Saga of the Elizabethton Tarheels
We started down the long front drive, but took a
side trail about halfway to the gate. The trail was a well-maintained one
and, while not paved, had a surface that prevented bikes sinking into the
Florida sand. It was wide enough for all of us to ride abreast and Antwon
told us we could, since it belonged to the estate and was built for
recreation. "Should a maintenance vehicle need it, they would definitely be
on the lookout for bikers, walkers, and joggers. In a sense this belongs to
the community, as do all the grounds of La Casa. There's a side gate at the
entrance which is wide enough for a bike and for picnickers. Only rule is to
respect the place -- clean up your own mess and don't pick the flowers. The
always insisted the grounds should be enjoyed by
We rode in silence for a few minutes, then Adam
asked, "How did you get so buff? Working in a gym a lot?"
"That's a part of it now, but it started
elsewhere. Well, I'm not ashamed of it since it's a part of the past which
got me to where I am now, and I like where I am. Don't know how much of a
story you want to hear though."
"All of it," Bobbie said. "We all love a good
"You'll have to judge how good it is and you
have to promise to let me know when you've had enough.
"It started before I was born as, I suppose, it
always does, Antwon laughed. I'm one of those kids born to kids. My mom was
fifteen when I was born and my biological father was in prison for statutory
rape of another kid, a fourteen-year-old. He was twenty-four. Anyway, my
mama never saw him again after he got her pregnant and I never laid eyes on
"We lived with my grandmama here on the estate
-- we'll see the house where I grew up in the village. When my mama was
sixteen, she ran away with a twenty-year-old man, leaving me with my
grandmama. They went to live in Detroit and, believe it or not, apparently
had a decent marriage. There were no other children, a result of the
pregnancy which produced me. Once I got old enough to know such things, I
wondered if her husband didn't resent me because of that. Anyway, I only saw
my biological mother once or twice a year. So far as I am concerned,
Grandmama is my mama.
"I did ok through grade school and the first
part of middle school. I could have made better grades, but I was both lazy
and spoiled." Antwon laughed. "When I was in the seventh grade, I caught the
'school's not cool' disease which infects too many African-American boys. I
started hanging out with a bunch of 'real men,' who liked to call themselves
gangstas. In fact they were just real losers -- ones not dead already are in
prison or jail. Soon I was smoking weed, ditching school, and working hard
at being cool, a real wannabe gangsta. They allowed me to hang with them
because I did anything they asked -- steal beer, weed, run drugs, carry
their personal drugs. Stupidity made me think they thought I was cool. My
grandmama was pulling her hair out, but I was being somebody. Well, I guess
it was predictable. I got caught with a bag of weed I stole from Fat Boy --
the king of our little country -- for Shanks, leader of my pack so to speak.
Actually, I was lucky at that since had I not been caught, Fat Boy's
homeboys would have beat me within an inch of my life IF I was lucky! Shanks
had run for cover as soon as he saw the cop, abandoning me. Taught me a
lesson, sure did.
"I learned later the juvie judge had just heard
seven cases of middle schoolers caught with serious drugs, guns, as well as
stolen goods and she was, if you'll pardon the expression, seriously pissed.
I don't think she even listened to my case, just sentenced me to five years
in juvie -- until I was eighteen.
"After being beat up shortly after I was placed
in the detention center, and then raped -- twice -- I had a definite shift
in priorities. I knew I'd be beaten and raped again if I could not defend
myself. The first step to that goal was getting into shape. The juvie's
equipment was old, but a weight's a weight and I started training as best I
could. I spent two-three hours working out and training to defend myself.
That occupied part of my time. I was taken under the wing of a huge fellow,
Big Jake, who was as gentle as could be most of the time, but hated to see
someone picked on. I worked hard to be able to protect myself when my
protection was gone -- he only had nine months left of his term. When Big
Jake told me goodbye, I was ready to take care of Antwon and only had to
prove it once.
"Like big prison, there wasn't enough to do in
juvie, so it was boring, boring, boring. In addition to working out, I had
six hours of classes a day and, since doing something was better than doing
nothing, I started doing my school work again. I did well, better than I had
ever done in school before, and since there was no reason not to do school
year around, I did
two and a half grades in two years.
"After I'd been inside two years, my grandmama
managed to get a lawyer to look at my case. He told her even though I had
been guilty of a lot, my sentence was out of line with similar cases. He
went back to juvie court and I got transferred to a boot camp -- sure you've
heard about Florida boot camps since the kid smothered by guards in one made
national news. Didn't surprise me, but there's enough fuckups to keep the
guards off your back if you just follow the rules. I knew that if I kept my
nose clean, I'd be out in less than a year and if I did not, it was back to
juvie. I was a good boy, a very good boy.
"I had been in boot camp six months when I came
up for review, and was told it would determine whether it was out or back to
juvie. After the review, I was told I would be released if 1) I agreed to
close mentoring, 2) found a sponsor, 3) agreed to very strict rules --
curfew, school, job, etc. That was all well and good, but I had no way to
find a sponsor, job, any of
"Grandmama had worked for the Crandalls since
she started work at sixteen and asked Mrs. Crandall if she would help out,
so here I am. Got my high school diploma and started doing community
college now and working here. Oh, and there is a workout room down by the
indoor pool and I try to work out at least three times a week. So, yeah, you
don't have to take the hard road I took, but you gotta work to build a body
like mine. Helps if you work out your mind as well." He laughed.
"You said you have been doing community college
-- part of Mrs. Crandall's school and work program, right?" Adam asked.
Antwon nodded. "What field?"
"Mrs. Metzer told you I'd be going to Dry
Tortugas with y'all?"
"Antwon, if I may interrupt," Susan said.
"I don't know how to put this, but you talk
"Awww ah can jive dat jive when I wants ta, slap
mah fro!" Antwon laughed, "but I guess you could say I'm bilingual. I can
and do use the one that works."
"About Dry Tortugas," Adam urged. I think he was
embarrassed by Susan's question. "Mrs. Metzer said you'd be going and that
would make the trip extra special."
"It sure will," Antwon laughed. "You will be
getting the finest trip available. Actually, it will be special because my
partner and I will be breaking our necks to make it special. See, when I
started at Florida Community College, I had some vague idea of wanting to do
something having to do with the marine world. When I took my first marine
biology class, my lab partner was this really ho... great guy, Sharky, and
in no time at all we were best friends. After we had known each other for a
couple months, he had a problem with his landlord and since my house was
rent-free -- as an employee of the estate, I live in the village -- I
invited him to move in. That was over a year ago and we are still waiting
for our first serious disagreement."
"Sounds like a very special friend," John said.
"Something like that," Antwon replied and, I was
sure, blushed. Just as John had made the comment, I noticed the plain gold
band on Antwon's left hand and was sure he and Sharky were more that just
special friends. "Anyway, Sharky -- his name is Mason, but when he was just
a kid he caught a tiny shark and pitched a fit when his dad told him
couldn't keep "Sharky" for a pet. His dad started calling him Sharky and the
name stuck. Anyway, we really were spending a lot of time together --
school, living together and all, and talked a lot about what we wanted in
the future. He worked for an excursion and diving company in Key West and
was taking a two-year diving and business program, as well as taking courses
in the marine technology. After that first marine biology course, I was
hooked as well, and thought about working in marine research or recreation.
"I mentioned that to Mrs. Crandall and she
suggested I see about getting a job in the business. I hadn't thought about
that since I was obligated to the estate, but she said, 'We can work around
your outside work schedule as well as your school schedule. You don't want
to spend your life just waiting around for me to need you.' I told Sharky
and he asked his boss about my going to work with them and was told I could
have the first opening. In a month or so, I got a job.
"Sharky and I talked about our own marine
business -- probably excursions -- but it was just a dream, and all we had
was our willingness. Then, Mrs. Crandall asked about a trip to Dry Tortugas
for herself and six of her friends. The boss suggested Sharky and I take it
and do everything from the get-go. We planned an overnight trip like the one
you will be doing. It went well, very well, and the word spread among Mrs.
Crandall's friends and from them to other people with money -- you have to
have a high debt limit on your credit card or a stack of cash for an
overnight excursion for half a dozen or more people. People started asking
for the 'Sharky and what's his name's' tour, and we were working every
weekend and as often through the week as we could be away.
"Six months ago, Mrs. Crandall called me into
her office -- that meant serious business was in the offing -- and asked
what I knew about Logan's Florida Keys Excursions. I told her it used to be
one of the finest, but Mr. Logan had slowed down then retired, and his son,
who was only half-interested in the business, was running it. Actually, he
was less than half-interested. He had a real estate business and hated the
excursion business since he worked there during high school and college.
Seems that's a common problem for sons who work for their fathers..."
"Yeah, it sure is," Adam agreed.
Antwon nodded in acknowledgment and continued,
"Mrs. Crandall asked if the business could be resurrected and I assured her
it could. That ended the conversation and I wondered what was going on.
"Two weeks later, she called to the house and
asked if Sharky was home. When I told her he was, she asked us to come to
her office. I felt like I was being called to the principal's office.
"When we arrived, she explained she had been
talking with old Mr. Logan and both were interested in preserving a good
excursion service and, since his son wasn't really interested, she had
worked out a deal if we were interested. 'It's a good deal for Mr. Logan and
myself,' she said, 'but it all hangs on whether or not you two think you can
run the business. The deal I am offering, fellows, is to buy the business
and equipment. You two agree that the equipment it is all top notch except
for some minor refurbishing. We will be partners, share and share alike,
except fifteen percent of your income will go toward purchasing my share of
the business.' So we became businessmen and look forward to the day when
that will be our only job."
We were riding along the trail, shaded by very
old trees that formed an arch overhead. Of course, since we were in south,
south Florida, it was still very warm in spite of the shade. We had been
riding for maybe twenty-thirty minutes when, suddenly, we emerged from the
trees. The trail now became a regular street, fronting a group of houses.
Between the trail and the houses were very neat lawns and behind the houses
-- actually, I guess, in front of them -- was the Gulf of Mexico.
"This is the village built for workers who would
be constructing the manor house," Antwon said. Mr. Swanson named it La Aldea,
but I think he was the only one who ever called it that. It has just been
called the Village as long as anyone can remember. There are twelve houses,
as you can see. Now only six of them are occupied with people who work for
the estate. Three are for retired employees and three are, I think, rented.
The one with all the flowers is my grandmother's. She is retired now and
lives for free as she did when she was on the payroll."
"Mrs. Metzer lives here?" Bobbie asked.
"No, she has an apartment in the manor as do the
chef, head housekeeper, and several others. I think full-time and part-time
there are about fifty on the staff, but many of them are part-time college
students. You met Sarah. She works maybe three meals a week unless there's
something special. College is on spring break so we all are putting in extra
we can. The gardener lives in the house with NO
flowers, just that beautifully groomed lawn. Flowers would be a busman's
holiday for him and he wants no part of it. The chief of maintenance lives
in the cottage at the end of the street and Sharky and I live in the one
with the Jeep out in the drive, which means Sharky's home. Ready for some
key limeade?" He
didn't have to ask twice.
We rode to the front of the house -- the gulf
side -- parked our bikes and went inside. "'Ey, Sharky, we got company,"
Antwon shouted as we trooped into a tidy living room. It was obvious that
the occupants were into things marine and nautical from the pictures and
decor in the room. A huge aquarium filled with very colorful fish was set
into the living room wall. It immediately caught our attention.
We were so absorbed in watching the fish that we
didn't see Sharky come into the room. "Welcome to Mini-Casa," a deep, soft
voice said. When I turned from the aquarium, I saw a tall, well-built young
man whose startlingly blue eyes were sparkling, his face illuminated by a
wide smile. Sharky was wearing short trunks and was barefoot. His
sun-bleached blond hair, set off by a bronze tan, was clearly something a
lot of blonds would die for. "Welcome."
"Mini-Casa?" Bobbie asked.
Antwon was standing beside Sharky, grinning from
ear to ear. "Obviously, this is Sharky," he said, "business partner and
housemate." Antwon then introduced each of us in turn. He introduced Adam
and I noticed when he extended his hand to Sharky there was no smile on his
"Mini-Casa?" Bobbie asked again.
"What else?" Sharky laughed. "To tell you the
truth, we wouldn't trade with Mrs. Crandall for Mega-Casa, although I think
at times she'd like to." When he asked, "All ready for a cool drink?" there
was universal assent.
"Need any help?" I asked, hoping for a yes. I
wanted to talk to Sharky, even if for only a couple minutes.
"I never turn down free help," he laughed.
With two males in the house, I guess I assumed
they were fast food consumers and was surprised when we walked in to a very
well-appointed kitchen. "Appears someone around here cooks."
"Antwon," Sharky said, as he handed me a pitcher
of limeade and started putting ice in glasses. "We are the perfect
combination: Antwon likes to cook and I like to eat. Well, I like to work
outside and Antwon enjoys beautiful landscaping."
"That's something I'd like to talk to you and
Antwon about. Not about cooking and eating, but about being a combination. I
"You're gay, of course," he stated and I nodded.
"I thought as much. And Justin's your partner?"
I couldn't look at Sharky and kept my head down
as I filled glasses. "I guess, yeah, I mean, as of last night ..."
"Oh, what happened last night?" Sharky asked.
"Well, we admitted to each other we were in love
-- with each other I mean."
"And it was a surprise? I'm surprised you were
surprised. It seemed pretty obvious to me, but maybe it's because you are
new at the game and can't keep your eyes off of each other. But, yeah, I
spotted it right off."
"You did? That makes me pretty nervous when I
think about going back to North Carolina."
"Oh, no, school and all."
"We'll make a chance to talk, but right now we
better get drinks to the crowd. Thanks, by the way, for trusting me."
We took the limeade in and everyone seemed to be
enjoying themselves except, maybe, Adam. He didn't look too happy. I suspect
he was having to come to grips not only with two well-built, definitely
masculine, guys who were pretty obviously gay, but also one black and one
white. Adam had serious problems with a mixed-race couple last year. To make
it worse, it involved one of his jock buddies who started dating an
African-American cheerleader. I suspect it was not pleasing to him now, even
though the two were gay.
"So, Sharky, Antwon told us you two met in a
marine biology class. What, a year ago?" John asked.
"That's about right. We've been living together
over a year. Yeah, we were lab partners and right off found we had a lot to
talk about, enjoyed many of the same things and -- as I told Marc in the
kitchen -- we are a good combination. Antwon likes to cook and I like to
eat!" Sharky grinned.
After we finished our limeade and were leaving,
Antwon was last outside and I saw him kiss Sharky before joining us.
Fortunately, Adam was already on his bike.
We rode to where the trail looped back toward
the manor house. The return trail ran along the beach, a totally different
experience than our ride out. We were back at the house just in time to
shower before lunch.
I undressed and headed to the shower. Justin had
entered from his bedroom and stood waiting for me. As soon as I saw his
beautiful body, I started getting an erection. I don't know whether it was
my own nude body or just Marc Junior, but as I grinned at Justin, Mr. Smith
started becoming Mr. Big Smith. Of course we had seen each other naked
plenty of times, but now that our relationship had changed our cocks
reflected it. Both of us were grinning like a jackass eatin' briers when we
embraced. Our kisses started out pretty hot, but got hotter and hotter, our
mouths open, our tongues doing battle while our hard cocks poked each other.
Finally, Justin's cooler head prevailed and he said, "Look, I don't think we
even to jerk off together. Lunch is waiting or
will be in a matter of minutes. Think we can cool it enough to get
"I happen to think we are presentable right
now," I grinned and kissed Justin again.
"You might, but I can think of at least four
others who would likely disagree."
"Sad to say, but I guess you're right." With a
final passionate kiss, we broke our embrace and hit the shower.
It was all we could do not to start something in
the shower, but we were able to stop with just soaping each other. A quick
rinse and toweling and we were ready to get dressed.
I was afraid we'd get downstairs and find the
other four past ready to eat, but only John and Susan were waiting.
"Where are the lovers?" Justin asked.
"You mean other than you two," Susan said with a
grin. Justin and I both gulped.
"And before you start to deny anything," John
said, "congratulations. Susan has said for quite a while now you two would
come out when you were ready. Happy for you and wish you the best of luck.
You'll need it."
"Yeah, I have thought about that for a good
while, ever since I admitted to myself that I was gay. I really dread Bobbie
and Adam finding out, but I guess since you and Susan figured it out before
we did, they must know,
"I don't think so. Adam is so homophobic that
he'd never admit to himself that he has gay friends and, besides, the two of
them have something going on. They seem distracted and generally not with it
these days," Susan said. "And, by the way, I add my congratulations to
"Yeah, again congratulations, I'm happy for you
guys," John said, extending his hand.
"Only sorry you weren't out to each other
earlier, but better late than never," Susan said and embraced each of us.
"We having a love feast?" Adam asked as Susan
and I broke our embrace.
"Sure," Susan said, and embraced Adam while John
hugged Bobbie. Then Justin and I embraced Bobbie and shook hands with Adam.
"Well, I am ready for food," Justin said. While
we ate, we talked about the morning and I noticed Adam avoided any
conversation about Sharky and Antwon. We also talked about what we wanted to
do in the afternoon and night. "I vote for a bonfire on the beach tonight.
We can roast hotdogs and marshmallows."
"And s'mores," Bobbie added.
"And s'mores," Justin agreed.
"Susan, you've been a Girl Scout for years, do
you know the difference between the girl and boy recipes for making s'mores?"
Bobbie laughed and the rest of us looked dumb.
"Recipe? A recipe for s'mores? There has to be a
catch here somewhere," Adam said, "but I'll bite. What is the difference
between the girl recipe and the boy recipe for s'mores?"
"The girl recipe: Take a graham cracker -- the
one with four parts marked -- and break in half crosswise. Place a Hersey
chocolate square on it. Place a hot toasted marshmallow on the top. Use the
second half of the graham cracker to close your sandwich."
"Yeah, right," Adam said, "so?"
"The boy recipe: Eat the chocolate, eat the
marshmallow, throw the graham cracker at another boy," Susan laughed.
"Yeah, right!" Adam said and did a high five
with Justin and John and me.
"I'll let Mrs. Metzer know about tonight," Susan
said. "She said Antwon would lay a bonfire for us."
"Hey, let's ask Antwon to join us," John said.
"And Sharky," Susan quickly added.
I saw storm clouds gathering over Adam and
braced for an outburst, which came.
"I don't know about you guys, but I think I had
enough gay shit this morning, so I'd like NOT to invite Antwon and Sharky to
join us. I mean, I guess there's no way we can get out of the trip to Dry
Incredulous, John asked, "You want to cancel
"Look, we'll be on a boat with those two faggots
for two days. I'd like for that not to happen, but I can see no way of
getting out of it, but I'll pass on spending any more time with a faggot
nig... African-American," Adam said with a sneer, "and his white boy pussy,
thank you. That also goes for spending any time in flaming Key West." I
guess I wasn't very surprised, but I was surprised that Adam seemed to be
expecting agreement. Personally, I was getting pretty pissed off with his
shitty attitude and one look at Justin's face told me he felt the same way.
"Hope you keep that opinion to yourself around
here and around us," John said, very quietly. "Offend either Antwon or
Sharky and you could get the shit beat out of you." Adam with no shit? That
has a definite appeal. "I don't know about Bobbie, but I can assure you none
of the other four of us share your bigoted attitude. So just keep it to
yourself. If you don't want to make the trip, I am sure all you have to do
is tell Mrs. Metzer. As for me, I wouldn't miss an opportunity like that and
sure don't want it ruined by your sneering and sulking."
As John spoke, I suddenly realized two things.
One was that the six of us had never had problems among us since we left
grade school. The second was that while John was as quiet as ever, he surely
was less passive since his summer in Atlanta.
"I couldn't agree more, John," Justin said.
Susan and I just nodded. I don't know what else might have been said because
Mrs. Metzer came in the room and all was smiles around the lunch table.
One look at Susan and I could see something was
brewing. "Mrs. Metzer, I suspect we will want to have an early night Tuesday
since, I understand, we will be leaving very early Wednesday," Susan said.
"Right, very early. How does leaving here at
five strike you?"
"Ugh!" Susan responded. "Look, Clan, what about
a trip to the Hemingway Museum this afternoon and the bonfire on the beach
Tuesday night?" Susan asked. "That way 'early to bed, early to rise,' would
be easier to manage."
"Sounds reasonable," Mrs. Metzer responded.
"Would you like reservations for dinner in Key West as well? That would mean
you could spend as much time as you wanted at the museum and doing anything
else which might interest you --window shopping, real shopping, seeing the
sights. Then Tuesday night on the beach and early to bed."
"Sounds good," Bobbie said. I wondered if her
agreement was to send a message to Adam. "Although Adam may not be
"Yeah, think I'll just hang around here, if
"Whatever you want is ok," Mrs. Metzer said.
"There's the pool, gym downstairs, and the library if you'd like to find
something to read."
"I'll be fine, thank you."
"I guess you will need supper. If you like, I'll
have cold cuts left and you can fix a sandwich when you like."
"Sure. Thank you." As Mrs. Metzer left the room,
Adam said, "I guess that takes care of the beach tonight."
"It does," Susan said. "As I said, Tuesday
evening would be a better time for that since we'll want to get to bed
early." Adam was definitely having a problem with Susan making decisions, as
well as a whole lot of other shit.
Adam turned to Bobbie and asked, "Well, are you
going or staying -- to Key West this afternoon, I mean?"
"I'm going. Of course I'm going. I wouldn't miss
the chance to see the Hemingway Museum." Adam looked a bit hang-dog and
downcast, but he is stubborn and I knew he would not go with us. Bobbie was
-- I was surprised -- obviously pissed at Adam.
As soon as we finished lunch, Mrs. Metzer told
us Antwon would meet us downstairs. When we reached the front, a SUV was
waiting for us with Antwon in the driver's seat. "Where's Adam?"
"He's being a horse's ass," Bobbie answered.
"Forget about him, I am." I had never seen or heard Bobbie be quite so
"Go girl!" Susan said as she gave Bobbie a high
"Sharky not up to the trip?" I asked as I
climbed in, the last of the five.
"He's already in Key West. He left as soon as we
left the house. He had just come in to pick up some things he needed for
this afternoon's excursion. He had a group going out on the boat just to go
out on a boat. Not much money in that, but we do it when we don't have a
better deal. Captain Miles is with him since I figured I would be busy."
"Captain Miles?" I asked.
"Captain is a retired naval officer -- a real
one, there are a lot of self-promoted captains around here -- who does it
for the fun and because he took a liking to both me and Sharky. When he
retired, he moved here with his partner of some thirty years. Talk about
prejudice, what he and his partner went through when they were young! Don't
know how he managed to fool the navy, except his partner was an accountant
in Kansas City so Captain would come off his ship and disappear until time
to board again.
"Anyway, when Captain retired, they came here.
His partner died of lung cancer three or so years ago and he was at loose
ends and hung out at Logan's talking with Mr. Logan. Then he started going
on excursions as a guide just for the fun of it. He's a great story teller
and has a stock of stories which are very entertaining -- some of which are
based on a fact or two!" Antwon laughed. "When we took over the business, he
asked about staying on -- for free. We didn't want him working for nothing
and couldn't afford to pay him. When Mrs. Crandall heard that, she decided
as a partner in the business she could give him a rent-free house in the
village and he thought that was a very good idea. Not only is he a nice
partner in the business and a great friend, but also it's good to have
someone around who understands what's involved in being a gay couple."
"Three gay sailors on board when we head to Dry
Tortugas," I thought to myself. When I glanced at Justin, I could see he was
having similar thoughts. Even more surprising, John had a very wicked smile
on his face!