Graduation from high school was near for Mason and me. I had mixed feelings about my graduation. I had found a time and place in my life where I felt safe. Sure, I knew I was now an adult and could take care of myself; however there was something from my past that I had missed out on. The two years between running away from home and my eighteenth birthday were spent looking over my shoulder. I looked forward to the future, but still felt I had been cheated out of my childhood.
Mason was wonderful, but this was something he couldn't comprehend. He grew up with loving parents and had a happy boyhood. "How could your mom cook for you and buy you nice clothes and then beat the hell out of you?" He asked one day in the break room at work as he struggled to understand the complications of my boyhood.
"Mason, I don't understand it myself," I tried to explain. "But, part of it was selfishness on their part, and part was the alcohol took over. When it first began it was mostly when they were drunk. As time passed they didn't seemed to need a reason."
"What do you mean by their selfishness?" Mason asked.
"My parents saw me as a burden that caused a change in their lifestyle," I said. "Rather than to just give me up for adoption, they beat the shit out of me."
"You'll get your revenge when we get to court," Roy said as he overheard our conversation.
"I think I got my revenge when I got to knock my dad on his ass," I said. "I just can't get all that excited about the lawsuit."
"Look Jeff, you're parents inflicted physical abuse on you for years," Roy said. "Your knocking your dad on his ass one time is no comparison. This will hurt them in the pocketbook where they will feel it for a very long time. Tomorrow when you get here I need to go over the case with you."
The next day was the awards assembly at the high school. I had applied for several scholarships because I knew that student loans and scholarships would be the only way I could afford college. "I'll bet you get valedictorian," Mason said as we found two vacant seats together in the auditorium.
"I'll probably get salutatorian," I said. "I think Liz Mendenhall will get valedictorian."
"Nope, you may as well start preparing your valedictorian speech," Mason assured me.
"All I want is to get a decent scholarship out of this," I said. "Otherwise, I may have to work a year before going to college."
"You'll have the money," Mason said with an air of certainty. "You'll win that lawsuit."
Before I could respond Mrs. Brownlee, Dean of Students, began the assembly by introducing Principal Bill Justice and several school board members. Mrs. Brownlee began the announcements of different scholarships. "It is with great pleasure to announce the award of the Granger Academic Scholarship. This scholarship is for four years of tuition, books and other fees at the University of Arkansas. The recipient of this scholarship is Jefferson Paul Parker."
After prying myself from Mason's bear hug, I nervously made my way to the podium to receive my scholarship. After receiving congratulations from Mrs. Brownlee, Mr. Justice and the school board members, I started back to my seat when Mr. Justice asked me to remain. Mr. Justice then said, "Would the following students please come to the podium; Elizabeth Mendenhall, Scott Bynum, and Cassie Kauffeld." After the three were on the podium and standing next to me, Mr. Justice said, "I'm pleased to announce the valedictorian and three salutatorians of this year's graduating class. The three salutatorians are; Cassie Kauffeld, Scott Bynum, and Elizabeth Mendenhall. This year's valedictorian is Jefferson Parker."
"Attaboy, Jeff!" I heard Mason yell. This was followed by some laughing and then applause. I never expected the applause since I was somewhat of a loner. Mason was the one that talked to everybody in school. I, on the other hand, pretty much kept to myself. Oh sure I would talk to people, but Mason was the only person at school that I let get close.
I had ten days to write my graduation address and I didn't have a clue what to talk about. Mason assured me that I would do fine. Steve had sent Mason to the court house to pick up some paperwork and I decided to take advantage of the lull to work on my speech. I had written about ten pages and ended up tossing each one into the trash when Roy interrupted me and said, "Hey Buddy, I hate to bother you, but I have some things I really need to talk to you about the lawsuit."
"That's okay," I said. "I wasn't getting anywhere with this speech anyway."
"I'm sure that your speech will be fine," Roy said. "Nobody listens to those things anyway."
"What is it you wanted to talk to me about?" I asked Roy as he sat across from me at the table where I had been working.
"We need to go over your journal and talk about some of the questions your parent's attorney might ask," Roy said. "Bruce said that their attorney can be brutal when he does the cross examination on you. I don't want to give him any openings when he does this."
"All I can do is be honest and tell the truth," I said as I remembered the advice I had given David before his custody case.
"You must be honest," Roy agreed. "However, you will be considered an adult now and the judge may give the attorney more leeway in his questioning than if you were a minor. Bruce said that a judge has not been assigned to hear the case. Therefore, we have to prepare for the worst-case scenario."
"I don't know if this is even worth it," I said.
"Now you listen to me," Roy almost yelled. "I've been reading your journal and I get angry at your parents when I read it. People like that need to pay. Besides, you supported yourself for two years that they had the responsibility for."
Roy and I spent the next three hours going over my journal. He would ask me question that would piss me off some, and then I would get angry. "That's the types of things an attorney might ask," Roy explained. "Just keep your cool and don't let him get under your skin."
The following week was senior week, and Mason and I both were exempt from final exams because of our good grades. "I need the two of you to work fulltime this week," Steve said to Mason and me. "A date has been set for Jeff's case and in Chicago and we need to get a lot of things done before then."
"When will that be?" I asked as I tried to control my emotions. Roy had tried to assure me that there was nothing to worry about; nevertheless I was still apprehensive about facing my parents in court.
"It will be June fourteenth, but we will go to Chicago the eleventh," Steve said. A wide grin then developed on Steve's face and he said, "I have a little surprise for the two of you as a graduation gift from the firm. We have rented a cabin on Grand Lake over in Oklahoma for a week. Both of you have done a great job for us and it is our gift to you."
"Wow!" Mason exclaimed. "Would you let us take the boat?"
"What would a week on the lake be without a boat?" Steve asked, but not expecting an answer. "Just promise you'll always have a lifejacket on when out on the water and there will no drinking when you take the boat out."
"Are you kidding?" Mason laughed. "I'll have Mr. Perfect here with me."
I gave Mason a playful hit on the arm and he grabbed his arm, pretended that it hurt and said, "Ouch that hurt."
"You wuss," I said with a laugh.
"I'll show you my wuss when we get to the lake," Mason countered.
"Alright, knock it off," Steve intervened. "Mason, I need you to deliver some paperwork down to Fort Smith, and Jeff you may as well work on your speech."
"That may be a waste of time," I said.
"Is it not going well?" Steve asked.
"I can't think of a topic," I said.
"You're the topic," Steve said. "Just look at what you've accomplished."
"Then it would sound like I'm full of myself," I argued.
"Not necessarily," Steve said. "Besides, if it's a fact you're not bragging."
"I guess I'll think of something," I said.
I was printing my speech when Mason returned from his trip to Fort Smith. "How is it going with your speech?" He asked.
"I'm going with what I have, good or bad," I said.
"I know it's good," Mason assured me. "Let me read it?"
"No, you can't read it," I said.
"Come on, why not?" Mason begged.
"Because you've already said you knew it was good," I said. "You wouldn't say it was bad if it was. You'll just have to wait and hear it when I give it."
"Next Friday is graduation, and I don't think I can wait that long," Mason said.
"Maybe we can think of something to distract you until then," I said.
"Just what did you have in mind?" Mason asked know full well what I had in mind.
"Go home and get a change of clothes and spend the night at my place, and then I'll show you," I said. I was still surprised that Mason didn't seem to mind that my place was a tiny travel trailer.
"We're leaving now," Mason said to his father as we passed his office. "I'm spending the night at Jeff's place."
"Okay, guys," Steve said. "Jeff, tell George that Susan and I are giving a graduation dinner for you guys and he is invited. I'll pick him up when I leave the office. You two have the day off." I was pleased that my boyfriend's parents treated my unofficial adopted grandfather as my real grandfather.
Mason went home to get his clothes and I stopped at the store and bought some steaks to grill. I planned to invite George to eat with us. After doing my shopping I stopped by to invite George to dinner. "I'll just find something here to eat," George said. "You know what they say about three being a crowd."
"Grandpa, you know that Mason enjoys your company as much as I do," I said. "Dinner will be ready in about an hour. We'll be expecting you."
George arrived at my trailer precisely one hour later. He was like that when it came to appointments. When Mason saw him, he stood and gave George a strong hug; a hug that I though might be too strong for George's frail body. However, George seemed to take pleasure in Mason's affection. It suddenly saddened me when I realized how much George had aged in the two short years that I had come to know and love him.
Mason and George both seemed to enjoy the dinner of steak, baked potato, and salad. After dinner we sat drinking coffee and enjoying each other's company. The conversation eventually came to my lawsuit against my parents.
"I can't wait until Jeff nails their asses for what they did to him," Mason said.
"It's not that important anymore," I said.
George had a puzzled looked on his face and asked, "Why not, Jeff?"
"I don't know," I confessed. "I guess it just doesn't seem right for a son to be suing his parents."
"Don't even think that," George said with a voice that seemed strong for him. "They did things to you that no real parent would do. I saw how frightened and confused you were when you arrived here. Mason told me some of the horrible things that were in that journal of yours."
I gave Mason a surprised look. The look was not because I wanted to keep something from George, but it was because I was surprised at how close Mason and George had become. I patted my lover's hand to let him know that it was okay that he shared it with George. I was with the two men that I loved, my boyfriend and my adopted grandpa.
"Until I came here I didn't know what it was like to go to bed at night and not worry about someone dragging my ass out of bed and beating the crap out of me," I said. "The only place I felt safe there was in school or when I hid in my hollow tree."
"That's what I mean when I said they need to be punished for what they did to you," George said. "I would love to be there when the judge puts that screw in their asses and turns it."
"Come to Chicago with us and you can see that," Mason said while still laughing at George.
"Oh, I couldn't do that," George said. "I'd just be in the way. Besides, I should stay here and watch over the trailer park."
"Grandpa, Mrs. Rodriguez could watch things for you," I offered. "I'd love to have you there. We're flying up in Roy's airplane and staying with his friend Bruce while there. He said Bruce has a huge house."
"Yeah, Grandpa, please come with us," Mason said. I think that statement caught both George and me off guard. He had never called him grandpa before. The smile George gave him told me that he approved.
"Okay, I'll go providing Rita will agree to take care of things here," George said. "I'll give her a free month's rent for doing that. When do we go? How long will we be gone?"
"The eleventh," I said. "Roy said that we would be there about a week or two."
"I'm not real keen on going on an airplane," George said. "It will be worth it to see your parents shit their pants. Boys, I think I'll leave you two yourselves and go to bed."
"Good night, Grandpa," Mason and I said simultaneously.
"Good night, Boys," George said. His smile told me that he had enjoyed himself.
"Did you tell him?" Mason asked.
"Tell him what?"
"Tell him about the graduation dinner."
"Oh yeah, I forgot," I confessed. "Grandpa, Mason's parents want you to come to a graduation dinner they're giving for Mason and me. It will be Friday, and Steve will pick you up on his way home from work."
"I wouldn't miss it for the world," George said.
"Jeff and I are going to spend next week in a cabin on Grand Lake, do you want to come with us?" Mason asked.
"Thank you, Mason," George smile. "But, I would just be an old geezer in the way. Go and enjoy your week on the lake."
Mason helped me clean up the kitchen and then he began to herd me toward the bed. "Hold on, Horny," I laughed. "I need to piss first."
"Okay, I'll hold onto it while you piss."
Almost before I could shake the last drop off the end of my cock, Mason had me in my tiny trailer bedroom and my shirt off. We managed to get each other undress. Mason's cock was standing proud from his thick patch of pubic hair. His cock was glistening with pre-cum and I could feel his wetness when he pulled me against him.
Mason turned to take my hard cock into his mouth and at the same time turned himself to invite me to take his in my mouth. I gladly obliged and could taste his pre-cum as soon as I wrapped my lips around it. Soon we were both moaning with our mouths full of cock. Suddenly I could hold back no long and I shot a copious load of cum into his mouth. Soon he was returning the favor to me.
Mason crawled into my arms and we kissed passionately. I could taste my cum when my tongue entered his mouth. We then held each other close in a feeling of contentment.
I awoke with slivers of light coming around the edge of the mini-blind. Mason has his arm over my shoulder with his hand resting on my right nipple as if to protect it. I brought his hand to my mouth and kissed before prying myself from under his arm. I made my way to the bathroom for a piss before washing my hands and face and then started the coffee maker.
Mason seemed to have phenomenal timing as he was in the kitchen kissing my neck just as the coffee finished brewing. "What's for breakfast?" Mason asked as he began to sip his coffee before it was actually cool enough to drink.
"You're drinking it," I teased.
"Fuck that," he said. "I'll go to McDonalds and get something. I can't believe you're not going to feed me."
"Hey, I fed you last night," I joked.
"And it was a mouthful," he laughed.
"Okay, settle down big boy," I said. "I'm making pancakes and bacon for breakfast."
"I would like a big sausage," Mason laughed while grabbing my cock through the front of my robe. "I'd say this one is a full meal."
"Looks like you have the buns there that are just right for it," I joined in on the sexual innuendos. "Now sit those nice buns down and eat your breakfast."
"What's on your agenda for today?" Mason asked as if to relieve the sexual tension.
"I want to finish up my speech today," I said. "I know that I won't get anything done with it when we go to the lake."
"While you're working on that, I think I'll get the boat ready," Mason said. "This is going to be so much fun. I'll be here in the morning with the boat at about nine."
As soon as Mason left I cleaned the kitchen, washed the breakfast dishes and then began working on my speech. I struggled with what to say and then Steve's words came to mind, "You're the topic, just look at what you've accomplished." I began writing and then accepted what I had written.
After completing my speech, I did my laundry and began to pack a bag to take to the lake. When I had finished I was exhausted, more of a mental exhaustion than a physical one. Nevertheless, I was exhausted. I went to bed expecting to be awake most of the night with my mind thinking of graduation and then the trip to Chicago. I woke the next morning Mason kissing me. "Get up sleepyhead," he said. "It's time to head to the lake."
I got out of bed and went to take a shower while Mason went to the kitchen to make coffee. He knows I'm worthless without my morning coffee. When I came out of the bathroom drying myself, Mason handed me a cup of coffee. His eyes were on my cock and I'm surprised he didn't spill my coffee on me. Mason had cereal and toast ready for our breakfast. I was glad he didn't try to cook breakfast.
The lakefront cabin was beautiful and was just a few miles outside of Grove, Oklahoma. I was furnished comfortably in a rustic, yet comfortable style. There was even a hot tub on the back deck that overlooked the lake. After launching the boat and then securing it to the dock, we drove into Grove for some grocery shopping. Grove was nice decent size town right on the lake. "Hey, there's a casino," I said in surprise as we explored the town. "I didn't know they had casinos here."
"They're all over Oklahoma," Mason said. "They're owned by different Indian tribes. Let's go inside."
"What, and give them our money?" I argued. "We may as well just toss it out the window now."
"Come on," Mason pleaded with his puppy dog eyes. "We can agree before we go in on how much we can spend."
"Okay, twenty dollars each and then we're out of there," I said.
"Forty?" He pleaded again. I couldn't say no to those puppy dog eyes.
The inside of the casino looked like a miniature version of one of the Las Vegas casinos. This included an adequate quantity of one armed bandits. We knew we weren't skilled enough o try the poker or blackjack tables and we quickly decided to hand our money over to the bandits.
Mason and I sat on the stools at the slot machines next to each other. Each of us would win a few dollars and then quickly watch the bandits take it away. Mason began to roam the room trying different machines, with the same luck. I decided to stick with the bandit that I knew. Approximately an hour later Mason came back and announced that he was broke, but wanted to try another twenty dollars. "No, we agreed before we came in," I argued.
"How much do you have left?" Mason asked. It was obvious that he wanted to go if he couldn't gamble more.
"Almost eight dollars," I said. "But, I'm ready if you are." I gave the machine another fifty cents and prepared to leave.
The machine began to flash and ding and I heard Mason yell, "You won a big jackpot."
Other gamblers began to gather around me with words of congratulations. I pushed the cash out button and headed for the tellers cage. I still didn't know how much I had won until the teller asked if I wanted cash or a check. I selected a check and was shocked to see that I had won just over six thousand dollars, after taxes had been deducted.
"What are you buying with all that money?" Mason asked with excitement as we left the casino.
"Who said I have to buy anything?" I asked. I knew I wasn't like Mason and didn't grow up with the security he did.
"It's like manna from heaven," Mason said. "You have to spend it on something you've always wanted."
"I have you," I said. "That's all I want or need."
"Aw, how sweet," Mason said with a bit of embarrassment even though we were alone. "But, you don't always have to be so practical. Now don't give me that shit about how you've grown up. That's your past."
"Let's forget it for now and enjoy our five days here on the lake," I said.
Mason reached over and put his hand on my knee as we drove down the street to find a grocery store. I knew that it was his way of say that he was trying to understand me. I gave him an appreciative smile because I sometimes wondered if I understood my own self.
The five days on the lake were wonderful. It was that time of the year when the Ozarks were transforming from spring into the summer season. The lake water temperature was lagging behind the air temperature at this time of the year. That didn't stop Mason and me from skinny dipping in the moonlight. When our ball had retreated as far up against our bodies as they could we would run naked to the hot tub. Soon our balls and cocks were reacting to the warmth of the hot tub and the closeness of each other.
My hand found its way under the water to his enlarging cock like a homing pigeon finding its way home. His hand seemed to have the same homing aspiration as mine. When we were ready to explode we would make our way to the bed and make love and then fall asleep in each other's arms.
The time passed quickly and it was Friday morning and time to go home for our graduation. We were busy the remainder of the day doing those things one does on graduation day that I didn't have time to think about my speech. As promised, Steve picked up George and brought him to our graduation dinner. In the excitement and nervousness of the event, I'm not sure Mason or I realized that we were eating perfectly cooked prime ribs. I do recall that the dinner was delicious. Even George ate more than he usually did.
As hundreds of us graduates lined up in our identical caps and gowns, Mason asked, "Are you nervous?"
"I suppose I should be, but I'm not," I calmly answered as "Pomp and Circumstance" began to play. I, along with the salutatorians, was to sit with the school officials and the commencement speaker on the podium. The speaker was the obligatory politician that none of the students cared to hear, but was selected by school administrators.
The welcome and the commencement address seemed to take much longer than it really was. By the time it was time for my address I was virtually caught off guard when I was introduced. I surprised myself that even now I wasn't nervous.
I began my speech with, "Principal Justice, Board Members, Faculty members, family, friends and fellow graduates, today is a day that we have looked toward."
"First we have much to be thankful for. Here at Fayetteville High School we have received a great education thanks to our fine administration and teachers. We are prepared to move on and to take on whatever challenges come next in our lives."
"Fellow graduates; I want you to know what a great gift being as prepared as we are is because that cannot be said for all schools. Here we have had a high degree of academic excellence and whether you intend to continue your education or not, you will benefit from what you learned here."
"We can also be thankful for our families. When I say families, I'm not necessarily speaking of only those people that gave you life, but also of those that gave you something to live for. I came to Fayetteville High School two years ago as a runaway. I came here from the Chicago, Illinois area to get away from abusive parents. Many of you may have thought I was antisocial. I supposed I was. I found a gentleman that I adopted as my grandfather. This man, George Day, treated me as his grandson. I couldn't love him more than a biological grandparent." I paused long enough to survey the audience and saw that there was strangeness about the audience. Everybody was paying attention to me, and George was sitting with a look of pride.
I continued my speech, "I found a best friend, Mason Box. Mason and his parents have treated me as a family member. I'm sorry that I didn't trust others enough to tell you my story until now. You may wonder why I chose this time to tell you. I tell you this now because it is time for a new beginning. We each began a new phase in our lives. Today we are teenagers making teenage decisions. Tomorrow we are teenagers making adult decisions."
"My challenge to each of you is to make wise decisions. We can be the generation that makes a difference in this world. Individually we can make a small difference, but together we can make a large difference. It isn't likely that our generation can eliminate bigotry, child abuse, discrimination, and all of those things that we need to change to make this world better. Nonetheless, we must each do what we can. To quote Helen Keller: Many persons have the wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose."
"Let's never turn our backs on those that need our help. Let's learn to accept those that are different that we are. Individually let's strive to make a difference in the word and collectively make a large difference."
"Finally, we can be thankful for each other. The friendships that we have made here will last a lifetime and in the same way we have helped each other to, in some ways survive these four years here and in other ways succeed in these years at Fayetteville High School, I hope we will continue to be there for each other and to support each other in future endeavors."
"When you leave here today, celebrate what you have accomplished but look forward with an eye toward how you too can be the inspiration for other. When we all gather here for future class reunions let's be able to say look what we have accomplished to make this world better. Let's not come back and say look what I have accomplished to make me appear better."
"Congratulations fellow graduates!
There was a strange silence within the audience. Then a single applause began, this was followed by a blaring applause. The graduates began to stand, prompting the entire audience to stand. When the applause quieted, Senator Baker pulled me toward the lectern and said, "I'm embarrassed by this young man." This set off a chatter among the graduates and audience. Senator Baker continued. "I'm embarrassed that his address was about what you graduates can do to make a difference. Mine, on the other hand, was about what I did. That embarrasses me that he at his young age has shown more wisdom than I have. He is right; you collectively can make a difference."
Again the audience burst in another round of loud applause.
Following the graduation ceremony, many shook my hand, patted me on the back, or smiled to say they liked my address. But, "my family" most of all seemed pleased.
"When we arrived back at Mason's house I expected a quick goodbye and then I'd drive George home and go to bed just like any other night. However, Susan and Steve had planned a little reception for Mason and me. I never realized how many relatives Mason had until people began to arrive. There were both sets of grandparents as well as aunts, uncles and numerous cousins from Little Rock, Fort Smith, Tulsa, and places in Arkansas that I'd never heard of.
Almost all made a point to mention how much they liked my address. None seemed to care that Mason and I were obviously boyfriends. I was surprised with the gifts. I had never expected gifts. Mason's parents gave Mason and me each $1,000, but the real surprise was that George did the same. "Grandpa, this is too much" I protested. "You need your money."
"A grandpa can give his grandsons money if he wants," George countered. "What money I have, I'll never spend it all. I want you two to have this."
I could see that there was no arguing with George about this and Mason and I gave him a hug and said, "Thank you, Grandpa."