptance, as Fitz had done. He called when he found out about our impending departure and wanted to wish us luck and asked what we were doing that last weekend before we left.
“I don’t know. I don’t think we have thought about it,” I said.
He offered for us to come down to his family’s camp on Grand Isle for a few days if we liked “Just to get away and decompress before packing the truck and heading out,” he said.
I thought it was a great idea. Dan and Jason did too. Steve and Katie were also invited. I told him he was a godsend for offering this to us, and everyone else agreed.
All was packed but the furniture. The truck was reserved and ready to be picked up on Wednesday morning. My dad had set up some contacts for apartments in New York and we could always commute for a couple of weeks if absolutely necessary. We would have ten days to find an apartment once we showed up. We felt very confident and secure in our planning of our life. There was nothing left but to have two days of relaxation and rest.
Dan, Jason and I got into the black Rabbit. Steve and Katie were in her deep blue Renault “Le Car” with the “Fun Roof”. Our little convoy headed for the bridge, going due east to get to the West Bank, then back west and south through Marrero, Des Allemandes, and Raceland, then on to Route 1. We continued through Mathews, Larose, Cut Off, Galliano, Golden Meadow, Leeville and then out over the bridge onto Grande Isle. It’s a cigar shaped mound of sand perched between the bayous and the Gulf of Mexico with a few hundred homes and fishing camps, or vacation homes. It had just gotten dark when we arrived.
“Hey, Daf,” I called out as David came out and down the long flight of steps to the ground. Almost all of the houses are built on pilings at least ten feet off the ground as insurance against the storms that could easily send waves across the entire island. His house was a rectangle twenty-four by sixty feet with a corrugated metal hip roof. Inside the living room is more like a porch, twelve by sixty feet, with a continuous row of wide double hung windows that open to the breeze and the gulf. Three bedrooms, a kitchen and a bath plus storage occupy the other half and open directly onto the living room. It was simple living, fun living, a place where you could easily turn off the rest of the world.
“Hey Pete, Dan, Jason, Steve and lovely Katie.” He shook our hands in order as we got out of the cars and gave Katie a kiss.
“Hey, how does she rate a kiss?” Jason said, needling Dave.
“’Cause she’s the prettiest one,” Dave came back.
“That’s only your opinion,” Jason countered.
Dave was probably the straightest person I knew both in character and sexually. He was confident with himself and easy going and he was the best damn carpenter I had ever met in my life. He could build a house or an intricate piece of furniture. Dave slapped Jason on the ass as he took his duffle bag up the stairs. Jason turned around and smiled. He loved to rib Dave about being straight and Dave knew how to jab him back.
The barbecue was already going and Dave had just been waiting on us to toss things on the grill. We got our stuff stowed in our rooms and hit the bath. Dave stood at the bathroom door handing out beers as we emerged. Then he handed us food to take downstairs to the grill on the lawn. He was more organized than I would ever want to be and was even more fastidious since his recent breakup with a long time girlfriend. It wasn’t long before the six of us were relaxed and kicked back enjoying the breeze off the Gulf as dinner sizzled. A few of Dave’s neighbors wandered over to say hello and see what was cooking but hey soon faded away. I don’t think they were too comfortable with the Three Musketeers. I think Dave enjoyed teasing his neighbors’ conservative sensibilities. As I stood next to Dave he arranged, rearranged, coated, turned and talked to the chicken and steaks that were cooking on the grill. He stirred the seafood gumbo he had made that afternoon. All this was perfectly coordinated with a beer in one hand, a cigarette in his lips and his mind and mouth going a mile a minute.
A mutual friend had introduced Dave and me a few years before. He had received a set of plans from an architect in Minnesota, for a house here in Louisiana. On the phone he told me that the general gist of the house’s design was good, but that the architect knew nothing of the soil or climate conditions that make Southern Louisiana somewhat unique when it comes to foundations and other environmental considerations. Dave needed someone to adapt the plans without upsetting the client and to do it cheap. I was willing to do it more for the experience than the money. When I looked at the plans I knew it was more extensive than what he had told me. In the end, I convinced the client to completely overhaul the design. Dave and I had a lot of fun getting this house built. I gave him small drawings and sketches in lieu of doing a full set of plans. Dave was good enough to fill in between my ideas. Dan wants a house like the one we ended up building. I’ve promised him and Jason something better that was brewing in the back of my mind.
That night Dave and I talked about his latest construction project and he picked my brain for info and ideas. Dan, Steve and Jason played Frisbee on the lawn. Katie spent most of the night relaxed on the slider listening to our chatter and the waves breaking in the distance. The moon was rising. It was full the night before. It seemed as if our lives were full and on the rise too.
By midnight we called it a night. There was a full day of resting in between relaxing tomorrow. Dan, Jason and I weren’t tired at all and we spent half of the night, as quiet as we could, exploring every sexual combination that we could think of. I finally fell asleep on my back in the middle with Jason and Dan’s head on my chest and one leg over one of mine. I was in heaven.
The next morning I heard Steve’s familiar knock and then heard him come in. He saw us still in the same position as when I fell asleep and all the sheets in a heap on the floor. I cracked an eye.
“What time is it?”
“Sorry...I sure wouldn’t mind joining that heap of men,” he said softly.
“Come on,” said Dan in a gruff voice.
Steve looked from side to side, I guess to see if the coast was clear, even though the door was closed.
“OK,” he said and crept forward.
“Boxers, off!” the gruff voice said again.
Steve complied and then nestled in on top of us. Jason awoke to this and kissed him. We all lightly kissed each other, bad breath and all. Steve kissed us all again after a few minutes of snuggling and then slowly climbed off. We all got up and Steve pulled on his boxers.
“Oh, this is not going to work,” he said looking at the tented front. Dan tossed him one of his tees which hung down far enough to cover it.
“Thanks. Love you guys.”
The rest of us pulled on shorts and tees, attempted to rake our hair into manageability, stuck toothbrushes in our mouths and headed for the bath.
“Hey Daf, out in a minute, smells good,” Dan said.
“You got just five, OK.”
“It’ll take at least that long for my hard-on to go down so I can pee,” Jason said to Dave in a sassy voice as he pointed to his shorts and let out an evil laugh. The head of Jason’s cock was sticking out of the leg of his shorts.
Jason turned away and walked on only to be hit in the back of his head by a link sausage.
“Boys,” yelled Katie, “cut it out!” Then she dissolved into laughter, keeling over into Steve’s lap. “Mmmmm,” she said upon putting her face into his lap.
“I should just go back to bed, ‘cause that’s what y’all on gonna do before I get breakfast served,” Dave said, half jokingly. We were on time for breakfast, although Dan did have to slap the young one on his ass to calm him down.
The Three Musketeers spent the entire day within arm’s reach of one another. We were close, closer than most people are in a relationship, but on that beautiful last day of summer, we were tighter than we had ever been. We all knew that in 48 hours we would be on our way to New York, yet we did not want to let go of the life that was ours here. We couldn’t be close enough when we lay shoulder to shoulder on the towel getting some sun, three of us sitting on the little bench just barely big enough for two, or walking hand in hand in hand down the road, much to the chagrin of the neighbors. We were building our strength to take on the world. Dave, Steve and Katie knew it too.
We watched the sun set from the beach. We were up half the night again diving into the physical side of our collective soul. We watched the sun rise from the porch. We listened to the soft breaking of the waves in the distance and the raucous cries of the seagulls. We sat silently, only communicating with smiles, winks and the simplest caresses. We were ready for the quantum leap of change that was about to take place.
Dave appeared in the doorway of his bedroom stretching and scratching.
“Hi, guys,” he whispered, “y’all up early.”
He moved to the kitchen and readied the coffeepot, then ducked into the bath. We looked at each other.
“I love you two,” Jason said quietly, “Like, you didn’t already know.” He put his left hand on my knee. I put mine on top of his, and Dan followed suit.
“All for one and one for all,” I said almost inaudibly.
Dan kissed me and so did Jason. I kissed them back.
“Are you sure you want to give up this quiet for the noise of the City?” I asked.
“It’s time to move from the end of the world to the center of the universe…besides we know the way home,” Dan said with a chuckle.
Dave began pouring cups of coffee.
Katie appeared in her doorway stretching and scratching.
“Y’all up early.”
The four of us laughed quietly, more like bursts of breath than laughter.
“Whatever I said,” Katie mused.
Dave poured one more. The five of us sat shoulder to shoulder on the picnic bench watching the sun continue to lift into the sky, changing from a fuzzy bright orange to a white yellow ball.
“Dave, you are so cool,” Jason said, patting his thigh.
“Jason, thanks, so are you. You have taught me how to be brave.”
The rest of us turned and craned our heads toward the end of the bench. We were curious. Here was strong, confident Dave, nearly ten years older than Jason, saying that he learned how to be brave from him. We were intrigued. Dave saw that he had to explain.
“Well, since New Year’s Eve, when y’all walked up behind him and then he went on and on about how he had lost your number and tried so hard to find you, I was taken with his resolve and determination. He was a kid yet he knew what he wanted. And Dan, when you comforted him, and told him to calm down, he did, but he didn’t cower. And the more I got to know him, as we became friends, he was always brave in the way he accepted himself and accepted others as they were and let it all just be. I’m quite cocky in my own way but he taught me how to be brave about all of my feelings and emotions and to express them. No, Jason, I don’t have any gay feelings. I see those gears spinning under that red hair of yours.” Dave and Jason smiled at each other. “You know that’s why when I figured that the three of you were becoming one that I knew it was cool, really cool, because I knew Jason wasn’t your little boy toy. He was an equal, no ifs, ands or buts about it. And I think that’s why you two accepted him in. You two are so strong together that only someone who was brave enough to stand with you could be let in. Then…and then…it flourished into something far beyond what, I think, any of us could have imagined. That’s why I wanted y’all to come down for this weekend.”
Jason leaned over and kissed Dave on the cheek. Dave blushed. Katie had tears running down her face.
“I smell coffee,” came a rough voice from the doorway.
No one moved or said a word. We all continued to watch the rising sun as we heard Steve shuffle to the coffeepot.
“Sheesh, what a lively group.”
He got his coffee and pulled up a stool next to Katie. He stared at us through his blurry eyes as he sipped at his mug.
“I missed something, didn’t I?”
Katie nodded and wiped her eyes. We all sat quietly as the sun continued on its path. Steve broke the silence when he took the last sip from his mug,
“I hate it that you all are leaving. My heart hurts now that I know it’s more than inevitable…it’s tomorrow!”
We sat, motionless, for a few minutes more.
Dan stood up and spun around to face us, “Last one in the water doesn’t get to kiss me good-bye!”
Chaos reigned, as there was a mad dash to get our swim suits on and out the door. Katie was still trying to get her top hooked up as she ran across the road to the beach. I let everyone pass me by because I knew I would always get to kiss him. Dan and I ran into the surf hand in hand and did a synchronized back flip over the wave. We laughed and laughed till our sides hurt.
By noon we were stuffing our duffle bags and heading for the car. Katie and Steve had left an hour earlier. Steve had class in the morning and had reading to get done and Katie had an afternoon shift to work. Dave walked us down to the car.
“Daf, you’re a oner. I’m goin’ ta miss ya. You know you’ll always be welcome to come stay with us in New York. I mean that…most people have gotten ‘we’ll entertain you,’ but you can stay with us.”
Two heads nodded in agreement.
“Thanks for this weekend. This was absolutely perfect.”
“I’ll miss you too…three,” Dave said, laughing at his joke. “And I will visit. I’ve been there a couple of times and it’s a good place to go when you get tired of this,” he said as he spread his arms out. “It always makes me want to come back!”
I smiled, “OK, Daf. See ya, love you!” I gave him a big hug and rocked side to side.
“Love ya too, Pete.”
We let go and he turned to Jason. “You little so and so, you will have New York eating out of the palm of your hand within six months.”
Jason just looked at him and started to cry, hugged him and sobbed into his chest. If Jason looked to us as big brothers sometimes Dave was the oldest and to have gotten his respect made it that much tougher to leave.
“Come on now, Jason, it’s OK. I promise I will come visit. Not to worry, you’ll still get a chance to needle me some more.”
Jason lifted his head and smiled. “Thanks for everything, Dave,” and then he pinched his butt.
“Why I oughtta…” Dave smiled, cupped Jason’s face in his hands, and kissed his forehead. He turned to Dan, “Take care of these two will ya? One’s too bright and the other’s got balls that are too big for his britches. You take care of them and they’ll take care of you.”
“I know. That’s why I married ‘em! Take care, Dave, and definitely come see us.” They shook hands, hugged, and then Dan bent him over backwards and kissed him on the lips.
“Wow,” Dave exclaimed.
Dan turned to us, “Come on, time to go!” He put an arm around each of our shoulders and kissed us, a wonderful, warm kiss.
“I’m ready,” Jason said with enthusiasm.
“I guess I’m as ready as I’ll ever be,” I said. Dan slapped me on the ass. “OK, I’M READY!”
We waved to Dave and headed for the doors. As I opened the car door to let Jason in the back I felt one of my shivers, an earthquake really. I looked at Jason with a worried face.
“It’s New York,” he said, so he must have had one too.
We climbed in. Dan started the car. I leaned over and kissed him, “I love you.”
“Cool,” he said with a smile. I turned around grabbed Jason and kissed him too.
“I love you.” He winked at me. I spun back around. Dan and I snapped our seat belts. We waved to Dave one last time as Dan backed out of the drive and zoomed off toward the bridge.
Back on Route 1 we fell quiet as we watched the rural bayou scenery float by: seas of reeds, shrimp boats, roads paved with oyster shells and little shanty towns that dot the roadsides. We were just coming up to Golden Meadow when Dan looked into the mirror, smiled at Jason, then turned and smiled at me, “Hey, Loves…”