Mountain Magic by Sequoyah
I guess anyone who has ever been in love can remember when you couldn't get
enough of your lover. I felt like I had missed out for sixteen years and
had to make up for lost time. Jason said he felt the same, but he was much
more reserved than I was. Saturday, when I had a swim meet and he had to
work, he seemed all business when we were dressed and ready to head
downstairs for breakfast. I felt he was holding me at arm's length and said
so. I was surprised when he agreed.
"You got to remember, I have never been loved by someone I could depend
on. As a matter of fact, I was your age before I thought anyone cared shit
about me," he said. "My Grandma was the first person I can remember who
loved me just the way I am."
"And she left you."
"Yeah, not logical and rational but, yeah, I feel like she just walked off
and left me. Maybe in the future I can risk letting myself go completely
but right now, if I think about it, I'm afraid. I'm afraid you'll leave me
too." I started to protest and he said, "Doug, that feeling has nothing to
do with you and nothing you can say will take it away. It will go away when
I realize I can turn loose and abandon myself to you. I wish things were
different and that wasn't true, but I would not be honest if I denied that
fear was there. Give me time, ok?"
I still had my arms around Jason and, to answer him, I kissed him
passionately as I pressed my groin into his and welcomed his tongue into my
mouth. I knew we both were hard and hot and I wanted to stay as we were
forever, and said so. But Jason finally broke our kiss, looked into my eyes
and gave me one of his wonderful smiles and whispered, "Not such a good
idea, lover. Besides, I need food."
November crept along and school became a complete drag. The weather
continued cold, wet and gray. The only bright spot was Thanksgiving
holidays which would begin after school Tuesday and last until the
following Monday. Monday after school, Hank told Jonathan his parents were
ready for him when he was released from the hospital. "We'll have to do
some rearranging but, actually, you could come now so far as we are
concerned," Hank added.
We were excited about Jonathan coming to live in Deep Cove but he seemed
very reserved, even frightened. On the way to Clarksville for work and swim
team practice, Hank and I talked about Jonathan's attitude until Jason
finally said, "Look, how would you feel about being booted out of your
house and going to live with perfect strangers? I know how the first part
feels since I was kicked out, but I knew my Grandma. So far as Jonathan
knows, our families may be as bad as his. He only has our word for it."
Leave it to Jason to get our thinking straight.
After swim practice, Hank and I went to the "cat house" to work. Jason
promised this would be our last day and, since we had gotten it ready on
time, Jake had said we could take off the rest of Thanksgiving week.
As we worked, finishing up the job, Hank said, "You guys mind if I ask some
questions? Maybe some foolish ones, but there are things I'm not sure
about--may be confused about, but things I'd like to know--I guess. You
"No problem," Jason said and I agreed. "But you know we may not answer them
"Sure, of course," Hank grinned and said, "I'll try not to get TOO
personal, but I won't promise. Wouldn't want to answer some questions
about--you know--me and Beth."
Some of Hank's questions had to do with how we knew we were gay, and Jason
just turned that around and asked him how he knew he wasn't. That threw
Hank for a loop, I think. Jason finally reminded him that it was not
something we had decided any more than his being straight was something he
had decided. A lot of the questions he asked were questions we had, and
needed answers for, and we said so.
On the way home, Hank and I got to complaining about the amount of time we
spent training for the swim team. We had swim practice Monday, Wednesday
and Friday of every week but had very few meets, one every other week most
of the time, although there were times when we only had one in three weeks.
When I got home I talked about it with Grandmom and Granddad. "Since I have
started working with Jason, I've been giving serious thought about the time
I spend in swim team practice. Seems a lot of effort for too few
meets.""Douglas, you know that will have to be your decision," Granddad
"I know," I responded, "but I'd like to know what you think about it. Help
me sort through things."
"What about your teammates? How do they feel about it?" Grandmom asked.
"I guess most of them don't think about it. I doubt I'd be thinking about
it if I hadn't started working."
"What would they think about you quitting? Don't you think they might feel
you were letting them down? Won't you be letting them down?" Granddad
Jason hadn't said anything in the Jeep and I wondered what he thought about
the swim team. So I asked.
"Douglas, I will be going out for baseball. Are you planning to try out?"
"Sure, I want to, but there's a baseball game every week."
"What do you suppose the baseball team would think about someone who joined
a team and then dropped out? What if your baseball teammates look at your
swim team and decide you can't be depended on? You need to think about
"Seems to me you need to ask yourself if you only swim to practice for
meets or if you swim because you love it. If you really like to swim, then
it wouldn't matter whether you had a meet or not," Granddad said.
"And if you are going out for baseball, you'll need to get into
shape--which I have to do as well," Jason said, "and swimming will do that
"Helps to have things pointed out when you are sorting out stuff," I
said. "Thanks. And I'll be on the swim team, meets or not."
Later, when Hank and I talked about the swim team he definitely changed his
attitude when I brought up the matter of teammates, saying he couldn't let
Of course, if I were honest with myself, what really made me think of
quitting the swim team was Jason and the thought that I could have three
more hours a week with him. When I mentioned that, he surprised me by
asking if I really needed to spend more time with him. "Sure I do. I want
to spend twenty-four/seven with you," I protested.
"You sure? Think about it," he said. "We're together almost
twenty-four/seven already. I know right now we think we will never get
tired of each other, but we also need lives of our own." I was kinda hurt
when he said that but, when we really talked through it, I realized he was
right. If we were not careful we'd end up shutting out everything except
each other, becoming a whole world of our own. "And it would be a pretty
small world," he reminded me.
Hank had said little while Jason and I talked. Finally he said, "Look, Beth
and I don't get to spend as much time together as you two and there are
times when I wish I had more time to myself. She agrees, and we have
started trying to make the time we have together more than just making
out. We are becoming great friends and, as friends, we enjoy spending time
together. Still make out--oh yes we do--but not all the time.
"Well at least I do have something besides work and school. I still have a
few more weeks of swimming and I really do like to swim. I'll still swim
after the season is over, for sure. Then, Jason, maybe you can swim with me
when the team is no longer practicing. Now all you do is work and go to
"I know. Sometimes I think that's all I'll ever do. Don't get me wrong, I
really appreciate what the grandparents are doing for me, but I need to
work all the hours I can and school is not easy. I missed school so much
the last couple years that I'm having to do some catch-up and the courses
I'm taking are not easy ones. I know I need excellent grades if I am to
have a chance at something beyond high school, but I'm definitely looking
forward to something different--to starting conditioning for baseball."
Jason paused a moment and said, thoughtfully, "Yeah, I'm looking forward to
doing something beyond school and work and I need to start doing some
disciplined exercise now. Facing baseball conditioning, I know I am in for
some really sore muscles. I am not in shape."
"I like the shape you're in," I said, reaching over and running my hand
down his strong back. "But look, the Y has an exercise room with better
equipment than the school has. There's seldom anyone in it when I go for
swim practice. Why don't you join up and use it while Hank and I swim. It's
"Jason, that's a super idea," Hank said. "Douglas may like the shape you're
in, but I bet a couple days conditioning for baseball and you will be one
"Hadn't thought about that," Jason responded. "Well, I didn't know what the
Y had to offer. Yeah, sounds like a great idea."
We were so busy talking that we were nearly home before Hank said, "Whoa!
We were supposed to go by the hospital after work. Remember?"
"Damn! Doug, you and I were talking about being careful and watching what
we were doing too. A Jeep-load of one-track minds, I guess," Jason said as
I did a U-turn and headed back to the hospital.
When we reached Jonathan's room, he was sitting in a chair, watching
TV. "Hey guys," he said. "Working late today?"
"Yeah, that would sound better than admitting we were so busy talking we
drove past the hospital, which is what really happened."
"Gee, must have been interesting."
"Not really, just running our mouths," I said, "but what's your news?"
"Depends," he answered. "I was told today that I can be discharged as soon
as I have a place to go. I'll have to come back for a checkup and maybe to
have stitches out, but I'm ready to go."
"Right now?" Hank asked.
"Well I wish, but I'm not quite that ready," he smiled. "The doctor said
he'd be in to check me over thoroughly tomorrow--late morning he
hopes. After he does that, I'll have my dressing changed or not replaced
depending on how things are going."
"You still have a dressing on your back?" Hank asked.
"Not exactly. It's my balls," Jonathan said, turning bright red.
"Oh," Hank said.
"One of my testicles was hurt when I was being beaten. I thought it was
going to be removed, but it didn't have to be. I don't know exactly what
had to be done, but everything is there and functioning--or so I have been
"Makes me hurt to think about it," Hank said.
"Not half as bad as having it happen, I can assure you of that!" Jonathan
"Oh, Mom wanted to know your sizes," Hank said. "We'll bring clothes when
we come to get you."
Jonathan was smaller than any of us. I'm sure he had lost weight in the
hospital, but he had a slight build anyway. That's not to say he didn't
have a nice build, just that it was slight. We'd learn later he was a
swimmer and could swim like a fish. Of course, he could only swim in the
summer in a pond because the religious group his family belonged to would
never allow boys and girls to swim together. "Just small everything, I
guess," he answered.
"That'll work for shirts and underwear, but not for pants," Jason said.
"Where's the jeans you had on when you came in?"
"In the closet, I guess," Jonathan replied.
Jason opened the closet, found the jeans and said, "28, 31. That's not
going to be easy to find, I bet. Boxers or briefs?"
Jonathan blushed and said, "I had to wear boxers. Well, they are even
longer than boxers I think. They were to help keep me from being sexually
aroused." Jonathan giggled and said, "They didn't work. Anyway, could I
"Sure thing," Hank said. "We'll get you covered enough to get you home,"
Hank said, "and I can see a trip to the thrifts soon."
Jonathan stood when we said we had to go, and gave each of us a hug--a
habit which would soon become a regular part of the "one for all and all
for one" gang.
As we drove back to Deep Cove, we talked about Jonathan coming to live with
Hank. We knew that the Dennisons had said Jonathan could come live with
them, but nothing had really been done to get ready for him. "I think you
two need to have supper with me tonight and afterward we need to get things
ready for Jonathan."
"Makes sense," I said. "We'll need to stop by the house and let the
grandparents know what's going on."
When we got to my place, Hank's parents and the grandparents were way ahead
of us. Grandmom said, "Guys, we're all having supper at the Dennisons'
tonight so we can get ready for Jonathan. Have you seen him today?"
We told Grandmom about forgetting him and having to go back. "But how did
you know he's being released tomorrow?" Jason asked.
"Mr. Gillis, the hospital administrator, has kept us advised of how
Jonathan is doing and told us he'd be leaving tomorrow if everything
continues going well. He, of course, also called your parents, Hank, to let
them know what was going on. Your mom suggested we get together since
Jonathan is really you boys' project. I know you will do a good job of
getting ready for him, but us old folks may be able to help. So get ready
and we'll be off."Grandmom had prepared a couple of dishes to take with us
for a kind of two-family pot-luck supper.
After we had supper, we went up to Hank's room. It really was the whole
attic, undivided except the two front dormers, one of which was a bathroom
and the other a huge walk-in closet. The back ceiling sloped like the front
and had a single dormer and two skylights which could be opened. The rest
of the attic was one very large room. Hank had straightened up his room,
which usually had piles of clothes here and there and other things just
tossed about. Jason had been on his case several times without any real
results. "Glad to see you did a little cleaning up here, Hank," Jason
"Yeah, thought I needed to set a good example for young Jonathan," Hank
Hank's older brother was in college, so Hank had the attic to himself. He
had talked to his brother about Jonathan coming to live with the family
and, before he could say much, his brother told him he would only be home
for holidays as he had his summers planned. "I'll spend any time I am at
home in the guest room," he had said. "Actually, I've pretty much left home
unless something changes."
We all looked at the room and furniture and started planning a layout. The
center of the room was already set up as a living area, with a couple of
comfortable chairs, a couch, lamps and coffee table. There was even a rug
defining the "living room". Hank said there was another comfortable chair
in an attic cubbyhole and Jason got it out. "That's a couch and three
chairs," Hank said. "That should be enough."
One end of the large open space was Hank's "bedroom" and the other would be
Jonathan's. I noted a pipe running from wall to wall, some fifteen or so
feet from the outside walls. Just as I was about to ask about it, Hank's
mom said, "I'll go downstairs and bring the curtains up."
"Where will curtains go?" I asked, as the only windows were at the gable
ends and they had curtains.
"They go on the pipes," Hank's dad said. "We had to put them up to keep
Hank and Josh from fussing." Hank's mom and Grandmom came upstairs with the
curtains, and the two men helped the three of us get them on the
pipes. "The boys usually had the curtains pulled together except when it
was really hot and they needed more air circulating, then they pulled them
back." Each boy's "room" was separated from the living area by the
curtains, giving them privacy.
Each bedroom had a bed, chest, nightstand, lamp--all the bedroom sort of
stuff. Mrs. Dennison stripped the bed in Jonathan's end of the attic and
Grandmom asked if she should strip Hank's. Hank quickly said, "I'll do
that," and rushed to his bed. As he stripped it I saw why he wanted to do
the job himself. There was a very large spot in the center of his bottom
sheet. I just looked at him and whispered, "Dreaming of Beth?" and
grinned. He grinned back.
Hank took the soiled bedclothes downstairs. Mrs. Dennison had brought up
clean ones and she and Grandmom made up the beds while Hank and I helped
finish arranging the furniture in both bedrooms. When all was in place, the
old folks went downstairs and the three of us looked over the arrangement
and liked it. "Given Jonathan's age--yours too--and the hormone level which
will be up here, I think the curtains are a good idea," I said."They give
plenty of privacy unless you do a lot of groaning like Josh does when he
spanks his monkey," Hank laughed.
"The place looks great," Jason said, "All done--whoa--where is the computer
going?" It was sitting on the floor in a corner, forgotten. It had been in
Hank's room but had been disconnected so it could be put where it could be
used by both Hank and Jonathan.
The three of us got the computer, printer, all that stuff, set up in the
third dormer and got the cable modem connected and working.
Jason and I had talked about getting a cable modem. There was cable in the
house, so getting it installed wouldn't be a major problem and we could
split the cost. We just never seemed to get around to it, but every time we
used Hank's computer for surfing the web the question came up again.
With everything in place, we got to work doing a super cleaning job. We
went way beyond what Hank had done and probably beyond what had been done
in the past four or five years, ever since Mrs. Dennison had stopped
cleaning the boys' room. In the middle of our work Hank said, "I guess this
is putting our work experience to good use," and laughed.
"I just thought of something," Jason said as he stopped straightening up
books. "You know Mr. Duncan announced today we would be on short schedule
tomorrow. That means periods will be shortened, lunch will be a bit later
than usual and school dismissed after lunch, but he also said students will
not be allowed to leave before lunch. 'Can't leave before lunch' means we
have a vacant period--even if it is short--to do nothing before we can go
"Maybe we can get permission to leave before lunch. Mr. Duncan saying, 'I
have been assured we'll have a real Thanksgiving dinner,' didn't grab me,"
I said. "A real dinner in a school cafeteria? You gotta be kidding."
"Oh no? You guys don't know it, but the school Thanksgiving dinner lunch is
worth waiting for. Personally, I think it is as good as Mama's, but I'd
never let her know that. So, how's this?" Hank asked. "Why don't we see if
Ms. Kennedy will give us permission to go pick up Jonathan during our
off-period and bring him back to school for Thanksgiving dinner lunch?"
"You're thinking, Bro," Jason said. "'Course we need to be prepared to have
Jonathan tell us he's not interested. We don't really know his feeling
about school. Damn! I just thought of something. Suppose that preacher,
that Brother Leader jerk, has blabbed about Jonathan and it's all over
"Think we can forget about that," I answered. "I'm sure if that had
happened we would have heard about it. I can't imagine the high school
grapevine missing a juicy story like that."
"True," Hank said, "and you, we, need to remember that--I mean about you
two .... you know. But, anyway, about tomorrow ... I think it would be best
if one of you goes to see Ms. Kennedy. I know her, but she knows you two
"Maybe we will both go. We'll see," I said. "In the meantime, this place is
looking great, a really nice place for two guys."
When we got downstairs, Grandmom and Mrs. Dennison had discussed getting
clothes for Jonathan and decided they'd just take him PJs and a robe. "Not
such a good idea," Hank said, "because we are going to see if he wants to
come to school for lunch. He'll need real clothes."
"You think he'll be dying for school lunch?" Mr. Dennison asked. "Seems I
have heard horror tales about school lunch."
"Not tomorrow. It'll be Thanksgiving dinner lunch," Rosemary, Hank's
"I'm sure you'll be busy at the store tomorrow, Ellen," Grandmom
said. "Gerald and I can run into Clarksville and get clothes for the boy."
"Why don't you just come by the store and I'll go shopping with you,"
Mrs. Dennison said. "I can be gone from the store that long. I'm sure
Gerald is like Hayden and would just as soon never go shopping."
Jason and I went straight to Ms. Kennedy's office as soon as we got to
school Tuesday, and told her the situation with Jonathan. She thought our
picking Jonathan up and bringing him to school for lunch was a great
idea--provided he wanted to come. She wrote a pass for the three of us to
leave and return to campus.
So far as school was concerned, Tuesday was a complete bust. None of my
teachers tried to accomplish anything. Given the short periods and the
holiday spirit among students and teachers, the lack of any academic
activity wasn't surprising.
As soon as the bell rang for the end of the sixth period, "the three
musketeers" dashed out of the building, mounted our trusty steed and headed
for the hospital. When we arrived, Jonathan was dressed and ready to
go. "Looking sharp, kewl dude," Hank said, his mountain accent
notwithstanding. Jonathan was dressed in cargo pants and rugby shirt and a
down jacket lay on his bed. "Ready to roll?"
"Ready to roll," Jonathan replied and his face lit up with a huge smile,
the first time I had seen such a smile on his face.
"We thought you might like to go to school before we take you home," Hank
said. "It's Thanksgiving dinner lunch day and that will be all that's left
of school by the time we get there."
"The food sounds good--I remember my older brother talking about
Coldsprings High's Thanksgiving dinner lunch. But what do I tell people who
want to know where I have been and what I have been doing? I really don't
want to say, 'I've been in the hospital recovering from a beating my dad
gave me when he found out I was a fag.'"
"In the first place, where you have been and why is none of their
business. But some students will want to know where you have been and why
they haven't seen you. Some will ask out of concern, others out of
curiosity. What you answer is up to you. You probably should just say
something like, 'I had to spend some time in the hospital recovering from
exposure.' That's true and says all that needs to be said," Jason said.
"And if they ask why you are staying with Hank--as they will when they find
that out--you can just say it is a family matter and no more. By the time
we get back from Thanksgiving something else will probably be the topic of
conversation," I added.
That was rational and logical and, of course, did not soothe away all of
Jonathan's fears. "Guys, I'm really sorta worried about going to school and
everything. I don't know anyone, really, or how I should act and all." It
was clear Jonathan was becoming more and more nervous as we stood around
and talked, trying to reassure him.
"Heck, just act natural," Hank said. "Besides, you'll be with us and you
Jonathan got a big smile on his face again. "Like big brothers?" he asked,
his face clearly expecting a yes answer.
"Big brothers and friends. Sure," Jason said. "Come on, the turkey waits."
We started walking down the hall, four abreast, our arms around each
other's waist. When we reached the nurses' station, the charge nurse said,
"Take care, Jonathan, and do come around to let us know how you're doing."
"I will, I promise. And thanks for taking care of me, especially when I was
being a jerk."
"You were never a jerk, just a hurting kid," she said, and gave Jonathan a
When we got to school, we went to Ms. Kennedy's office to let her know
Jonathan was back. She gave him a hug and said, "Jonathan, welcome back to
Coldsprings. Your friends here have kept me posted on your progress. I
understand you will be living with Hank. I hope you will come to let me
know how things are going, and after the holiday we will get a program set
up to help you get caught up in school. But now, come on, let's all go
enjoy lunch!" Ms. Kennedy said as she took Jonathan's arm.
When we reached the cafeteria, Beth, Janie and Sandra were waiting for
us. The six of us had our own table which other students respected. The
girls joined us in line as did Ms. Kennedy. When we had our food,
Ms. Kennedy came to our table rather than going to one of the faculty
tables. We snagged two chairs and added them to the six around the
table. The girls made a big fuss over Jonathan and he ate it up.
After lunch, Mr. Duncan wished everyone a happy holiday and dismissed
school. There was, of course, a mighty rush to the parking lot and the
buses. Hank was hanging onto Beth and was in no rush to go home. Before we
could get away, Sandra and Janie had made dates with us for dinner and a
movie in Asheville Saturday night. "We're paying this time," Janie
said. "Don't want people getting the wrong idea. Jonathan, we expect you to
go as well."
"I don't want to be the extra tag-along little brother," Jonathan replied.
"No problem," Sandra replied. "We're just friends out to have a good
time. You are now part of the gang. Someone you'd like to ask, go
ahead. We'll have piles of room. I'm driving Dad's van."
Sandra's dad ran a tour service in the summer. He did a lot of mountain
tours in a very fancy van which carried a dozen people comfortably. In the
winter he did things like taking people from assisted living homes to the
shops, to movies, to other activities.
"In that case, I'd love to go. I've never been to a movie," Jonathan
Needless to say, that provoked a lengthy discussion. The religious group to
which Jonathan's family belonged did not allow adherents to go to movies or
watch television. Even at that, we were all surprised that Jonathan had
never seen a movie--well he had seen instructional movies at school, but
that was it--and had only seen TV in the hospital.
When we got to Hank's, all four of us went upstairs. The curtains had been
pulled back from the center so each "room" looked like a stage set. Hank
said, "Jonathan, take your pick."
"Hank, I'm coming into your house. You tell me where to go and I will."
"Sure you will, but that's not the way it works. You pick your room."
I couldn't see any difference in the two "rooms" so wondered why Hank was
making an issue of Jonathan making a choice. Later when I mentioned it to
Jason he said, "You've never been a real outsider going into someone's
home. If you had been, you'd know you are afraid you'll do something that
will upset someone, but when Hank insisted Jonathan make a choice--even
though you are right, there is no difference--it was a way of saying, 'you
belong here as much as I do.'"
"I understand now, but I didn't offer you the choice of rooms when you came
to live with us."
"No, but we made decisions together about the space. It was very clear to
me that we were arranging our space--mine and yours--and not just
Anyway, Jonathan finally chose a room and we put in his chest the few
clothes Grandmom and Mrs. Dennison had bought for him.
"You two are off work tomorrow, right?" Hank asked.
"Sure are, and welcome time off after cleaning up the 'cat house'," Jason
"Then why don't we take young Jonathan to the thrifts in the morning?"
"Sounds good, but not too early. We can sleep in tomorrow," I responded,
"and I intend to make the most of it."
"Yeah, I'm sure Douglas will need to sleep in, because I feel a nightmare
coming on," Jason laughed and winked at me.
"What's this about nightmares?" Jonathan asked. "I have nightmares all the
time and get really scared. I sometimes scream and scream and no-one can
wake me up."
"Glad to have the warning," Hank said. "But what does your having a
nightmare have to do with Douglas sleeping in?"
Jason was behind me and had his arms around me, pulling my body to his, his
chin leaning on my shoulder. "When Doug was a kid and had a nightmare, one
of his parents slipped into bed with him and sang him a lullaby. I had a
real bad nightmare some weeks ago and Doug came and crawled in bed with me,
held me and sang me a lullaby. So I feel a nightmare coming on," Jason
laughed and nibbled one of my ears.
Jonathan turned red when he saw Jason nibbling my ear and Hank said, "Think
we need some rules around here," and laughed. Jason turned me loose and
flopped in a chair, his legs over the arm on one side, his back against the
As the rest of us got settled, I asked, "Hank, what's going on with Janie
and Sandra? I didn't miss their comment about paying for Saturday's date so
people wouldn't get the wrong idea, but didn't think it was the time or
place to ask for an explanation. Not that I am displeased, if the comment
means what I think it means."
"Well, I'm pretty sure it means what you think it means, but that's about
all I know," Hank said. "Beth told me last week Sandra had mentioned your
statement, Jason, about having a commitment. She was glad because that
allowed her to just be friends and you not to expect more. Janie just said,
'That makes two of us. I really want to keep Douglas as a friend, but
nothing more.' I told Beth you two thought the girls wanted more than just
friendship and she said she did too, but guessed signs had been
misread. Anyway, you two are off the hook, at least for the time being."
"I'm glad, but I am puzzled by what seems a sudden change. Just don't want
the two to get hurt. Maybe we'll find out more later," Jason said. "Anyway,
we'll leave you to get settled, Jonathan."
"Yeah, and we'll be by about 10:30 in the morning to pick you two up for
Asheville and the thrifts," I said.
"I keep hearing about thrifts and I don't know what you're talking about,"
"Fill Jonathan in, Hank," Jason said. "We're off."
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