Mountain Magic by Sequoyah
The next morning, before either Jason or I was awake, Wesley knocked on our
door. I groaned as Jason answered, "Yes?"
"Hate to be this way, but if we are going to Asheville today, I think we
need to be moving," Wesley said. "Granddad may have some things for us to
do and we have to get back early enough to do the cleaning for Jake. I've
finished in the bathroom. It's all yours," he added.
That was the first real indication we had that Wesley was an early riser
and definitely a morning person. So much so that at times even Jason, who
is also a morning person, was ready to strangle him.
"I hate the superior attitude early risers have," I groaned. "I may kill
Cousin Wesley before he makes it to eighteen."
"I may kill him for his superior attitude, period," Jason said. "And I'm
awake enough to do it! The very idea of HIM telling US what WE need to do
as though WE were the newcomers around here!"
Jason and I went to the bathroom and did the minimum: drained our lizards
and brushed our teeth, put on work clothes and went to do morning
chores. Since we didn't have to go to school for a while, we had taken on
milking as well as our usual morning duties. We finally convinced Granddad
he didn't have to come to the barn at all in the morning until school
When we had finished with chores and breakfast, we showered, taking our own
sweet time about it--and it was definitely sweet time. We got into some
very heavy and hot kissing in the shower, managed to get ourselves
completely wrapped up in each other--not just figuratively--and each
covered the other when our attention to the other got the desired
results. Since we were still in the shower, cleaning up was quick and easy.
When we got back to our room, I got dressed as Jason braided his hair. Soon
he, too, was dressed and we were ready to go to Asheville. Hank's dad had
said Hank could go with us to complete his Christmas shopping, so we
dropped by the music store and picked him up.
Turns out I was really glad he went because he helped me find a wonderful
present for Jason. Later, Wesley asked about my going with him and I did as
Jason and Hank went off to finish their shopping. We got our Christmas
shopping done--and Wesley did have a neat idea for the grandparents' gift
and had taken care of that.
There was no problem getting back in plenty of time to do the cleaning Jake
had for us and to do our evening chores. All in all, it had been a good
Friday and Saturday were clear and unusually warm for December--I mean it
was not like summer, but not cold either.
Granddad had everything ready to go early Friday morning and all four of
the males in the household finally spent the day cutting wood. Granddad
felled the trees and then kept a close watch on Jason as he used the
chainsaw to cut the trees into blocks. When he needed a rest, Granddad took
over. Wesley and I were kept busy taking the blocks to a splitter, which
split them into wood ready for the fireplace, and loading it into the
truck. As soon as we had a load, we'd all go to the house, unload and stack
the wood, then take a break.
We also cut wood Saturday and when we had stacked the last load, Granddad
said, "Men, I must admit I am surprised at the size of that stack of new
wood. We probably have cut enough, unless we have a streak of really good
weather and just want to cut more."
Christmas Eve--the Last Sunday in Advent for us--dawned bright, sunny and
downright warm. When we came out of church there were people driving around
with their convertible tops down. The forecast was for real winter weather
later, but it certainly didn't look likely.
The high school group was going to hang the greens and decorate the church,
so as soon as we had lunch, we headed back to Grace. We had asked Hank and
Jonathan to go with us--Hank was going anyway because Beth had told him to,
and Jonathan was invited to go along. Hank said he was picking up Beth, "So
I'll take Jonathan with me, but I'd really like it if you could take him
back home," he said.
When we arrived at the church, no-one had started doing anything. The
weather was still unseasonably warm and everyone was standing outside the
entrance to the parish house in the sun. The three of us walked over to the
group where, after a round of Merry Christmases, I introduced Wesley to
After everyone shook Wesley's hand, Ken Nash--a classmate of Hank's and
mine--introduced Cody Andrews, a kid about Jonathan's size and build, but
the day to Jonathan's night: very blond with hair almost an Afro it was so
curly and long. "Cody's my cousin from Raleigh who will be living with us
from now on," Ken said. "He's a freshman."
"Cody, you'll have to get to know Jonathan Henderson. He's also a
freshman. He's Hank Dennison's new brother. They will be here shortly,"
"Very shortly," Hank said, walking up behind Jason.
"Time to get to work," Beth said, and everyone moved inside.
Jonathan and Cody immediately hit it off and they and Wesley spent nearly
as much time talking and giggling as they did decorating. As a matter of
fact, I was a little concerned that Wesley was flirting with Jonathan and I
was sure Jonathan didn't know it. But they were not the only ones goofing
off. I wondered if the church would get decorated because there was as much
horseplay as serious decorating, but finally everyone calmed down and
started singing Christmas carols as they hung the greens. Mid-afternoon the
church looked very much like Christmas. Everyone sat down and the church
became very quiet for a few minutes then someone said, "See y'all later,"
and the exodus began.
When we got outside, Beth wanted to treat us all to hot fudge sundaes and
we were happy to oblige. Sundaes in hand, we all got seated and Beth said,
"Well, Cousin Wesley, I haven't had a chance to talk with you since I
plucked you out of the 'bleak midwinter'," and asked what we should have
expected. "So why are you joining the McElrath family? I know you are
Douglas's cousin and all that but, if you'll pardon my French, your family
has treated him like shit and you yourself have been a first-class asshole,
so why are you here?"
I was shocked at Beth's language. She's no goody-two-shoes, but just isn't
into foul language. But then, as Hank says, she doesn't suffer fools
gladly. Yet I had never seen or heard her be quite so frank and acid. Of
course, she had heard plenty about how the mom's family had treated us.
If I thought Beth had been direct, I was totally unprepared for, and very
shocked by, Wesley's response. "I'm gay and had to run away from home," he
said as if he were announcing, "I am male and like baseball."
Beth and Wesley were the only ones who were calm at Wesley's
announcement. Fortunately, no-one sprayed ice cream across the table, but
there was a lot of choking going on. As soon as everyone was almost under
control, Beth said, "So your parents are not only snobs, but ignorant
bigots as well. It figures. Too bad. You have a lover? I guess not, since
you are here. Well everyone here's taken except Jonathan, and he's way too
young for you." I was ready to panic, as was Jason. Beth knew more than she
should have. It seemed obvious Hank had told her Jason and I were gay and
lovers, but he shouldn't have and, even if he had, she should have kept her
"I mean I don't think you are man enough to fight off the entire female
population of Coldsprings High--excluding moi of course. They are about
equally divided in claiming Jason and Douglas," Beth reached over and
pinched both Jason and me on the cheek and said, "These two just set those
little old girls' hearts afluttering."
I wasn't sure whether Beth suddenly realized what she had said and was
trying to cover up or if she had simply meant what she said. Anyway, it was
something we had to take up with Hank.
We took Jonathan home and when we got back to our place, we were hardly in
the house before Jason was on the phone calling Hank. Jason said, "Thanks,
Mrs. Dennison. I'd appreciate that," and hung up the phone. "He's not home
yet and we should have known. He took Beth home and, I am sure, found some
place to park for a little making out before he dropped her off."
Only minutes later the phone rang. It was Hank, calling from Beth's
place. Later, when the Jason and I were alone, I asked Jason what Hank had
to say for himself. "You're not going to believe this, but Hank said he
asked Beth what was going on as soon as they were in the car. 'I've told
her nothing about you two, I swear,' he said. 'When I asked her what she
meant she asked if you two were my closest friends and I didn't know you
were gay. "It's so obvious," she told me. "Just watch how they look at each
other. They are in love all right, and I assume that means they are gay and
know it. They are so sweet together." I just left it at that, but I did
want you to know that I hadn't betrayed your trust. And I am not sure I'd
call you sweet, together or separate!' Hank concluded."
Jason assured Hank we believed him, but said it had seemed otherwise when
Beth said what she had.
"I have heard some men have 'gaydar' and can spot a gay man a mile away,
but I never thought much about it and especially about girls having
it. Maybe we should just go ahead and tell everyone we are gay and get it
over with," I said.
"Doug, I don't think I will be ready to tell EVERYONE for a long, long
"I didn't really mean that, I meant the people who count. You know, the
Dennisons and our grandparents."
"Doug, I don't think that is a very good idea either. You heard
Granddad. He's struggling with Wesley being gay. That's something he can
work through or not. There's no pressure on him. If, God forbid, he decides
he can't have a gay man around, he can send Wesley packing and he knows
it. It's kind of a free field he's playing on. That would not be true with
us--or at least you. He obviously feels some responsibility for you, which
he does not have or feel for Wesley or, I guess, me for that matter. Why
don't we just give him time and space to come to grips with the question
then tell him when he has made a decision."
"But what if he decides he doesn't want to have anything to do with gay
"Do you think that is possible, Doug? I don't. He's a good-hearted, caring,
loving man. He'll come out on the side of caring. I'm sure it may take a
while, but I'll bet my life on it."
"Maybe not your life, but you're betting a lot."
"Aren't you sure what he'll decide?"
"I guess I am. Sure I am."
"Ok, so when we are ready--or, better yet, when we think Granddad is
ready--we'll tell our grandparents. But what about Wesley?"
"I think we tell him."
Grandmom had suggested we invite Hank, Jonathan and Beth to come for a "bit
of a celebration" after the midnight Christmas Eucharist. When I called the
Dennisons and told Mrs. Dennison, she said they were planning to go to a
7:00pm candlelight service at their church, Coldsprings Baptist, but Hank
had already told them he would be going with Beth and had asked Jonathan to
go with them. "I don't care where they go, so long as they remember what
Christmas is all about," she said.
When I talked to Hank, I told him we had a tradition of opening gifts after
the Eucharist and if he, Jonathan and Beth would like to bring their gifts
for each other, they could join in.
The evening had continued unseasonably warm, but by the time we left for
church at 11:30 there was definitely a downturn in the temperature and the
clear sky from the afternoon was showing patches of cloud. When we arrived
at the church I could hear the congregation singing carols, but we did not
go in. Granddad said he liked to wait until just before the Eucharist
started, when the church is dimly lit.
Shortly afterward Hank, Jonathan and Beth arrived. Jonathan was standing
with Hank when he was attacked from behind by Cody. The two were talking
and giggling when Beth said, "I see the lights have been dimmed, so we need
to go inside."
Cody asked Ken if he could sit with Jonathan and Ken said, "I don't think
so, Cody, you won't know what to do."
"Hank and I will help him," Beth said. "We'll be helping Jonathan as well."
"If you don't mind," Ken said.
"Not at all," Hank responded.
"Then I can sit with my ladylove," Ken smiled and walked down the aisle and
took a seat beside Marie Schultz.
Inside the darkened church, the organist started a prelude on "Veni, veni
Emmanuel". It was very haunting, in a minor key, not Christmassy at all. In
fact it had a very pleading tone. As people entered the church, they were
given candles and, during the prelude, an acolyte lit the candles of two
people at the back of the church and the flame was passed from candle to
candle and the church gradually grew brighter and brighter.
The prelude finished on a very soft note and I suspect most people jumped
when, moments later, a brass choir let loose with "O come all ye
faithful". As the congregation started singing, I heard a fine, strong male
voice behind me, just as acolyte came down the aisle swinging a thurible
with great vigor, raising clouds of incense. She was followed by a crucifer
carrying the gleaming processional cross, behind which was the procession
of candle bearers, flag bearers, the choir, and the Eucharistic ministers
with Fr. Hanson bringing up the rear. All took their places and the service
Beth and Hank had Jonathan and Cody between them so they could help them
follow the service. Hank had been going with Beth enough that he was a
self-proclaimed expert at what his father called "that Episcopal exercise
class with all its getting up and down."
The Wilsons were either Presbyterians or Episcopalians. Wesley's family, I
guess to cover all bases, was divided into the male Episcopalians and
female Presbyterians. Wesley said he hadn't been to church very often in
recent years, since he had heard a priest raving about the "gays and
queers" who were out to destroy Mother Church. "I decided this queer wasn't
going to be a part of a church that didn't want him." He was very surprised
that Fr. Henson--a priest out in the boonies--had a very different idea. "I
guess I thought a sophisticated urban priest would be more open to reality
than one in a more rural setting. Another time I was wrong," he said.
I don't know if it was the Christmas spirit or what, but Wesley had climbed
down from his elevated position and high opinion of himself and was
becoming a real human being. That change in attitude probably saved him
from a painful death, and Jason and me from a murder trial. And I certainly
couldn't complain about his not doing his share of the work around the
place. Hard work and good food were making their mark on Cousin Wesley and
he was becoming a pretty good-looking young man, even if more than a little
bit colorless compared to dark Indians in the household.
I had been allowed to stay up and go to the midnight Eucharist since I was
six or seven, and it has always meant Christmas to me. Of course I liked
getting gifts--I still do--but it's the midnight Eucharist which means
Christmas. And this was a very, very special Christmas and
Eucharist. Somehow or other it meant I had weathered the storm of losing my
family and having faced what a selfish person I had been. I had never
thought about it until recently, but in looking back I didn't like that
Douglas very much and I did like the Douglas I had become and was becoming,
and that even included knowing I was gay Douglas.
Most of all, this Christmas I gave thanks for having been given the
greatest gift anyone one can receive, the unconditional love of another
human being. At the Peace, I glanced sideways at Jason just as he reached
down and took my hand in his, leaned over and whispered in my ear, "Merry
Christmas, Christmas gift." I caught myself just before I would have taken
his face in my hands for a great kiss. Instead I smiled and whispered,
"Merry Christmas, my special gift," as I embraced him.
Generally I am uncomfortable with some of the displays of affection which
take place during the Peace, but tonight was different and all of my
extended family exchanged embraces and--except for Grandmom and Beth--bear
When I turned around, I saw a tall, young man with curly red hair. He was
taller than I am, with a good build. He was, I'm sure, the young man I had
heard singing. "Merry Christmas," I smiled. The young man smiled in return
and wished me a Merry Christmas.
When we went to the altar rail to receive the Sacrament, I had a real sense
of what "communion" meant as the eight of us extended our hands for the
Bread and Wine. I had never really felt so much a part of a community as I
did then, and knew I felt part of a community because I was and we were.
At the end of the service the lights were again dimmed as the congregation
sang "Silent Night" after the recessional. The carol ended and Fr. Hanson
announced in a loud and jolly voice, "Merry Christmas to all!" Before the
congregation could respond, a child's voice piped up, "And to all a good
night!" which, of course, brought the house down.
Parishioners were wishing each other a merry Christmas and happy New Year
as they slowly walked toward the back door of the church where Fr. Hanson
was speaking to each one. I looked around for the red-headed guy, but did
not see him. I wanted to introduce myself to him and welcome him to Grace
since I had never seen him before.
As I stepped out of the church, I realized everything seemed very bright,
and then saw why. While we were inside, it had started snowing and the
ground was covered with fresh snow. Snow was still falling and it was
definitely no longer unseasonably warm. As we walked toward the Jeep,
Granddad called to us, "Be careful driving home. The roads are already
covered and will definitely be slick, especially the overpasses."
Hank was driving Josh's Miata since Brad and Jeremy, Josh's roommate and
his boyfriend, came by mid-afternoon to ask Josh to go skiing with
them. They had the use of Jeremy's family's place at Sugar Mountain. Josh
had been delighted and went, much to his mother's displeasure. Hank said
later, Josh had seemed a changed person after Thanksgiving. "I think he
sees two people really in love and that gives him hope. He even said he
isn't always on the lookout for a piece of tail these days."
To keep Jonathan from being crammed in--so Hank said, but we knew he also
wanted to be alone with Beth--Jonathan rode with us back to our place.
When we got home, Jason went directly to the living room, where he turned
on the Christmas tree lights and then started a fire in the seldom-used
fireplace there. Wesley and I went to the kitchen and started getting food
and drinks ready. Grandmom had made eggnog in the afternoon and left it in
the refrigerator. I put cups on a tray with the pitcher of eggnog and a
bottle of rum. Grandmom and Granddad were the only people old enough to
legally have "nog" in their eggnog, but the rule was to let your conscience
and your parents be your guide.
When the grandparents came in, we had everything ready and, after toasting
each other, we enjoyed the eggnog and cookies. Only Jonathan decided he
really didn't want rum in his cup. I was somewhat surprised that Jason did,
but after Thanksgiving when he said he was afraid of alcohol, we had talked
at some length about the difference between an occasional drink and
"drowning your sorrows".
At Beth's suggestion, we all gathered around the piano and I played and
everyone sang Christmas carols. I was surprised when I noticed tears in
Wesley's eyes and was even more surprised when he walked over and hugged
Grandmom and Granddad, hanging on to them for dear life. When we finished
the song we were singing, Wesley said, "I want all of you to know that I
have had Christmases where the money spent on my presents would have kept
an entire family well for a month, maybe more, but I have never had a
Christmas present that would even touch the gift you have all given
me. Thank you all for loving someone who has never been very lovable."
The change in Wesley since he was "plucked from winter's icy clutches",
Thanksgiving, was amazing. Yes, the mountains and the grandparents were
weaving their magic around him.
Grandmom and Granddad hugged him close and then Granddad said, "Speaking of
Christmas gifts, I think it's time for Santa!" When we all had gathered
around the Christmas tree and settled, he said, "The rule here is all
presents are passed out then everyone opens one at a time, in turn. Ready?
Ho! Ho! Ho! The first one is for Jason."
Granddad had soon passed out all the gifts and it was time to open
them. All the McElrath family had several gifts, some very practical, but
others were very special. It was the special gifts which made for a joyous
It was obvious that Hank and Beth's relationship had been deepening all
fall and into the winter, and Hank symbolized that with a beautiful
friendship ring he had found in an antique store in Asheville. Beth, in
turn, had been very retro and found a 1950s silver ID bracelet which she'd
had polished and re-engraved. On the front was Hank's name and on the back
it said, "To my first real love." They opened their gifts, put them on,
showed them around, then gave each other a great kiss.
Wesley had asked about borrowing some money to buy a gift for the
grandparents, then came back with a suggestion which meant we had to pitch
in more than we might have spent, but we had a great gift for them. Inside
a nice gift box was a letter from the three of us telling them they had a
week in a condo in the Florida Keys. Wesley managed to arrange it with his
sister's help, through some of his friends in Charlotte. Mary Capers was
able to make the arrangements without revealing where Wesley was. In fact,
the owners thought it was Mary Capers who would be using the condo. We
found inexpensive airline tickets and everything else was taken care
of. They would be leaving the day after Christmas and coming back New
Jason, Hank and I had given Jonathan a game for the computer--he beat Hank
routinely now--and an earring. He had wanted one and Hank took him and got
his ear pierced a couple weeks before. He looked at the gold hoop a long
time and said, "I've never had a Christmas present before," and was
moist-eyed as Hank put in the earring.
All of us had chipped in to buy a gift for Jason, a beautiful and
wonderful-sounding Martin guitar. It was hard to move on after he opened it
since he wasn't about to put it down.
Hank's mom told us Hank had taken up banjo last summer, but hadn't played
very much except for himself. "He's got a banjo, but it's not a very good
one. If he keeps at it, we'll need to buy him a decent one." Her remarks
settled what the gang was getting for Hank.
When it came my time to open a gift I was so emotional that I had to stop
and catch my breath. "Folks, I'm having a little trouble keeping it all
together," I acknowledged. When I regained control, I opened a present from
the gang and found a charcoal drawing of my family done by an Asheville
artist. It was beautifully framed and I really lost it. Everyone gave me
time to get control again as I sat with Jason's arm around my shoulder.
When Jason opened my present, he got a funny look on his face and then
laughed. I had given him a silver ring engraved with Indian friendship
symbols which I had spotted in a small shop, the Silver Armadillo in
Asheville. I understood his expression when I opened my gift from him and
found an identical ring. "How did this happen?" he asked.
"Sometimes your friend has to help out," Hank laughed. "I guess that means
you two are also going steady," and winked. I thought I saw a strange
expression cross Grandmom's face, but when I looked closely I guess I was
just imagining things.
Anyway there were, as I said, other gifts. Shortly after the gifts were
opened, Grandmom and Granddad excused themselves and, just as they stood up
to leave, the phone rang. Grandmom answered it and when she hung up said,
"Hank, that was your mom. She is concerned about your driving
tonight. There are several inches of snow on the road now and it is still
snowing heavily. I assured her you were welcome to stay here and she wants
you to do that. Beth, I think you need to stay as well. I'm sure your
mother rather you do that than risk ending up in a ditch somewhere."
"I'll call, Mrs. McElrath, but Mom will want to speak to you. I have never
lied about where I am but some of my friends have, and Mom wants to make
sure I am where I say I am and that my host has actually asked me to
stay. Makes me feel like a little kid sometimes, but that's the way it is."
"Nothing wrong with that," Grandmom said. "I'll just go ahead and call your
mom. Jason, Douglas, you can get everyone bedded down upstairs except
"That's ok, Mrs. McElrath. She can sleep with me," Hank said.
Granddad laughed and said, "Son, I bet if she slept with you, you'd have a
very long nap. I suspect her father and brothers would make sure you slept
permanently!" Beth was the youngest of five children, the others being
brothers. She was sixteen years younger than the next oldest and, needless
to say, carefully protected by them.
"I am sure you are right, Mr. McElrath," Hank agreed.
"Beth, The guest room is the second on the right down the hall. I'll turn
down the bed and lay out one of my nightgowns. Not nearly as romantic as
most young girls would like, but warm."
"Thanks, Mrs. McElrath. And when it comes to sleeping, I look for comfort."
The grandparents went down the hall and very shortly Grandmom stuck her
head around the corner and said, "Your mom is pleased you are not going out
on the roads tonight, Beth, and your bed is ready. Goodnight to you all."
We all turned and told my grandparents goodnight.
When I turned back I realized we had all gotten on the floor when Granddad
was passing out presents. Now Jonathan was stretched out in front of the
fireplace lying on his stomach, his chin in his hands, on one side of the
two couples, and Wesley had taken the same position on the other. Hank sat
facing the fire, his arms around Beth who sat between his legs. Jason and I
were sitting the same way with me between his legs.
I was just drifting in the warmth of the fire and of Jason's touch when I
felt Jason's lips on the back of my neck. I turned my face to his for a
kiss and then stopped suddenly. If anyone was looking, I think we had
pretty much outed ourselves, but maybe not. I was sure Beth had already
figured out our relationship from what she had said earlier, even if it
hadn't been confirmed. Jason had told Jonathan about us while he was in the
hospital. The only one who didn't know about us was Wesley, and he had to
be a lot dumber than I thought to miss seeing it now.
Just as I realized that, Wesley turned over on his side, raised up and
said, "Don't get offended if I am wrong, but it seems to me Jonathan and I
are the odd men out here."
"Just what does that mean?" I asked, hoping my voice didn't betray my
Beth turned to look at Hank, laughed and said, "See, I told you your two
best friends were gay and in love."
I looked back at Jason who said, "Babe, I don't think we have much of a
"You two are gay? And lovers?" Wesley asked, proving, I guess, he was a lot
dumber than I thought. "I don't know why I asked that," he said. "I thought
so a couple times, then decided I was wrong. Are you?"
"Are we what? Gay and in love?" Jason asked. "Yes, we are in love and,
since we're both men, I guess that makes us gay. I don't know if that makes
us lovers or not. I'm sure if being lovers means having sex the way you and
Dwight were lovers--having sex I mean--I guess we're not. If being lovers
means being in love, really in love with each other, then we are."
"Yeah, I guess it depends on what you mean by being lovers and I assure
you, we haven't spent a lot of time discussing whether or not we are," I
"You know, I think this is a non-revelation," Jonathan said. "Wesley was
the only one of us who didn't know about you guys--well Beth just guessed,
but we didn't know it together, we knew it separately. You know what I mean
..." Jonathan blushed and stammered to a halt.
"Yeah, we know what you mean, Jonathan," Hank said.
"And I guess Hank is really the odd man out," Jonathan said and blushed
again. "I'm gay. At least I think I am. I mean I get crushes on boys so I
guess that means I'm gay."
"No need to label yourself one way or another, Little Brother. I guess at
fourteen you probably know whether you're gay or straight, but it's no big
deal," Hank said as he reached over and gave Jonathan a tap on the arm.
We all settled down to do some serious talking about our sexuality and the
implications so far as school, work and home were concerned. Nothing really
changed: Jonathan's sexuality was not to be discussed or announced. Jason
and I would play it by ear, but everyone did think giving Granddad time to
work through his feelings was a good move. No-one thought our sexuality had
anything to do with our work and certainly was not something we needed to
announce to Jake. School was a biggie. We agreed that we weren't about to
make any announcements but that if the subject came up we weren't going to
lie about it.
"And, guys," Hank said, "in spite of how I acted when I found out, I want
you to know that I am here for you when the time comes at school, and I
have no doubt it will."
"You don't know how much that means to us," Jason said.
"Yeah, there is no way you can know. Thanks," I said.
We talked a while longer and then headed off to bed. Hank walked Beth to
her room, kissed her goodnight and came up the stairs with us. When we got
upstairs, Jason said, "Obviously I will sleep with Doug--as usual. There's
Wesley's bed and the pull-down sofa in the den."
"I think I better sleep on the sofa," Wesley said.
"Why?" Hank asked.
"In case someone ever suggests I tried to seduce Jonathan," Wesley
said. "And, Hank, I suspect you don't want to sleep with a fag."
"In the first place, I don't like that word," Hank said, "and in the second
place you can't have it both ways. I either sleep with a gay brother or he
sleeps with you. Jonathan snores so I'll sleep with you, Wesley, and I
better have my virginity in the morning!"
"I didn't know you could get it back once it was gone," Jason laughed and
Hank tackled him and wrestled him to the floor. The two wrestled on the
floor until Jason finally got the better of Hank, pinning him to the
floor--or so he thought. Hank got one hand free, grabbed Jason by the back
of the neck, pulled his head down and planted a very wet kiss on Jason's
lips. Jason turned Hank loose and immediately started wiping his mouth with
the back of his arm as a kid will do, saying, "See, I'm wiping it off."
I found PJs for Hank and Jonathan and soon all five of us were sitting in
the den, dressed for bed. We seemed reluctant to leave each other. Finally
Jonathan said, "This is the most wonderful Christmas I have ever had. It's
really the first Christmas I have had of any kind. It's like I have a
family for the first time."
Wesley, who was sitting beside Jonathan, put his arm around the young man
and hugged him to himself. "I know what you mean, Jonathan. I have a
family, and Mary Capers and I are pretty close, but I know what you mean
about having a family."
We all fell silent, I suspect thinking our own thoughts about families.
After several minutes Jason said softly,"Don't you think it's amazing how
tragedy is transformed by love? I don't mean love like mine and
Doug's--well I do mean that too--but what the plain caring love of our
grandparents and, Hank, your parents, has made happen. Jonathan has been
saved from an abusive family and is loved as a member of the Dennison
family. Wesley has escaped from a horrible situation where he was placed by
his family and at least for now is warm and safe...."
"And a big, big part of that is being warm," Wesley said, softly.
"Out of a tragedy in which Doug lost all of his family, he has found a new
one, larger and certainly loving," Jason continued. "And I, I never had a
real chance in this world until tragedy struck."
Again, we all fell silent until Jonathan said, "Merry Christmas and God
bless us everyone!" To which we all responded in one way or another and
went off to bed, each of us in deep thought about our lives in our new and