As much as I loved my newfound family, it was nice to have the privacy that Mason and I enjoyed after their visit ended. We were soon returned to our routine of work, school and study. Jake began spending more and more time hanging out with Mason and me. George had begun to make friends with many of the residents of his retirement condo. He did often visit us, but it was obvious that he was happy. He enjoyed many of the activities arranged by the retirement center.
“It’s hard to believe that next week is finals week,” Mason said as he washed my back when we were showering. “It seems as though we just graduated from high school.”
“I know what you mean,” I said as I turned him toward me and began lathering his pubes and flaccid penis. I think I have an A in all of my classes. How are you your grades?”
“I may get a B in my humanities class. It is one of those classes that are boring to me.”
“You might luck out and get an A in that class after all. Whoa, big boy down.” Mason’s flaccid penis was now semi hard from my lathering. “We don’t have time to take care of that right now ore we’ll be late for our first classes.”
“Don’t blame me. You’re the one that got it that way.”
Mason and I made it through finals week and we had decided to go camping in the travel trailer for a week before beginning fulltime work at the office. “I want to go too,” Jake pleaded when he overheard us making plans.
“They don’t want you tagging along,” Roy interjected. “Besides, have you seen how small that travel trailer is?”
“I know, but I could pitch a tent,” Jake argued.
“I don’t mind if Jeff doesn’t,” Mason said.
“It’s fine with me,” I said. I was beginning to enjoy Jake’s company. “Why don’t you call Jason and see if he can come down and join us?”
“Wow! Really?” Jake asked.
“Sure, that way you would have a tent mate,” I said as I winked at him.
“I’ll call him now,” the excited Jake said.
Jake pulled out his cell phone and apparently had Jason’s phone number on speed dial. Soon a very excited Jake was chatting away with my cousin, Jason. Apparently Jake wanted a little privacy and he left the room while still chatting with Jason. “Your Aunt Judy wants to talk to you,” Jake said while handing me his phone after a ten minute conversation with Jason.
“Hi, Aunt Judy,” I said into the phone.
“Jeff, it appears that Jake is inviting Jason to go on a camping trip with you guys,” Aunt Judy said. “Are you okay with this?”
“Sure, it’s fine with me. Jake and Jason became friends over spring break and I thought this might be something they would both enjoy.”
“When and where are you going camping?”
“We were going to go Monday, but we haven’t decided for sure where yet. I thought about Devil’s Den State Park. It’s not far from here and has some nice areas for backpacking too.”
“Oh, I assumed that you were taking your travel trailer.”
“We are, but may backpack into a remote part of the park for one night.”
“Jason seems excited about it. Mom and I were leaving for Indiana in the morning anyway and we can drop him off there on our way. I assume that since you’re going camping you hadn’t changed your mind about going to Indiana to see your mom, have you?”
“No, I have no interest in seeing her. But, you and Grandma go with my blessing.”
“Okay Jeff, we’ll see you early afternoon tomorrow.”
“He gets to go?” Jake asked as I handed his phone back to him.
“Yes, Aunt Judy and Grandma are dropping him off here tomorrow on their way to Indiana,” I said. “Why don’t you clear it with your dads and Jason will spend the night at your house tomorrow night. That way Grandma and Aunt Judy won’t have to share a bedroom.”
“I know they won’t care,” Jake assured me.
“You’re probably right, but just the same clear it with them. Do they know about you and Jason?”
“I didn’t say anything to them.”
“Don’t you think you should say something?”
“Yeah, I’ll tell them when I ask if Jason can spend the night with me.”
“They will be arriving in the early afternoon. Come on out anytime you want tomorrow. I assume you’re not working tomorrow?”
“Oh, didn’t Dad Roy tell you that I’ll be working with you when we get back from camping?”
“I knew that you’d be working with me, but I wasn’t aware when. Did you already give notice at your old job?”
“I sure did. I gave two weeks’ notice and I have already worked those two weeks.”
In spite of it being Saturday, Jake was at our door before nine. “I thought you could use some help cleaning before your Grandma got here.”
“And Jason,” Mason teased.
“And Jason,” Jake admitted.’
“Jake, stop your pacing,” Mason commanded. “You’re making me nervous.”
“I can’t help it,” Jake said. “They should be here by now.”
“It’s just now noon,” I said. “Aunt Judy said they would be early afternoon. Go fix yourself a sandwich or something.”
“I ain’t hungry,” Jake said.
Just before one, my relatives arrived much to Jake’s delight. “They’re here,” he announced as he peered out the window and then ran out the door.
After exchanging hugs and greetings, Aunt Judy looked around and said, “Jeff this is an absolutely gorgeous place you guys have here.”
“Thank you, come on inside and make yourselves comfortable,” I said. We’ll get your bags inside later.”
“Go ahead, Jeff,” Jake offered. “Jason and I will take care of them.”
I noticed Jake give Jason a quick kiss as soon as Grandma and Aunt Judy were walking toward the house. I decided I would need to talk to Jake about being more careful in the future.
After a simple lunch of sandwiches, Grandma insisted that I show the waterfall to Aunt Judy. “It’s beautiful and peaceful down there,” Grandma said.
We all walked down the hill to the waterfall and Aunt Judy agreed that it was beautiful and peaceful. She laughed when I told her that Jennifer thought it would be an ideal place for a wedding. “Only sixteen and she is already talking about weddings,” Aunt Judy laughed.
“I need to run into town and get some steaks or something for dinner,” I said when we arrived back at the house.
“Don’t bother doing that,” Aunt Judy said. “Why don’t we all just eat out?”
“She’s right, Jeff,” Grandma said. “We can call Steve and Susan and the others to meet us there.”
“Okay with me,” I said. “Mason, you can call your parents and Jake you can call yours while I call Grandpa.”
“One thing genius,” Jake grinned, “Where will we be eating and what time?”
“What would you suggest?” I asked.
“How about the Venesian Inn in Tontitown?” Mason suggested.
“Yeah, that sounds good,” Jake agreed. “You get to make reservations.”
All agreed to meet us at the Venesian at six and Steve said that they would pickup George and give him a ride. With only two bathrooms we decided to avoid delay from our past experience and began getting ready a little early this time.
When we arrived at the restaurant Roy and Barry were already there and Steve, Susan and George arrived soon after. When I introduced Aunt Judy to Roy and Barry as Jake’s dads, she had a surprised look on her face. “Yes, we’re a gay couple,” Barry said.
“That’s fine by me,” Aunt Judy said. “It just caught me off guard. Jake appears to be a good kid. It appears you’ve done a good job with him.”
“He is a good kid,” Roy said. “We’re proud of him. We’re happy that you’re allowing Jason to go camping with these guys. You’ve done a good job with Jason and Jennifer too.”
The waiter interrupted the conversation long enough to take our drink orders. “I’m very proud of all my grandchildren,” Grandma said.
“Helen, I understand that you’re on your way to see Jeff’s mother,” George said. “If you don’t mind my asking, what do you expect?”
“I really don’t know, George,” Grandma acknowledged. “I know this is difficult for Jeff to understand, but she is still my daughter. As I told Jeff, I can’t condone what she and that man did to him, but I haven’t seen her since she was Jeff’s age.”
“We’ve asked Jeff to go with us, but he declined our invitation,” Aunt Judy said.
“Mom, if you did the things to me that she did to Jeff I would feel the same way as Jeff does,” Jason said. “Jennifer and I were lucky to have you and even Dad. He may be a bit of a redneck, but he loves us is has been a good dad.”
“Jason, Karen is still my sister and Mom’s daughter,” Aunt Judy said. “We have to go see her for our own good.”
“Listen everybody, I’m okay with them going to see my mom,” I said. “Why don’t we just drop the subject and enjoy our dinner and each other’s company.”
“Jeff is right,” Grandma said. “Let’s enjoy the evening.”
Dinner was great as was the conversation once we got off the subject of my mom. After dinner, Roy and Barry invited us to their place for drinks. Grandma declined the invitation stating that she and Aunt Judy wanted to get an early start tomorrow.
Jake invited Jason to spend the night at his house and, Jason eagerly accepted. We “old” people went back to the house and got ready for bed. I intended to get up early and cook breakfast before Grandma and Aunt Judy were on their way. However, when I arrived in the kitchen Grandma had already started breakfast.
“Grandma, I was going to do that.”
“I’ve been awake for a while and decided to just get up and make myself useful. Besides, I’ve already missed out on a lot of breakfasts with you.”
“I know Grandma. I wish I had known you all my life. I somehow feel cheated.”
“Jeff, are you really okay with us going to see your mother?”
“Of course I am, Grandma. Go and enjoy yourself and don’t worry about it. You’ve already asked me many times already, and I can understand your need to see her. However, I have absolutely no interesting in seeing her.”
“Jeff, I wish I could fix all the hurt you have endured. I can’t go back and fix that, but I can love you. You’re an exceptional young man. For the life of me, I can’t understand why Karen treated you the way she did. I intend to do my best to find out while I’m in Indiana. I have a feeling that she isn’t doing all that well. It could be all those years of drinking.”
Jason and Jake arrived in time for Jason to say goodbye to Grandma and Judy. We then made ourselves busy getting ready for our camping trip. I began cleaning the travel trailer and Jake and Jason decided to pitch their tent to make sure it was still in good condition. After they had the tent pitched, I went to check it out since they sometimes got moldy after storage. I pulled the entrance flap back and saw the two on the floor making out.
Jake wasn’t embarrassed, but Jason more than made up for Jake’s lack of embarrassment. I decided it was time for big brother-little brother type talk. “Guys, there’s no need to be embarrassed,” I began. “You’re just doing what comes natural. However, this is redneck country and you just have to be careful about showing affection in public.”
“Come on, Jeff, give us some credit,” Jake said. “We’re not going to be fucking outside the tent on our camping trip.”
Jason became beet red at Jake’s boldness. I knew I was the same way at his stage, and tried to make him feel comfortable. “Jake, you have to remember that this all new to Jason. Don’t be so brash.”
“I’m sorry, Jason,” Jake said. “I really didn’t mean to embarrass you.”
“That’s okay,” Jason said as his face began to return to its normal color.
“Jason, have you said anything to your parents yet?” I asked.
“Not yet,” Jason admitted. “I’ve planned it a couple of times, but I end up chickening out. I did talk to Grandma, and she said that when it felt right I would be able to do it.”
“Grandma is a wise woman,” I said.
“She certainly is,” Jason agreed. “I think Mom will be okay with it, but it’s Dad that concerns me. He could very well end up kicking me out of the house.”
“Jason, you know that Aunt Judy wouldn’t allow that,” I said. “You would always be welcome here you know.”
“Thank you, Jeff,” Jason said. “Grandma made the same offer.”
“I wish you lived here anyway,” Jake smiled. “You should come here and go to college when you graduated from high school next year.”
“I think I would like to do that,” Jason said.
“Have you thought of a major?” I asked.
“I thought about law?” He said.
“Cool!” Jake exclaimed. “You could work for my Dad Roy and Uncle Steve while you’re in college.”
“Don’t you think Roy and Steve would have to approve that?” I smiled.
“Jeff, this is the Jakester that you’re talking too,” Jake bragged. “Dad Roy will do what I ask him? You know that I’m spoiled rotten.
“I have no doubt about that,” I laughed. “Now, we need to get busy and get everything ready for our camping trip.”
“What’s that noise?” Mason asked me.
“It’s coming from the kitchen,” I said. “We’d better go see. No telling what kind of mess those two have made.”
“It’s about time you two sleepyheads got your asses out of bed,” Jake teased as he flipped a pancake. “We’re going to the park as soon as we finish breakfast.”
“Jake it is still early,” Mason said. “We have plenty of time.”
“Jason and I want to get there early and get a good spot,” Jake said.
“Hey, this is a good breakfast,” Mason said. “I didn’t know that you knew how to cook.”
“My Dads made me learn,” Jake said. “They think you can’t get your queer card unless you can cook.”
Mason and I loaded the dishwasher and cleaned the kitchen while Jake and Jason loaded our camping supplies. “I’ve never been camping before,” Jake said.
“We used to go all the time,” Jason said. “It’s so fun.”
Once the supplies were loaded, Jake announced that they were going on to set up their tent. “Do you know how to get to the park?” Mason asked.
“I sure do,” Jake said. “I printed directions from the internet.”
“We’ll be there in a couple of hours,” I said. “We need to hook onto the travel trailer and check everything out. Let me give you some money for the camp site.”
“I have it covered,” Jake said. “Besides, you bought all of the food.”
Mason and I arrived at the park just before noon. The park was in a beautiful setting in a valley on Lee Creek. There many campers, probably because it was a weekday. Jake and Jason had chosen a great campsite. There was a large oak tree that would give good shade, and it was in a location that offered some privacy.
In a short time we had the trailer leveled and connected to the sewer and electricity. It was a strange feeling to be back in the trailer that was my home for two year. I would always have a fondness of my little trailer. “Do you somehow miss it?” Mason asked when he saw that I was spaced out.
“In a way I do,” I admitted. “This was the first place that I ever felt safe. When things got bad, I would hide in that hollow tree, but I knew that it was just a temporary hiding place. The only think that I really worried about was being discovered and sent back to Illinois.”
“You’re a strong person to have gone through what you did,” Mason said. “I don’t know that I could have.”
“I guess it’s the resolve to survive,” I said. “I just did what I had to do.”
I prepared sandwiches for lunch and asked Mason to go to the tent and tell Jake and Jason that lunch was ready. Mason returned laughing and said, “Those two were going at it when I went to tell them to come to lunch.”
When Jake and Jason came inside to eat, Jake was grinning like the Chesser Cat. However, Jason was embarrassed and blushing. “Hey guys, there’s nothing wrong with showing affection,” I said. “Just remember that the tent doesn’t buffer much sound and these campsites are kind of close to each other.”
“We’ll give them some entertainment, right Jason?” Jake joked. Jason’s face immediately went red from embarrassment.
“Just remember that this is the middle of redneck country,” Mason said.
“Yeah, yeah Jeff already reminded us of that,” Jake said.
We spent the remainder of the afternoon relaxing, listing to music and napping. I began reading Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, a novel about the friendship of two Afghanistan boys. The warm late spring sun was like a sleep inducing tonic and we were all dozing off. After our nap Mason and I decided to go for a walk around the park. Jake and Jason decided to go along.
We found the camp office and got some maps of the park hiking trails. We then went to the park grocery store and bought a few items that we would need for hiking. For dinner Jake and Jason grilled steaks and I baked some potatoes and made a tossed salad.
After dinner we sat around and visited. We learned that Jason wanted to be a lawyer since he was in ninth. “Hey, you could work for my Dad Roy’s this summer,” Jake excitedly announced.
“You know that Jason’s parents would have to approve him being away from home all summer, and Roy would have to agree to this,” I said.
“He’ll do it if I ask him, I’ll call him now,” Jake said as he flipped open his cell phone. “Fuck, there’s no signal.”
“We’re in a valley,” Mason said. “You would probably have to go all the way out of the park to make a call.”
“I saw a pay phone down at the other end of the camp area,” Jake said. “I’ll go call from there.”
“Jake, you’re so damn impatient,” I said. “Jason would still have to talk to his parents.”
We continued our conversation into the night and then decided it was bedtime. I noticed flashes of lightning off to the east, probably somewhere in Oklahoma. “You guys had better sleep in the trailer tonight,” I said.
“Why is that,” Jason asked.
“It looks like a storm is coming in, and it wouldn’t be safe sleeping out under that tree,” I said.
“We’ll be fine,” Jake said. “If a storm comes in we’ll come inside.”
“No, you’ll sleep inside,” Mason insisted. “The storm could come in before you realize.”
“There’s just one bed in here,” Jake argued.
“The couch converts into a bed, or you can put the air mattress down and sleep on that,” I said. “The choice is yours, but you’re sleeping inside tonight.”
“Damn, I thought I had two dads,” Jake said. “It looks like I have four.”
“Yeah, and those other two dads would kill me if I let anything happen to you,” I said.
Around 3:00 am I was awaken by a loud boom of thunder. There were flashes of lightning and the wind was beginning to blow. “I’m glad we made them sleep inside,” Mason said.
“I am too,” I said. “Turn the radio on see if there are any weather warnings.”
I looked out the window at the moment a bolt of lightning struck the large oak tree. I heard Jake say, “Damn, that was close.”
“It would have been really close had we let you guys sleep in the tent,” I said.
“Okay, thank you “Dad,” Jake said.
The wind began to blow really strong followed by very heavy rain. “There are no storm warnings for this area,” Mason said. “There was a tornado east of Tulsa, but there were no injuries.”
“It looks like the storm has passed,” I said. “I’m going back to bed.”
I woke up to a bright sunshiny day. After taking my morning piss I went to the kitchen to make coffee. I smiled to myself when I saw Jason spooning Jake with his arm draped over him. I guess the smell of the coffee woke everyone up. “That coffee smells good,” Jason said.
Soon Jake and Mason were awake and joined us for coffee. “Damn, look at your tent,” Mason remarked when he looked out the window.”
“What?” Jake asked.
“There’s a big tree limb on it,” Mason said. “It’s lucky that you guys weren’t in it.”
“Let’s have breakfast and then we’ll check it out,” I said.
After breakfast we went out to check on the condition of the tent. While we were checking a park employee came by and asked if we were had a permit to go on one of the hiking trails.
“Yes, we do,” Mason said. “Is there a problem?”
“We are closing the hiking trails until we check to assure they are safe after all that rain we got last night. Your permit will still be good tomorrow if you want to use it then. Somebody will be by sometime today to clean up the debris from the storm. It looks like you lost a tent.”
“Yes, we were lucky that we these guys sleep inside,” Mason said.
After examining the tent we came to a consensus that it was a total loss. Jake decided that he and Jason would drive into Fayetteville and buy a new one.
“Do you have enough money?” Mason asked.
“Yeah, my Dads gave me some money,” Jake said.
While the boys were gone Mason and I took advantage of the private time and made love. We fell asleep wrapped in each other’s arms. We woke up to the sound of a chainsaw outside the trailer. The workers were cleaning up from the storm damage. One of the workers knocked on the door and asked if we wanted them to dispose of the tent. After checking that everything was removed the workers took the damaged tent away.
Jason and Jake returned shortly with burgers for lunch, and a new tent. “I called my Dads and Grandpa George to let them know that we were fine,” Jake said between bites of his burger. They had tried to call, but they didn’t realize there was no cell phone signal down here. They’re going to go by and pickup Grandpa George tomorrow and come out here and grill steaks with us.”
“I suppose I’ll need to go into town and buy some steaks,” I said.
“No, my Dads said that they would bring everything with them,” Jake said.
The hiking trail was awesome. There were several different types of rock formations caves, crevices and bluffs. We returned to the trailer at about 4:00 pm and had time to shower before our guest were to arrive.
“You have to help me talk Dad Roy into hiring Jason,” Jake pleaded.
“Hey, I’m not getting involved,” I said. “This is between Roy and Jason’s parents. I can offer Jason a place to live while he’s here.”
After dinner Jake moved over next to Roy and asked, “Dad, did you know that Jason plans to become an attorney?”
“Show time,” I whispered in Mason’s ear.
“Good choice of an occupation, Jason,” Roy said. “Where do you plan on going to College?”
“I thought about the University of Memphis,” Jason said. “Jeff likes the University of Arkansas, and I may consider that.”
“If you decide on the University of Arkansas, maybe we could give you some work in our firm while you’re in school,” Roy offered.
“Why can’t he come to work this summer?” Jake begged.
“We already have you, Jeff, and Mason,” Roy said.
“I could go back to work cooking hamburgers and he could have my job,” Jake said.
“No, you’re staying right where you are,” Roy said. “You just barely made enough money to pay your insurance there.”
“Come on Dad, please hire him,” Jake begged.
“It’s okay,” Jason said. “I’m supposed to work with Dad this summer and he is getting me a car. We can see each other on long weekends and holidays.”
Our camping trip ended the next day. Grandma and Aunt Judy were due back from Indiana and would be picking up Jason. We got everything packed away and the trailer hooked up to the Tahoe. “That was fun, we should do this more often,” Mason said as we drove back home.
“It sure was,” I agreed. “We need to go grocery shopping on the way home so we will have something for dinner tonight when Grandma and Aunt Judy get home.”
“How about some grilled pork chops,” Mason suggested.
We unpacked the trailer and waited for Grandma and Aunt Judy. Finally at about 4:30 the doorbell rang. When I answered the door I expect Grandma and Aunt Judy. But, to my surprise Mom was with them.