Journey to Love

Chapter Forty-four

Back Home

by Sequoyah

Edited by Cole, Peter and Scott



Since 'early to bed; early to rise' was SOP for us, getting up and ready for the trip to Flagstaff was no problem. My flight left at 8:45, so I needed to be at the airport not later than 7:15. Everything was packed in the Land Rover ready to roll before we went to bed. We were up, had breakfast and headed for the Land Rover before 3:30. As we walked arm-in-arm, Jayden said he would drive for a while but he doubted he could make the whole trip because his leg was still weak. I reminded him he had only his first permit and that required someone twenty-one sitting beside him. Of course, he had been driving, as who was going to stop and check him for his license in the middle of the desert, but soon we would be on the interstate. “Besides,” I said, “you may be needed to help drive back since Kathryn wants to get back today. I'll drive because all I'll do the rest of the day is sit on my ass.”


“And a nice ass it is,” Jayden said, slapping me on the butt.


“Pretty nice one you have as well,” I grinned. I guess after our statements last night and the fact that we would not be alone again, we felt free to joke around a bit.


Kathryn again climbed into the back seat and went to sleep or appeared to do so.


We had been driving for half an hour just talking about nothing at all when we fell silent. Finally, Jayden said, “Derek, I meant what I said last night,” and rested his hand on my thigh.


“So did I,” I responded. “If I stayed...”


“But you're not. Maybe that's good. We'll have time to get acquainted with the people we are, not who we used to be. I had thought that would be easy for you since you are going back into the environment you left, but I woke up last night and thought about that for a while. Sure, I'll be going into an environment I do not know and some assumptions and expectations will be placed on me. It'll be like going to a new school, I guess. You, on the other hand, are returning to an environment in which you are, all will assume, known. Unconscious expectations and assumptions abound. You'll be struggling with being who you have become, not only having to deal with the assumptions of others, but questioning your sense of who you have become. Derek, I know it's true for you, but maybe it's more so for me: I don't want to blow this. I have too much to lose.”


“So do I, Jayden, so do I.” I rested my hand on his and glanced at him. He was smiling. For the rest of our trip, the conversation was casual and light.


We had no trouble getting to the airport and getting me checked in on time. We had a cup of very bad coffee, prolonging the time before the three of us were separated. Finally, almost simultaneously we sighed and stood. “Son, you are special and I love you dearly,” Kathryn said as she hugged me.


“So are you, Mom, and I love you. Be well.” I knew Kathryn would wait there for Jayden so we could say goodbye.


We walked, hand-in-hand, to security. When we reached it, we both reached for the other and embraced in a hug, then as we started to break the hug, looked into each other’s eyes and our lips slowly came together in a tender kiss. We finally broke it, and as we looked into each other’s eyes, Jayden gave me a quick kiss, turned and ran. I walked through the scanner and as I did, someone called out, “Faggot!” I ignored him. I knew who I was and wished he had been able to say the same.


I had the window seat and a young woman, dressed for business, took the seat beside me. As she seated herself, she said, “You're a lucky dog. You have very kissable lips and a real handsome dude to kiss them.”


I chuckled, “Thanks, but that was our first kiss and maybe our last, but certainly the last one for months.”


“Don't know you or him, but you sure make an interesting couple.”


“Well, we're not exactly a couple, just very close friends.”


“Likely story.”


“Maybe in the future we'll be more than friends, only time will tell.”


“If I may ask, how did you meet him?”


I had to laugh and had a hard time getting my laughter under control. When I did, I said, “Well, to tell the truth, he was thrown away in the desert and I picked him up and brought him home.”


“This I have to hear!” For the next several minutes I gave her a very shortened account of finding Jayden.


“He's not Jayden Fulton is he?”


“He is.”


“Wow, then you are the hero who saved him and brought down Big Walt, started the process of cleaning up the Phoenix Police Department and exposed a kiddie porn business. You are famous.”


“Hardly,” I replied.


“Hardly? Have you been in the boonies all summer.”


Then I did laugh and said, “As a matter of fact I have -- no phone, no TV, no newspapers and miles from anything.”


“Well, take it from me, you're famous.” If I was, no-one in Phoenix had seemed to know or care.


I had a three-hour layover in the airport in DC and could almost have rented a car and driven to Norfolk in that length of time, but didn't. I had called Levi when I got to Phoenix and he would pick me up when I got to Norfolk. He said Louis and Caroline had moved back into their place the day before, so my place was waiting for me.


When I finally landed in Norfolk I was ready for a long shower and bed. I let Levi drive and asked how things were going.


“Well, your place is ready for you. Louis and Caroline spent Thursday moving back into their place and Friday and Saturday cleaning and making sure they left everything at your place in perfect condition. He swears this is his last year, but he keeps dragging his feet on his dissertation.


“Jeremy will be back in the morning. He had a good summer. Everyone else is back. Louis, Drs. Bailey and Levey worked out your schedule. Looks like hell on earth to me. Classes start Tuesday, so you'll have one day to get acclimated after a summer among the savages,” Levi chuckled.


“Levi, I know you are just kidding and mean no harm, but what you just said is the same as someone calling you a faggot. I spent a summer among wonderful people who are far from savage and, in fact, the only savages I saw were white men who did kiddie porn, attempted murder and forced young boys and men into prostitution. So, please, never use that word again, at least in my presence.”


“Sorry, Derek, I meant no harm.”


“Neither do most of those telling faggot jokes, but they hurt just the same, right?”


“Right. So when are we going to hear about your summer?”


I said, “I suspect for the next nine months,” and laughed. “But I'll get some photos together and talk about it one evening. Levi, I think I grew up this summer and I know the person who flew into Flagstaff three months ago and the one who flew out are, in many ways, two different people.”


We pulled into the garage and Levi helped me take my things in. When we finished, I asked, “Know when Auntie is arriving?”


“I left you a note. You're to pick her up Tuesday.”


“Up to pizza and beer? Well, if there's beer here.”


“There is. Louis said he put a case in the fridge.”


I ordered pizza and while we waited, we had a beer. “So how's your love life? Telvin still the one?”


“Telvin is the one, Derek. We decided we needed a break from each other...”


“Excellent idea,” I interjected.


Levi looked a bit puzzled, but continued, “I went home to the estate for four weeks, making sure it was being maintained. I realized it was foolish to have it sitting there costing money when I could not see using it for at least two and probably more years. Luckily, a real estate agent knew a company that was looking for a place for headquarters, but wanted a house away from large cities, not an office park situation. They are storing most of the furniture and have moved in upscale office furnishing and done some much-needed rewiring and are paying a bundle in rent. I leased it for five years. If I need it before then, I can buy out the rest of the lease. That settled, I flew to Japan for three weeks. Telvin went home for the month, but left after a week when his mom kept shoving women at him and his dad chose to refer to him as his faggot son. He went to the outer banks of North Carolina and was a beach bum for three weeks. When the month was over, we met in a beach house near Kitty Hawk and talked about what we had found out about ourselves, about each other and our relationship. Recommend such for any couple.”


“I agree. So Jeremy's back tomorrow?”


“Arriving tomorrow at some unholy hour like 6:30am. Telvin's picking him up. I think he had what he thought was a growing relationship which turned out to be a summer romance when the boyfriend returned from Europe. The kid needs to learn to take things slowly.”


“I agree.”


The pizza arrived and we opened another beer. “So what about your love life? When's Wolf to arrive?”


I knew the moment was coming and I had pushed it to the back of my mind, but there were two people in the world that I wanted to share the whole story with: Levi and Jeremy. I took a deep breath and said, “He's not coming back to my place and probably will not be coming back to OCU. It's a long story which started when he refused to allow -- and I choose the words advisedly -- me to go to the clinic because we'd be separated for twelve weeks.” I then told Levi the whole story and finished by saying, “I'll not go into my twelve weeks in Arizona, but I will say after four weeks I had a chance and called Wolf. The call went to voice mail even though it was 2:00 in the morning in Atlanta. He finally called back at 4:00. He had been partying all night, which seemed to be usual, especially on weekends. He and his gay buddies were playing musical beds and he hinted he was experimenting with drugs -- ‘just a little coke’. Before the call was over, I realized I didn't know him. I did a lot of thinking about that.


“Jeremy and I are extremely close friends, I can't imagine being closer to anyone. Our sexuality imposed a boundary on our becoming more, but had we both been gay, we would have had a solid foundation for our relationship -- our friendship, not our sex life. I realized that Wolf and I had never given each other time and distance to really become friends. You are next closest to me as a friend. We did have a sexual relationship, but we were friends first. We remained friends when the sexual relationship ended because the friendship came first. You and Jeremy are mysteries in that no human being can completely know another, but I do know you and Jeremy. I know your core values, I know your likes and dislikes, I can sense your moods. I could never do that with Wolf because I didn't know him. We were too busy in bed or elsewhere to get to know the person behind the cock, to be blunt about it.”


“Wow, no wonder you thought Telvin and I taking time to be apart was important. I'd say you learned a hell of a lot this summer even if that is all you learned. I think Telvin and I are in the process of learning that, of working on growing our friendship and just haven't been conscious of it but, tell me, did you meet a friend?”


I laughed and said, “You'll never believe this, but I picked one up out in the desert.”


“You picked one up?”


“Literally, but I'll tell you the whole story later. Found out today it kinda made a big splash in the Southwest and even had a bit of a ripple here as it drove a few more nails in Brother Fitzsimmons’ coffin.”


“Guess I missed it while I was in Japan. Derek, I know you're exhausted, so I'll leave and let you hit the bed, but thanks for being my friend. I am deeply honored to be called friend by you but, now, straight to bed.”


“Not until I have been in the Jacuzzi and the shower until I am prune skinned. Tomorrow I plan to dive until I can't climb to the platform.” We embraced and he gave me a brief kiss on the lips.


I began to stir at 6:15, Norfolk time, but realized I didn't have to get up and went back to sleep only to be awakened by the god-awful noise of the living room sound system playing something no-one could call music, at full volume. I staggered to the bathroom, pissed and staggered on into the living room. As I did, the CD changed and 'Hail to the Chief' poured from the speakers. I didn't have to open an eye or guess: Jeremy had arrived. He turned down the volume and grabbed me in a bear hug and for the first time in a long while kissed me and I mean really kissed me. Since I’d still had the remains of my morning woody, in a nanosecond my hard cock was pressing against Jeremy's leg. He put his hands on my shoulders and held me away from himself, looked down and said, “Glad to know it didn't get mistaken for a snake and shot off. Welcome home, Brother. Damn, Derek, its only 5:00 where you've been. Sorry to wake you.”


“Jeremy, my brother, when I got to sleep in, it meant sleeping until 5:00. Damn, it's good to see you!”


“Likewise, Derek, and for what it's worth coming from a straight man, you are looking great. The summer has done you good.”


“In many more ways than one and for what it's worth from a gay man, you look hot as ever.”


“Yeah, well, maybe some straight woman will discover that one day. So where's Wolf?”


“Not sure. So far as I know, he's in New York or Atlanta.”


“Trouble in the playhouse?”


“No playhouse.” I then told Jeremy much the same thing I had told Levi.


“Don't get me wrong, Derek, Wolf is a great guy, but he definitely was not for you. For all the flighty drama queen he projects, Wolf knows what he wants and he has always gotten it. Of course, to Wolf's mind, you agreed not to go to Arizona when he objected. That's the way things work for Wolf, Whatever Wolf wants, Wolf gets.”


“Jeremy, I hope you can put that in the past tense now.”


“I hope so too. Anyway, when Wolf was offered the internship, of course he took it without asking you. It was what Wolf wanted and therefore there was no reason to discuss it. Bottom line, you two could never have been friends.”


I thought about that a great deal over the next few days.


“Look, Louis, Philip, Levi and Telvin are downstairs fixing breakfast. Peter wanted to be here, but he started classes today. Throw on some shorts and a tee and come down. Bring pictures.”


“Later on the pictures,” I replied.


After breakfast, I suggested we take our coffee upstairs and I'd show a few pictures. I had prepared a disk of the people, the clinic, the horses and a few of the places we had patients and some scenery. What I had forgotten was there was also a folder of me and Jayden.


I had shown all those I intended to show and had turned away from the screen when Levi asked, “Is that what you picked up in the desert? Damn! Derek, Baby. He's hot!”


I turned and saw a photo taken at the Pueblo the day of Richard and Lupe's wedding. I guess for the first time I saw him through the same eyes Levi was looking through and I agreed, he was damn hot. “Yeah, Levi, I picked that up in the desert.” As the photos of Jayden and me, separately and a few together, flashed on the large flat screen, I told his story which, I realized was also my story.


When I had finished, Telvin said, “So you have a new boyfriend.”


“No, neither of us would agree to that.”


Philip asked. “So when will you see him again?”


“Maybe over the holidays, or maybe not until spring break and maybe not until next summer.”


“Man, I’d hate to see your phone bills!” Louis laughed.


“No phones where he is.”


“Well, email is free.”


“And equally unavailable. We can write as he gets snail mail once a week, but we both are going to be very involved where we are.”


“Don't know about Jayden but, guys, Derek's schedule for next semester looks like one of those nightmares where the Registrar gets pissed off and just keeps punching keys and adding nastier and nastier classes. The guy's a rising junior already as soon as he gets his credit for the summer,” Louis said.


“And you're entering your third year writing a dissertation for which you have done the research and which, by the way, will be outdated soon,” Philip said.


“I know, I know. Done and submitted by New Years.”


Talk turned to the aquatics team. Levi had observed the new arrivals and thought there was potential there. “Well, I got to swim twice this summer, both times in a motel pool. No diving.”


“Only twice?”


I laughed, “I was in the desert, remember? After the first three weeks, we were using more water than we were collecting, so showers were like a minute to get wet, soap up and two minutes to rinse off. Today I see if I can still swim, much less dive.”


“What if you can't keep your scholarship?” Jeremy asked.


“The only way I can lose it this year is by dropping the dive team. I got so little to sign on, this year was promised. Besides, the night before I left, Kathryn told Jayden and me the clinic had gotten a large ongoing grant which included money for summer interns. We were given one retroactively. I'll do okay.”


After breakfast, Levi, Jeremy and I went to the pool where we were greeted warmly by Coach Rowe. “Lot of practice this summer guys? Ready to take some medals?”


Levi laughed, “Coach, Derek told us a short time ago he was in a pool twice -- a motel pool.”


“Problem, son?”


“Yeah, the desert is kinda dry.”


“Well, let's see if you have still got it.”


I decided I’d best start on the lower platform and, I'll admit, any dive I made after my first year diving could not have been much worse. I could see the pained expression on Coach's face. I climbed the platform again, collected myself and dived: not perfect, but not the worst I had done from this platform. After half a dozen dives, I climbed to the upper platform and executed a near-perfect dive.


I swam over to Coach and said, “I think I'll get the hang of it again.” He had a smile on his face as he extended a hand and pulled me from the water.


We went to the student center for lunch and several women from one study group or another joined us. Louis and Caroline came over to the table and Louis handed me my schedule. “As soon as you're settled in your classes, call Dr. Bailey and he will get back to you for an appointment for the two of you and Dr. Levey to work out the two-hour independent study. Man, eighteen hours and diving. Good luck!” After he left, my schedule became a topic of discussion and we all agreed study groups would be formed quickly.


After lunch, I went home to an empty house. Strange, I had spent hours and hours alone all summer, but never felt the same emptiness I felt when I got home. I’d never felt something was missing, now I did. Part of it was the strangeness of my place without someone sharing it, I was sure. I had decided I'd not call Wolf until he called, but rethought that decision and decided that was being petty. I dialed his number and just before the call went to voice mail, a sleepy voice said, “This is Wolf.”


“Wolf, Derek. Not a good time?”


“Honestly, it's not, but I do want to talk. Can you call back at six or seven this evening?”




“Thanks.” I guess Wolf was still partying.


I spent the next couple hours sorting photos. Some I wanted to work into various slide shows, some I wanted to print, some I wanted to include in my final paper for the summer's independent study final report. I copied those I wanted printed onto a flash drive and decided to see about getting them printed today. I recalled the shop where I purchased the camera had a custom printing service and that was what I wanted. I put the photos into folders according to the size print I wanted and drove to the shop.


As I walked in, a voice said, “I was right, wasn't I? You took more photos with the point and shoot than with the other camera.”


“You remember me?”


“Sure, Derek, I don't sell that fine an outfit every day.”


“Well, you were correct, Mr. Campbellton, but I also took a few hundred with the expensive camera as well.”


“So how many?”


“How many did I take or want printed?”




“I took about a thousand, many of which were deleted immediately, but I think I have about seven or eight hundred to work with. I have twenty-five I want printed.”


“All the same size?”


“No. I want to do several sizes. Would like to do a hundred or so but I haven't had time and from the looks of my schedule after today I'll have to schedule time to breathe.”


“I'm not busy, so let's take a look.”


The next hour we manipulated the photos, mostly cropping. As we finished each photo, it was sent to the printer. I had poster prints of Jayden, the two of us together and of us on Sundancer and Skywalker. I selected photos of Kathryn, Richard, Lupe and Jayden for eight by tens. Others I selected for other sizes including a panorama shot of the canyon with the clinic. When they were all printed, I noticed they were printed on very high quality art paper and there were several sixteen by twenty-fours. This was going to take a real bite out of my wallet.


“Make you a deal, Derek,” Mr. Campbellton, said. “Printing's free if I can display the sixteen by twenty-fours and you'll spend the same amount as the printing would cost on matting and frames.”


“You got a deal.” I left with black metal frames for the posters, nice plain wood frames for the eight by tens and loads of mats and ‘no frame’ mounts.


Back home, I got to work matting and framing photos. The first ones I did were two poster-sized prints of Jayden. One was of him dressed for the wedding. He was Navajo and a very proud and beautiful one. The second one was made when we found a tiny trickle of water spilling over a cliff. We had been riding for a couple hours, it was very hot and the water was sure inviting. Jayden started stripping and running toward the water. Naked as the day he was born, he stood with his back to the camera, arms apart and stretched above his head, the very picture of being alive. I loved it. Those went in my bedroom as did some eight by tens of my summer family. In the library I placed photos mostly of the country, including the panorama. The living room also had scenic photos, but included photos of the people I met and hoped I had served.


At 4:00 Levi called and said he had reservations for a private room at a nice but inexpensive place if I wanted to go. I leapt at the chance. I knew everyone except Patsy, Casey’s date. Casey was renting a place at Levi's. We had been there less than twenty minutes when I thought to myself, ‘There's Marissa in another eight or so years.’ Not only was she an airhead, she was rude, whiny and obviously ready to fuck as she had her hand down the front of Casey’s pants most of the time, clearly embarrassing him.


We had finished dinner and Casey reached down to pull Patsy's hand from his pants yet again. She gave him a grin, and stuck out her tongue to lick her lips. In a grade school teacher voice, Casey said, “Derek, I understand your 'What I did on my Summer Vacation' is pretty interesting and comes complete with photos. Would you share with the class?”


“Well, I discovered today there are over seven hundred of them, but I do have a disk of selected ones. You want to see them and listen to boring me, why not?” As soon as I answered, cell phones came out and before I knew it, we were back at Auntie’s house with twenty-five or so people packed in the living room.



Contact: You can contact Sequoyah at

Map: I keep a map with pins marking where readers live. I would appreciate an email from you so you can be pinned.


Donate: Bandwidth costs real money. A donation to Awesome Dude—convenient button provided—will help keep Awesome Dude sending good stories your way.