Saga of the Elizabethton Tarheels
When we got down, Mrs. Metzer was waiting for us
in the terrace room. "Good morning. I trust you rested well." There was
general agreement and she continued, "Good. After you finish breakfast, I
think we need to discuss some plans for the week. There is a lot of
flexibility and the main thing is that you have a good experience but, for
now, enjoy your breakfast. I'll rejoin you for coffee. Sarah is on duty this
A very attractive young woman -- not much older
than we were, if at all, came into the room, pushing a cart. "Sarah is a
freshman in culinary arts at Florida Keys Community College. She started
last fall. Mrs. Crandall became very interested in the college several years
ago and tries to find students who need to work while attending school. She
gets people to do what she needs done, they earn a decent wage and have
working schedules which put school first. It is a good arrangement all the
Sarah had been pouring and serving orange juice
while Mrs. Metzer was speaking and, when she finished, said, "I have
prepared Belgian waffles with fresh fruit and whipped cream. I can, of
course omit the whipped cream if you like..."
"Bring it on!" Adam said, licking his chops, and
"The fruit topping is a mixture of fresh fruit.
I can, if anyone wishes, prepare a dish with fruit you select."
"You are the chef," Adam said. "We'll let you be
I had forgotten how good fresh-squeezed orange
juice was, and the juice Sarah served was exceptional. The waffles which
followed just could not have been better.
While we all ate like we were half-starved,
Justin and I still couldn't keep our eyes off each other, both grinning like
Cheshire cats. At one point I saw John looking at us and grinning as well.
Sometime later, I saw him look at Susan and wink. She was grinning too. They
looked very smug and were acting as if they were sharing a secret. Susan
even said, "Some people sure look bright-eyed and bushy tailed this
morning," in a very provocative way. Bobbie and Adam didn't seem to notice
or rise to the bait. In fact, they seemed absorbed in themselves or maybe
each other. When John responded with, "Yeah, some real tail-bushing going
on!" and laughed, Bobbie looked up, puzzled, and Adam just looked more
When we finished and the table had been cleared,
Sarah came with a cart and offered fresh coffee, hot chocolate or tea. As
she poured, Mrs. Metzer arrived and John seated her at the table. As soon as
she had fixed her coffee, she asked, "Do any of you know Dry Tortugas
"I seem to remember something about it.
Hemingway fished around some islands by that name, I think," Adam replied.
John nodded agreement. If any of us knew something about Hemingway, it would
be John and Adam, especially John. Both had done a research paper on
Hemingway the past semester, and John had turned it into a major research
project on the man and his writing all this semester. As a matter of fact,
John and Adam had an on-going debate about whether or not Hemingway had been
gay. Adam took the affirmative position with more noise than fact, while
John took the argument for the opposition and was always doing more
research. Guess such a question gives students something to do and keeps
them out of trouble. Anyway, the rest of us shook our heads indicating we
knew nothing at all about the park.
"Please stop me when you have heard enough,"
Mrs. Metzer smiled. "I happen to love the place and can go on and on about
it. There are seven islands, composed of coral reefs and sand, called the
Dry Tortugas. They, along with the surrounding shoals and waters, make up
Dry Tortugas National Park. It is famous for its bird and marine life, as
well as its legends of pirates and sunken treasure. The area is called dry
because, well, there's 'water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink,'
no fresh water at all. Since the days of Spanish exploration, the reefs and
shoals of the Dry Tortugas have been a serious hazard to navigation and are
the site of hundreds of shipwrecks.
"In the early 1800s, the military realized the
strategic location of the islands in the Florida Straits, and plans were
drawn up and construction started on a massive fortress, one of the largest
masonry forts in the world. It was an ambitious project, but never finished.
"The park lies between sixty and seventy miles
west of Key West and can only be reached by seaplane or boat. Antwon is part
of a business that offers boat trips to the islands and can arrange for a
seaplane when a group doesn't want to go by boat. When I suggested you might
like a day trip there, Antwon raised his usual protest, 'A day is not
enough.' It does take two hours or so to reach the islands by boat, so I
suggested a seaplane out with a boat meeting you there and then the boat
back. Antwon said he'd favor a boat both ways with an overnight on the boat,
and reminded me that both Mrs. Crandall and I had made an overnight with a
group of friends several times. I thought that was a good idea and made
reservations. Had I waited until you arrived, it would be likely neither
boat nor plane would have been available. In fact, it was a rare piece of
luck that Antwon could arrange an excursion, but I can cancel today if
you're not interested. Interested?"
"What do we know?" John laughed. "I guess we'll
just have to go and see. Truthfully, Mrs. Metzer, it sounds wonderful.
Antwon works for a charter service?"
"Actually, he's part owner of one -- Logan's
Florida Keys Excursions. He will, I assure you, provide an exciting two
days. If that's settled?" Mrs. Metzer looked around and saw six nodding
heads. "Fine, I'll go ahead and confirm your reservations. I'm also sure
you'll want to spend time in Key West. Since you are students, I thought
you'd like to visit the Hemingway house and museum. And while you'll have an
excellent view of the sunset here as well as on your trip, watching the
sunset in Key West is a big deal. But you can go to Key West on the spur of
the moment since it's not that far away. If you have seen The Birdcage, you
have some idea of one aspect of Key West. It's a very lively place."
"Wasn't The Birdcage about queers?" Adam asked,
to the embarrassment of us all.
"Yes, I suppose, in a sense, it is. It centered
around a gay couple," Mrs. Metzer said in a very neutral voice.
"I'm sure not interested in any faggots," Adam
"And I'm sure they are not interested in you,"
Mrs. Metzer replied with an icy smile, "but, fortunately, Key West prides
itself on accepting all kinds of people." Her voice was very even, but then
she added in a very soft aside, "Even bigots." After a pause, she went on,
"As I said, you can go to Key West on the spur of the moment, or not go at
all if you prefer.
"Today I thought you might like to stick close
and explore the estate -- the house and grounds. There's a bike trail and
bikes if you like to do that. If some of you want to do one thing and some
another, that's fine. I'll just need to know your plans so I can determine
if Antwon will be needed, and what you want to do for meals, especially if
you want something special like a picnic or won't be here for a meal but,
again, the goal is for you to enjoy your visit."
"It all sounds wonderful," Susan said, "and I
like the idea of exploring today. Say we gather for lunch at 12:30 and plan
on dinner at 8:00."
"So very civilized," John kidded her, "but,
sure, sounds good."
"Before we start exploring, I'd like to know
something of the history of this place," Justin said. "There has to be a
story here -- a whole bunch of stories -- I'm sure."
"True, very true and, again I don't want to bore
you to tears, but I do enjoy being a tour guide, especially when I can sit
in this house and talk about it! You are right, the stories about La Casa
"Of course the history of the area goes back to
the days of the Spanish exploration -- well, actually before that with
American Indians. The modern history of La Casa starts shortly after the
turn of the century when a Mr. Swanson bought the land and had plans drawn
up for the manor house and a village. The latter was to be a cluster of
houses for the servants and workers on the estate. It was completed first so
those constructing the manor house would have a place to live without
traveling to and from work, since most lived a distance away and traveling
wasn't as easy then as now.
"As soon as the village was completed, ground
was broken for the manor house. The foundations had just been laid when the
First World War broke out, so construction stopped. It was a while after the
war before construction could be resumed, so the house wasn't completed for
a number of years, being officially opened with a New Year's ball in 1929."
"Uh oh," Justin said.
"How right you are. While Mr. Swanson didn't
lose all his wealth in the crash, it was considerably reduced. As a result,
he decided he couldn't maintain two residences. La Casa, if you can believe
it, was only his winter cottage, so it was the one sacrificed. Ideally it
would have been sold, but the housing market after October 1929, you can
understand, was not thriving. Accordingly, La Casa was essentially boarded
up and left. Antwon's great-grandparents were members of the staff and
remained employees of Mr. Swanson. They were to look after the place as best
they could -- to make sure there were no
leaks to damage the house, break-ins, that sort
of thing. They weren't required to do much else and couldn't. Can you
imagine two people keeping this place? Well, that's one half of the story.
"Meanwhile, Mr. Crandall... and this can get
complicated since there are three Mr. Crandalls involved -- Mr. Crandall
senior, called Mr. Alexander; Mr. Crandall junior, called Alex; and Mr.
Crandall III whom we call Mr. Crandall since he was the husband of the
present Mrs. Crandall. Ok? Well, Mr. Alexander had been left a great deal of
money by his father and the Crandall wealth had not only survived the Great
Depression, but prospered during it. The story is his father had
struck it rich in oil and he couldn't turn it
off just because there was a depression going on.
"Anyway, Mr. Alexander fell in love with a
woman, Miss Janice Seymore, he met at a summer's party just after he had
graduated college. Unfortunately, she was already engaged to someone else.
Nevertheless, they moved in the same social circles and saw a great deal of
each other over the summer.
"At the end of summer party, Miss Seymore was in
attendance without her fiance and Mr. Alexander took advantage of the fact,
dancing almost every dance with her. While they were dancing -- and when
they sat out and talked -- he told her he would be leaving for the Far East
and anticipated being away until Christmas or the New Year. She made him
promise to write her and tell her about all the things he was seeing and his
experiences. "I wish I could travel, not on a grand tour, but to really see
people and places. You must write so I can imagine what it would be like,"
she had said. He wrote her almost
every day and she responded as often.
Nonetheless, she did not tell him she had broken off her engagement. When he
returned a few weeks before Christmas, he discovered she was as much in love
with him as he her. So far as anyone else knew, they had a whirlwind
courtship and announced their engagement at a New Year's party. They were
married in May 1930 -- he finally marrying the woman he had worshiped for
almost a year. The present Mrs. Crandall says Mrs. Alexander Crandall senior
wasn't hurting for money in her own right and their combined fortune was
"Both wanted a houseful of children as they were
only children themselves. After four years of marriage, they had been very
disappointed when there were no children and
they had been told by doctors here and in Europe, there never would be.
Then, surprise, surprise, Mr. Crandall junior was born -- their miracle
baby. When he was almost four, Mr. Swanson died and, in settling his estate,
La Casa was put on the market. Mrs. Alexander had been at La Casa for the
holidays in 1928 and the 1929 New Year's ball and had fallen in love with
the estate, not just the manor house. As soon as it was offered, she made an
offer which was immediately snatched up by the agent for the Swansons.
"Mrs. Alexander supervised the renovation of one
of the cottages in the village and the Crandalls spent Januaries and
Februaries here for couple years avoiding the worse months of their
hometown's -- Chicago's -- winters. Mrs. Alexander absolutely hated the
Chicago cold and asked about their making this their year-around residence.
Mr. Alexander liked the idea and they came down in early 1941 and decided to
reopen the manor house. World War II intervened and the renovations didn't
start until 1946. The Crandalls spent the war in Washington where Mr.
Crandall was working for some government project. I have never known
anything concerning it and apparently those who did have been very
closed-mouth. While the Crandalls spent what time they could here during the
war, it was very little.
"After the war, the Crandalls moved back and
started renovating the other houses in the village and moving in workmen as
a house was ready. That job was finished in 1950-51 and work started on the
manor house when the Korean War erupted. Mr. Alex was in the ROTC in college
and thought he'd escape the draft but, for reasons I don't know, he was
inducted into the Army -- I think in late 1952 -- younger than others being
drafted. He was always very bitter about it since he should have been able
to finish college and go in as an officer. I have always suspected a member
of the draft board was jealous of the
Crandalls and managed to pull a dirty one.
Anyway, the Korean War was still going on when the renovation of the manor
house was competed in 1953. Mr. Alex was in Korea so his parents didn't have
any official opening. Then when the war ended, Mr. Alex was still assigned
there until just before Christmas after the ceasefire was signed. The house
was officially reopened with a New Year's ball in 1954."
"I would have thought they would have learned a
New Year's ball opening was not a good idea," John grinned.
Mrs. Metzer laughed and said, "It would
certainly seem so. Alex was at the ball and, as his father had been at
beginning of summer party, was absolutely captivated by a young lady, Alice
Blaupoint, he met there. She was a graduate student working in marine
biology at one of the Key West research stations. Alex spent every minute he
could tear free from being a part of the host family chasing her, and
running from Melissa Grant -- the daughter of one of his mother's college
classmates. The mothers had decided the two would make a grand couple and
apparently Melissa agreed. Alex, on the other hand, told his mother Melissa
had cotton candy for brains and that was her best quality.
"Alice wasn't really interested in romance since
she was very involved in her research, but she did go out with Alex a few
times. When he began hinting at marriage, she suggested he look elsewhere
for a wife since she wasn't interested and too busy to think about it. He
persisted, and six months later they were married and came to live here on
the estate. Alex was gradually taking over his father's enterprises when, a
few months after his marriage, his father died of a massive heart attack and
Alice and Alex moved into the manor house.
"Apparently Alex was a born businessman and
worked day and night. Alice, likewise was busy, continuing with her research
through a pregnancy and after Alexander the third was born a year after they
were married. His parents, frankly, were pretty absent from Alexander's life
and his grandmother became his overly indulgent parent. According to stories
I have heard, he was an insufferable brat, but an absolute genius. His
grandmother died when he was twelve, and after her funeral he was hustled
off to a private school in New England. I've heard tell his parents,
frankly, couldn't stand to have him around. As a result, he spent year
around in school or some program. That, coupled with his natural genius,
resulted in his
graduating high school when he was just past
sixteen. Having been away in school so long, it seemed natural that he start
college right away.
"He was in his junior year of college when he
was old enough to join the ROTC. That was neither a popular thing to do at
the time nor a decision his father approved. To make matters worse, a year
or so later, he met a young woman working for inclusion of women in the ROTC
program and was determined to marry her. He brought her to La Casa and after
his parents met her, they put their foot down and told him they would
disinherit him if he did marry her. Contrary to his previous behavior, he
broke off the romance but, to get even, volunteered for immediate active
duty. At the time, sons of wealthy
parents were finding ways to get out of military
active duty and the Vietnam war. His father was violently opposed to
Alexander's decision because of his own experiences with the military, and
Alexander was just as determined to do the opposite of anything his father
did or wanted. Eventually he ended up a helicopter pilot in Vietnam.
"In the final days of the war, he took part in
the evacuation of Saigon, during which his aircraft was shot up. He managed
to get the crippled helicopter to within the rescue area of a naval ship and
was picked up. While he survived the crash, he was horribly burned and
no-one expected him to live. He was brought back on a hospital plane and
after months in a military hospital, released. His recovery was slow, very
slow, and he was left badly scarred.
"He came back to the estate and began working
closely with his father. To their surprise, they got along well and enjoyed
working together. His father was definitely slowing down and Alexander took
on more and more of the Crandall enterprises. His mother had tried to
convince him to submit to plastic surgery and, when he noticed his scarred
face was a handicap in business negotiations, he agreed. The process had
been going on for about a year when, after what was to
be one of the last operations, he got an
infection which kept him at death's door for several weeks. As if that
wasn't bad enough, while he was recovering from surgery and infection, both
his parents were killed in a plane crash.
"Since he was in a battle for his own life, his
doctors decided Alexander wasn't to be told, but after neither of his
parents had been to see him or call for several days, he demanded to know
what was wrong. Told about the crash, he went into deep depression and
simply decided he didn't want to live. It appeared he would get his wish
when the present Mrs. Crandall appeared on the scene. She was doing advanced
training to become a nurse practitioner and had previously worked as a
psychiatric nurse. She said it didn't take long for her to see what was
going on. 'I knew depression when I saw it and knew in this case more than
drugs was needed.' She took Alexander on as a special project and, for
whatever reason, he responded to her and after six weeks, left the hospital.
"To make a long story a bit shorter, Mr.
Crandall learned she had a spring break coming up..."
"Ah! The plot thickens," John said.
"I guess it does at that," Mrs. Metzer actually
laughed. "Anyway, he invited her to bring some friends and come to La Casa
for the break, which she did. When she completed her training in May, he
invited her and a group of friends down for a breather and, later, to
celebrate earning her certification as a nurse practitioner. As she was
practically ready to board the plane for her first job after that visit, Mr.
Crandall asked, 'Why don't you come to La Casa to stay?'" Mrs. Metzer smiled
an said, "Mrs. Crandall wasn't sure what he meant since he had never even
flirted with her, or so she thought. He had to do some explaining and then
some quick talking to have her consider his offer, but she didn't give him
an answer. When she got home, the gifts, cards, letters and phone calls just
kept coming. She finally called and said she guessed she'd have to accept
since she was being buried alive. They were married October of that year and
had five glorious years together, then the stress on Mr. Crandall's body
from his injuries and their after-effects caught up with him and he died
quietly in his sleep. Which, by the way, the family doctor told Alexander
would probably have happened to his father had he not died in the plane
crash. Anyway, Mrs. Crandall is now mistress of La Casa."
"Wow," Bobbie said. "A real love story."
"A very tragic one," Susan added. Everyone fell
silent for a moment, then Susan suggested, "So why don't we explore the
estate today -- maybe a bike ride this morning, explore the house when it
gets very hot outside, and then end the day at the beach."
"Sounds good to me," Justin said.
"Would you like a bonfire on the beach?" Mrs.
Metzer asked. When we agreed, she said, "I'll arrange that. When you are
ready for a bike ride, give Antwon a call -- dial 8 -- and he will meet you
downstairs, Marc, near the entrance to the pool. The bikes are stored
We went upstairs to our rooms and agreed to meet
in our suite in thirty minutes. Justin and I made short work of brushing our
teeth and when we undressed to get dressed for biking, were immediately in
each other's arms. After a long, hot kiss, Justin slid his lips down my
chest and covered a nipple with his hot mouth. He flicked it with his tongue
and teased it with his teeth which sent my already rock-hard cock pulsating
with each heartbeat. As Justin continue tonguing my chest, I reached down
and grasped his throbbing manhood as I kissed the curve of his neck. Justin
was soon wetting my hand with precum and started groaning my name. He
wrapped one arm around me and with his other hand grasped my cock, which was
also dripping precum like there was no tomorrow. Then, even though we had
both exploded in the shower not very long before, we started shooting at the
same time, each covering our lover with a physical sign of our newly
"Wow! Damn!" Justin said when he could finally
get his breath.
"Yeah! Wow! Damn, indeed!" I said in response.
Then, when I was finally mostly recovered, said, "We better take a
thirty-second shower to clean up and, even at that, we are going to be
"They can't go until you show them the way," he
said and stuck his tongue in my ear.
"Which means they will be here soon and I don't
think a locked door would send the message we want sent."
"Why don't we be really late?" Justin said with
a grin, his eyes sparkling. "Let's lock the door and spend the day exploring
"Would love to, really I would, but..."
"Yeah, I know. I was just daydreaming."
"Wet dreaming you mean," I said with a laugh and
ran to the shower with Justin chasing me.
We had just barely gotten dressed when John
knocked, stuck his head in the door and said, "Adam and I are headed down."
"You know the way?" I called out from my
"Well, no," John said, kinda embarrassed.
"Come on in," I said, "I'll be right with you."
Justin did the bathroom race and I stepped into the living room from my room
as Justin popped out the door of his.
Antwon was waiting for us when we reached the
storage area where at least a dozen very nice bikes were waiting. "Do you
ride at all?" John asked after we had spoken to Antwon.
"Just about every day. Well, every day I have
time," Antwon replied.
"Then I'm sure you are a lot better than any of
us. Why don't you change and come along? You can show us where to ride, and
point out the sights. You have plenty of time to change -- Susan and Bobbie
are not here."
"They are probably still deciding what to wear,
if Susan is like Bobbie," Adam said.
"So, yeah, why don't you come along?" John
"Would love to if y'all don't mind."
"Hey, you'd be doing us a favor," I responded.
"Give me ten," Antwon smiled. "I need to change
and advise Mrs.
Metzer of my whereabouts."
"No rush. We'll probably still be waiting for
For the most part, I would say that we are about
as liberal a bunch as you can find in eastern Carolina. Having said that,
though, I was a bit anxious about how Adam would react to having Antwon, an
African-American, riding with us. Adam has, sometimes, pulled the 'some of
my best friends are African-Americans' bit, and generally divided
African-Americans into ok and not ok groups, with athletes being ok and all
others not ok.
Antwon was back in a little more than ten
minutes, just as Bobbie and Susan appeared. When I saw him, I knew he was
definitely in the ok group. His biker's spandex showed off a magnificent
body. Adam didn't miss a chance to point it out, greeting Antwon with,
"Shit, Man, you are one built dude. Sure as hell wish I was built like
Antwon laughed and said, "Could be if you work
your flabby ass off!" as he smacked Adam on the butt. Three of us choked
back laughs as Adam turned bright red. "Ready to ride?" Antwon asked and
hopped on his bike.