Chapter Eleven


The week school was out for the summer, Queen Joyce was guest of honor at a bash Joe and Trey threw at their place. She had finally given in and retired. The fact that she had passed out in her office at school and hadn't been discovered for a couple hours had a lot to do with her decision. She was now taking care about her diet and exercise after both her "sons" had really come down on her. The had also laid down the law about her retiring. Trey said she had put up a fight, but both the guys knew it was half-hearted. In addition, she had decided she should retire and enjoy life rather than becoming more and more frustrated with the Mickey Mouse crap she was having to deal with as a counselor. Even she agreed the stress generated by the nonsense definitely contributed to her health-or lack thereof.

Queen Joyce had started calling the yellow brick house at the corner of College and Rugby Oz and Mom promptly started referring to the three living there as the Three Wizards of Oz. Trey responded, "There are two wizards and Queen Joyce!" To which Joe, in his slow Georgia drawl said "There's one wizard and two queens 'cause my beloved is definitely a drama queen." Trey, of course did his "drag queen sans drag" bit.

Sophomore year ended and rising junior summer started Monday. It dawned and I realized Derrick, Keith and I had nothing on schedule until the last two weeks of June. Mom and Dad managed to get time off at the end of the summer, but immediately after school was a very busy time for them. It took a bit of fast talking, but I finally convinced them that Derrick, Keith and I should go to North Carolina for two weeks and when Mom asked, "Rather than in August?" I responded, "No, in addition to." Took a bit of effort on both Dad's and my part, but Mom finally caved.

With Derrick having never been to the place in North Carolina and Keith not having spent a great deal of time there, the days found us wandering all over the place. I showed them places I had discovered when I was just a kid. We explored woods and river, hills and valleys, but while Keith and I never spoke about it, we did not go to the moon watching rock where Keith and I-well, just where Keith and I....

Keith was very sensitive to the need Derrick and I had for time together without a third party present. Derrick and I also tried to be sensitive to him. A couple times when we had been on our own, we'd returned to find Keith very quiet, turned inward. A few times we found him with tears in his eyes. Wednesday, we had happened up on him sitting atop the rock overhanging the river, watching the water flow by, tears streaming down his face. Derrick squeezed my hand, kissed me quickly and left us alone.

I sat down beside Keith, said nothing, put my arm around his shoulders. When I did, he turned to me, put his head on my shoulder and really started bawling. He cried in great sobs for what seemed like ages. When he finally got stopped, he said, "Tom, every time I think I'm getting over LaTasha, it hits me all over again. It's like it just happened. I don't know if I can go on. It just hurts so bad, so very, very bad."

What could I do? I couldn't say I knew how he felt because I didn't. I couldn't tell him he would get over it because I didn't know that he would. All I could do was hold him, hoping he'd find some comfort in my presence.

Keith was very quiet, subdued even after we had been back at the house, had supper and got ready for bed. It was Derrick and my time to clean up after supper. When we started, Keith took a coke from the frig and went outside. Derrick asked what had happened at the river earlier. When I told him he said, "Tom, I'm worried about Keith. You know that first day at the river when Keith told me about LaTasha? Well, since that day, I can't recall hearing him speak her name. It is as if that part of his life was locked away somewhere. I guess I thought he had handled everything and gotten over her death. But this afternoon...."

"Keith had a breakdown in, I think it was October, after LaTasha's death and was hospitalized by a psychiatrist; I believe his name was McCann. He was in the hospital for a week. Then, when he was released, he had a series of sessions with the doctor. I don't know how long he saw him because, now that I think about it, he never mentioned the sessions even though he spent an awful lot of time talking to me. I guess I thought he had done his-what's it called?--grief work. But now I wonder...."

Derrick said, "I guess being here has given him time and space to revisit his grief, the unfinished grief maybe."

"Derrick, I haven't told you all about Keith's struggle with LaTasha's death. He had a pistol and had thought about using it." I then told Derrick about finding the pistol. "We need to remember that." I thought about telling Derrick about the night Keith and I had spent at the moon watching rock, but decided that was too-what? private? Sacred, I guess.

We agreed we'd try to be present to Keith, but give him space for his grief. We talked awhile longer and decided there was nothing we could do beyond being present.

Derrick went to the frig and took out a coke, turned and asked, "Want a coke?"

"No, I think I'll call Dad, Derrick. I am worried."

Dad and I talked for half an hour. He said it was important that we walk a fine line between crowding Keith and not being present to him. "Son, use your best judgment, that's all I could do."

I got a coke and walked outside where Keith and Derrick were sitting on the porch. They were quiet and I just sat down by Derrick who put his arm around me.

It was a typical mountain June night-cool, clear with stars sparkling overhead. The moon had not risen, but the night was pierced by the love light of fireflies.

After we had been just sitting for several minutes, Keith said, "Brothers, I have had a hard day. I started thinking about last summer and how it ended and I just couldn't handle it. You came to the river just at the right time, Tom. And, Derrick, thanks for letting me have time with your lover. I know how precious every minute you have with him is. I sure do. I don't know, but I sometimes think if I could just say goodbye to LaTasha I could get on with my life. I mean, like if I could go to her grave and talk to her...."

Keith fell silent again. The moon was coming up behind the house and its light changing the landscape before us. It was a beautiful night and as I watched the moon, it's beauty only increased the pain I felt for my best friend.

Since we had been waking up and getting up at dawn, we also went to bed early. I suspect all three of us were also exhausted by Keith's grief, in any event, we went inside and went to bed not long after dark.

Derrick and I kissed each other and what would have followed could have been more fantastic sex-love making-but I guess we were subdued by Keith pain. We finally kissed each other again and Derrick lay on his back, looking up at the stars shining through the skylight. I lay on my back, my head on his chest and watched the sky brighten as the moon rose higher.

After we had been silent for a bit, just enjoying being with the man we loved, Derrick turned his face to mine, kissed me softly and said, "Babe, I would feel better if Keith was here with us instead of being alone downstairs."

"So would I," I said. "Why don't you go ask him? That way he'll know it's ok by you and not just his lifelong friend asking him."

Derrick agreed and got up, pulled on his briefs and went downstairs. I realized that I'd probably be wise to put on something as well, got up and pulled on boxers.

Keith and Derrick came walking up the stairs single file-the stairs were very narrow-but when they reached the loft, I saw Derrick had Keith's hand in his. We three got back in bed-Derrick and Keith both insisted I be in the middle-and lay silent, all three watching the moon overhead.

After several minutes, Derrick said, "Why don't we do it?"

Keith and I both giggled. "All three of us can do it at the same time?" I asked.

"Yeah, won't you be jealous?" Keith was still giggling.

"Why? Why would I be jealous?"Derrick asked in a puzzled voice.

"You want me to do it with your boyfriend," Keith asked, trying hard not to laugh.

"Hell, no!" Derrick exclaimed. "You think I'm crazy?"

It was pretty obvious that both Keith and I were playing with Derrick's mind, but it was equally clear we hadn't the foggiest idea what he was talking about. At least I sure hoped I couldn't guess what he had in mind!

"LaTasha is buried in Mississippi, right?" Derrick asked.

"Yeah, so?" Keith responded.

"We have a week and a half, right?" Why don't we take Keith to Mississippi, to LaTasha's grave?" Why don't we do it?"

Well, you can imagine that got us all awake and talking. We decided it was a good idea and we'd go, then I said, "You know Mississippi is a fair sized state. Just how are we going to locate a grave?"

"Oh, I hadn't thought of that," Derrick said. "Guess it was just one of those sounds good-won't work ideas. You know where it is, Keith?"

"I know her mom was from a small town in southern Mississippi near the Louisiana line. I heard her talk about living in Black Bottom, that's where all the black folk lived, she said."

"Probably every little town in southern Mississippi has a Black Bottom," I said. "Not much help. Sure bet there's not a Black Bottom on a map either."

"Wait a minute," Keith said, "I remember LaTasha talking about her grandmother living in-I can't remember how she said it-anyway, I asked her to spell it and when she did, I said that's Carrier, Carrier, Mississippi, and she laughed. As I said, I can't remember how she said it, but Carrier is what it looked like when she spelled it. Her grandmother's name was-damn, I can't think of it."

"Well, let's sleep on it," Derrick said, "but I do think we ought to do it if we can have any hope of locating LaTasha's grave.."

Sometime in the night Keith sat up in bed and said, "White! White! LaTasha's grandmother white!" Two minutes later we were all asleep again.

The sunlight coming through the skylight woke me up at six. Derrick was facing me, his arm over me and his hard cock pressing against mine. Not to be outdone, I suppose, Keith was spooned in to my back, his arm also resting over me and his hard cock pressing against my crack. I felt impaled, but had no complaints. Unfortunately, I had no time to enjoy my situation. I had to hop out of bed and double time it to the toilet. Keith and Derrick were right behind me.

We dressed and fixed breakfast. As soon as we sat down to eat, I said, "So, we know the town and how to locate LaTasha's grandmother."

"We do?" Keith asked.

"Dumbass, don't you remember," I asked. "White. You sat up in bed last night and announced 'LaTasha's grandmother's white. A white woman in southern Mississippi with a black child. She should be easy to locate."

"Hate to be this way, but I think I'd remember it if LaTasha told me her grandmother was white and I don't. I musta been dreaming."

"I guess you were," I said, dejected. "How about her stepfather?"

"Hey, no way, Jose. There is no way I'm having anything to do with that bastard. Thanks for wanting to help, but I don't...Hold up! Not IS white, her NAME is white. No, that's not it either," Keith said as all three or us once again slumped as if we were deflating balloons. "But I wonder why I said she was white, even though I don't remember it. I did say 'Latasha's grandmother is white, right?"

"You sure did, just about scared the shit out of me," Derrick said. "You shot straight up in bed and practically shouted,"White! White! Latasha's grandmother white!" and immediately fell back on the bed, asleep. I was too near asleep to do more than think 'We know how we can located LaTasha's grandmother' before I was asleep again."

"Same here," I said. "As soon as you lay back down, I thought, 'I need to get some sleep since we can find LaTasha's grave and it's a long trip.' I do remember thinking that."

We all ate in silence for a few minutes before Keith asked, "I wonder why I said LaTasha's grandmother's white. There must be some connection since I went to sleep wracking my brain, trying to remember her name. Just a dream, though, so far as I can tell."

When we had finished breakfast, we cleared the table and Keith and Derrick were washing the dishes. Since I had nothing better to do, I was putting the dishes away Keith as dried them. When he turned a plate over to dry the other side, Keith shouted, "That's it!!" as he tapped the bottom of the plate with his dishcloth-covered hand.

"What's it?" Derrick asked, turning from the sink, his hands dripping suds from dishwater.

"Here, look at this plate," Keith said, very excited. "See what its says?"

"'Made in China.' So?" Derrick responded.

"No, no. Look at the name. It's called Blanco and is just plain white."

"Again, if I may be so bold, so?"

"Blanco, white, that's LaTasha's grandmother's name. Blanco!"

"Come to think of it," Derrick said, "you didn't say LaTasha's grandmother is white, just grandmother and white."

In the excitement, we almost forgot to finish the dishes, but when they were all put away, the three of us got a cup of tea and sat at the table, discussing what we'd do. "Ok, we know LaTasha's grandmother's last name is Blanco," Derrick said, opening a discussion of what we would do about a trip to Mississippi.

"I suppose we could tell the locals enough to find out where Mrs. Blanco lives. Couldn't be too many Blanco's in town," I said.

"Her name's Daisy Blanco," Keith said, out of the blue. "I remember her first name because LaTasha said her grandmother was called Miss Daisy when we saw the movie."

We decided we'd go into Clarksville to the library and see if we could locate Carrier, Mississippi or something close. All the time we were talking, I was thinking about how to ask Mom and Dad and not have them say no. I mean, look, taking off for Mississippi from North Carolina was undertaking a pretty long trip AND we weren't sure where we were going.

"I suspect the library won't open until 9 at the earliest," Derrick said as we washed our cups and put them away. "If we're going to make this trip, we may as well get ready to go. If we can't find where we're headed nothing lost."

We packed a few things and decided we were ready to go. I had decided I'd not call the parents. When I told Keith and Derrick, I said, "Better to ask forgiveness than be told no."

I'm not sure Keith and Derrick agreed, but Derrick did say, "This way we'll go and if your mom and dad said no, we'd not go, at least I wouldn't." Keith agreed.

"I just thought of something," Derrick said. "I don't know about you two, but I don't have enough money to buy gas to get to College Park, much less Mississippi."

We counted our cash and had about fifty dollars among us. Once again, we were dejected. Only a fool would head to Mississippi with only fifty dollars. Just as we were about to give up again, I remembered. I had a credit card to be used for emergencies, so we'd put most everything on it. When I told the other two, we all were up again.

"I'm not sure how long I can take this up again, down again emotional roller coaster," Keith said. I agreed.

We were waiting at the door when the library opened and ten minutes after we got on a computer found the town called Carriere. "That's it!" Keith said, obviously excited. When we checked it out on a computer map, Keith was doubly sure when he saw it was in Pearl River county.

"Well, one thing's encouraging," I laughed, "if we have to question everyone in town it won't take long. The population is seven hundred."

The map program said it was just under a twelve hour drive from Clarksville. "Heck we can be there and back before we are missed," I said.

It was 9:30 when we left the city limits of Clarksville behind. We decided we'd change drivers each time we stopped and after I had driven through the mountains from Clarksville to Cleveland, Tennessee, I was ready for Keith or Derrick to take over.

We arrived in Cleveland about quarter of one and decided we'd hit a Wendy's for lunch and restroom break. As we walked in, Derrick said, "How about making this a 'to-go' order and get back on the road?" We agreed.

We had noted that we had the mountains to drive through from Clarksville to Cleveland and a bit of secondary roads outside Carriere, but the rest of the trip would be interstate. Sure enough, with Derrick driving, we pulled out of Wendy's and were on I-75 headed for Chattanooga at almost exactly 1:00.

As we topped the mountain coming into Chattanooga, the view was spectacular. We all commented on how we'd like time to look around and especially to take in the Tennessee Aquarium. We had been seeing billboards announcing it ever since we left Cleveland; but time we did not have.

To say the trip from Chattanooga to Birmingham, Alabama was boring would be an understatement. Interstates are made for speed and convenience, not sightseeing and if that were ever doubted, I-59 from Chattanooga to Birmingham is proof positive of its truth.

It was about 4:30 when we reached Birmingham and stopped for gas. It was, we decided, too early to have dinner, so Keith took over the driving and we headed toward Meridian, Mississippi. Derrick had decided to take the back seat and was curled up in it, fast asleep, practically by the time we left the service station.

It wasn't long before Keith and I were giggling at Derrick's snoring. "He snores gay," Keith laughed.

"He snores gay? Just what do you mean?" I asked, maybe with an edge in my voice.

Derrick was practically flapping the rag top on the car with his snores and Keith said, "You know, all dainty and prissy-like," and just howled laughing.

Well, I am here to tell you the scenery didn't improve as we reached Tuscaloosa, Alabama and continued on our way. I found I was getting sleepy and asked Keith if he was and he said he wasn't. Before I knew it I was waking up as Keith slowed down and took an exit off the highway.

"Good nap?" he asked.

"Sure was," I answered.

"You snore gay too," Keith laughed.

"Where are we?" Derrick asked, raising up in the back seat.

"Meridian, Mississippi," Keith answered.

"So soon?" I asked.

"Speed limit's seventy," Keith said, "and I just kept up with traffic which is traveling closer to eighty. Tom, me and the boys did a damn good job on the New Goose." After my car had been repainted, Gray Goose didn't fit and Derrick had rechristened it New Goose.

"I saw a billboard for a restaurant which looked like an old plantation house and thought Derrick and I could be your 'house niggers' and we'd eat there."

"Hey, remember, this is Mississippi!" Derrick, now awake, said.

"A pretty faux plantation house if I do say so," I said as we pulled in to the drive of a white columned "plantation house."

"Yeah, saw those same columns in Home Depot couple weeks ago," Keith said.

We parked and went inside and the host looked at us rather closely. "He's wondering if we have money to pay or maybe are out to rob the joint," I thought.


Keith nodded.

"Smoking or nonsmoking?"

"Do you have a cigar room?" Derrick asked, more than a little sarcastic.

"Sorry, sir, we do not."

"Then nonsmoking," Derrick responded.

It was just seven so the dining room was about half full and only two tables had a reserved sign on them, yet it was clear we were being shown to a very small table behind some potted palms and practically in the door from the kitchen. As soon as I saw what was going on, I stopped and said, "Thank you, this is ideal," as I walked to a table in a cozy corner which seated four comfortably and could have seated more.

The host really didn't know what to do, so he just more or less tossed the menus on the table and said, "Your server is Josh and he will be with you shortly," with a half sneer and left.

"I think massa be gwine haft lay a whoopen on that nigger," Keith said as he seated himself.

Two minutes later, Derrick saw our server headed our way and said, "Man, I see dessert!" and laughed. When Josh reached the table, even Keith had to acknowledge had he been having "dessert," Josh was quite a dish. He was, indeed, a handsome African-American.

Since he was not busy, Josh asked us where we were from, where we were headed, that kind of thing. He asked why in the world we were headed to Carriere and Keith told him.

"Don't be poking around any Black Bottom in the Delta after dark," he said. "Especially since you have this white boy with you. Be careful. People down there are not sure the Civil War is over, much less that the Civil Rights Act got passed."

We decided we would relax and had a decent meal even if we didn't make Carriere tonight. We talked about that a bit and what Josh had told us and when he came back to fill our water glasses, Keith asked him about our arriving in Carriere tonight.

"No place to stay there in the first place and you still have a ways to go. Why don't you stay in Hattiesburg and go on in the morning? If you decide to do that, let me know. May be able to help you out a bit."

"You recommend it, we'll do it," I said.

"Wise choice," Josh said. When he brought the check, he also brought a coupon for a half-price room at a `motel just off the interstate at Hattiesburg. "If you like, I'll book you in while I have your credit card. That way if there's a room vacant, they'll hold it."

I told him to do so.

It was just after ten when we reached the motel. I went to the registration desk and said, "McCarter, I believe I have a reservation.

Without looking at the computer or room cards, the beautiful young woman-her name tag said, "Janice" said, "You certainly do." She sure reminded me of someone, but I couldn't place who. "Mr. McCarter, I'm sorry we didn't have a room with two beds. The best I can do is a king-size. Is that acceptable?"

I smiled to myself remembering last night when the three of us were in a queen-size. "Sure, no problem," I responded. She handed me the key cards and we found the room.

As soon as we were inside, Derrick took me into his arms and pressed his lips against mine in a passionate kiss, which I quickly returned.

"Don't want to breakup your good time, really. I saw a Super Wal-mart as we were coming in. How about I go over and purchase three inexpensive swim suits? I'll leave yours in the car so you two can have some time together. Man, I owe you a lot more than that, but I can give you that. When you are ready to join me, get your suits and come on out to the pool. Ok?"

In response, Derrick grabbed Keith and kissed him full on the mouth. The first time Derrick did that I wasn't sure what Keith would do. In fact, I was afraid he'd bust Derrick one, but he didn't. He looked puzzled, then smiled and finally just said, "Ok." When I said something to Derrick, he acted as if he didn't know what I was talking about and that was it. Later when I said something to Keith after it had happened a couple more times, he just shrugged and said, "He's just your weird boyfriend and he comes with kisses on the mouth. No problem." But I had never seen Derrick kiss Keith unless the three of us were alone, well, I was sure he wouldn't kiss Keith in public and Keith wouldn't tolerate it if the two of them were alone--I was sure.

Keith was hardly out the door before clothes started flying in every direction.

As soon as we were undressed, Derrick wrapped me in his arms and our mouths met, our tongues began that duel I loved so well. He reached down and took my hard cock in his hand and slowly stroked it as he started breathing through my mouth. Finally breaking the kiss, he said, "Tom McCarter, I love you man! I love you for a million reasons, but one of the important ones is because you love your friends and can't stand to see them suffer. You are one super dude, Tom!"

Before I could answer, Derrick swept me in to his arms and carried me to the shower. He held me as he adjusted the water and his mouth was covering mine as he lifted me into his arms and walked into the shower. We played in the shower, washing each other, licking the water from each other.

After our last talk with Trey and Joe, we had started playing with each others rosebud. We had talked about anal intercourse-both of us hated that name, but what else can you call it? Fucking was another word we didn't like, but Joe and Trey said they sometimes used it when they were making love and "talking dirty."

Anyway, we had both agreed that sometime in the future we'd probably at least try anal intercourse-fuck each other--but we were not in any hurry and not ready yet. Yeah, and Joe said he knew a couple who never did it because they didn't like it and another couple where one liked it and the other didn't. They really emphasized the need to know your partner and follow his lead. "And remember "no" means "NO" Trey had said. But, as Joe and Trey told us, getting ready for anal intercourse took time-time to get ready physically as well as emotionally. So, so long as we had plenty of time, playing with our lover's ass was definitely part of the action and both of us loved it-giving or receiving.

Derrick was facing my back, running his cock up and down my crack while he reached around me and stroked my manhood. Finally I turned around and we brought each other off. After cleaning up, we dried each other and went back into the room. On the bed, we fell into a sixty-nine and as we did, Derrick squirted his hand full of lube and handed the tube to me. I did the same and while we worked on our lover's cock with our mouth and tongue, we worked lube into our partner, following it with a lot of finger work. Sometime after we had started that kind of play, Joe had asked about it and Derrick said, "It's the first time I've found something where getting ready is as good as doing it," to which Joe laughed and said, "Sure sign you haven't done it."

We had asked Joe and Trey about the "sweet spot" we had read about on the internet and they told us about it and both Derrick and I worked very hard to make sure we found it and massaged it while we were engaged in finger play. Derrick found mine and at the same time, his mouth and tongue were performing miracles. Before I could warn him, I started shooting in his mouth and in spite of having cum only a short while before, I just kept shooting and shooting and shooting.

I suddenly felt Derrick's muscle tighten around my finger and wasn't surprised when his first shot hit the back of my throat. He, too, didn't seem to know when to stop shooting and I was working hard not to lose any of his sweet cum. He finally stopped and collapsed on top of me. We shared wild kisses and after recovering from our tremendous orgasms, again cleaned up in the shower. While I got my hair under control, Derrick raced out to the car and came back with two pairs of swim trunks.

When we approached the pool, we saw Keith at the opposite end talking to a beautiful, and I mean drop dead beautiful, young black girl. Young? She was probably out of high school, so a bit older than we were.

When we reached them, I realized she was the girl at the registration desk I had seen earlier, but now she was not in uniform and was filling out a swim suit very nicely. When we reached them Keith stood up and said, "Guys, I'd like to introduce Miss Janice Jennings. Janice, Derrick Murphy and the honkie is Tom McCarter. Guys, Janice is Josh's sister. He had warned her we were on the way. They are hospitality management majors and are doing internships this summer. Janice is having a good experience, but Josh is suffering from that asshole-oops, sorry, Janice-that jerk who was host where we had dinner. They live in Hattiesburg."

"You know when I came in this evening, I knew you reminded me of someone, but I couldn't remember who. It was Josh, of course."

Derrick and I left Janice and Keith talking and swam for about an hour before we all went in and got ready for bed. As soon as we started undressing, Keith said, "Look, I usually sleep in my birthday suit and know Tom does as well. You?" he asked, looking at Derrick.

"Of course," Derrick responded.

"Then, I'm not going to wear briefs tonight!" Having made his statement, Keith crawled under the covers. I slid in next to him, again between my best friend and my lover, and in a few minutes the world could have come to an end and I wouldn't have known it I was so sound asleep.