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OBLIGATORY LEGAL NONSENSEYou know that this is gay fiction, erotic (not so much in this chapter), but who knows, and we’ll pretend you don’t know, so…. It may be unlawful for you to read this if your weenie is too small, or if you are too young, or you are from a particularly unaccepting or intolerant country. Neither the author(s) nor Nifty can take any responsibility for any decisions you make to ignore those laws — or this warning. You’re going to read it anyway. Aren’t you?Enjoy!

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A Special Holiday Chapter for Jeremy”s Fans

From Your Chillicothe Special Correspondent

Philip Marks

gayadult49 at dot com

Chapter 60

Thanksgiving With The Gates”

 

 

Theo 3

 

Mill Street, Chillicothe Ohio

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

2:32 pm Eastern Standard Time

 

The gray Subaru station wagon could use a good wash, the sides are streaked with mud though a light rain has cleared a bit of the roof and hood; it stops only a minute to let the heavily pregnant girl out; she pulls her roll-aboard out from the back seat, waves a kiss to the girl behind the wheel and the car is off, its Washington plates nearly obscured.

 

The trip in from the big motorway has mostly passed clean modest older homes with neat lawns even if they are not green, the tall trees barren; the last few blocks have been better ones; she has never heard the term Craftsman for a house, but she groks the style immediately from a dozen examples they”ve passed.

 

Looking at the house critically, the girl notes the well painted and meticulously clean front. Every window gleams, not a spot anywhere. The first story is light gray clapboards and white trim, the upper story all white. The wraparound porch with white railing, wide, painted, darker gray floorboards, the white tapering columns running to the roof perched two by two atop brick pillars firmly rooted to the ground. She did not grow up with wealth but she has gained a working knowledge of the moneyed classes. She knows wavy glass is old, and prized. She knows a house like this is no mansion but surely more than an average home in terms of wealth and taste. Chillicothe too is obviously less than wealthy.  

Maybe not posh but it”s no rubbish tip neither, not like that hole I grew up in… she thinks with considerable satisfaction this home looks nicer than any she has lived in, and bigger to boot.

 

A harvest wreath decorates the front door eclipsing the upper lights, and coach lanterns have been set at the head of the stairs to the broad porch with unlit candles in them.

 

Well, they rolled out the red carpet for som”un. Don”t reckon it”s me. This will be a wee surprise.

 

Unbothered by the light sprinkling of rain, she waddles awkwardly up the wide walkway to the stairs, dragging the suitcase behind. Across the broad porch she leans heavily against the door for a moment one hand on her aching back. The thirty-six hour drive from Seattle has taken its toll, This country is damn big. She is pleased that the Ridin” app found her a direct and companionable rideshare, and her costs were limited to petrol shares and her own food. It went smoother than she expected. This was her first foray into driving on the right and the longest time in an auto she could ever remember. To be honest she doesn”t really have a lot of driving experience anyway. The night driving at first was a bit scary and she”s not easily intimidated.

 

Ignoring the bell push she raps her knuckles on the white door frame to the side of the antique beveled-glass-fronted door: loudly.

 

In a moment a pretty, prematurely graying Remy Gates opens the door. Remy takes a moment, and then the face has a name, “Sophie?”

 

“Ah good to see ya again, Remy, did I surprise ya?” she says in her broad Kiwi accent.

 

“Ah….why, yes you did, dear. Oh my goodness… ah, come in, please, you look like you need to sit down.” Remy does not fail to notice the luggage. Clearly Sophie is planning a stay. At first she”s not sure how she feels about this, things could get awkward.

 

“Wouldn”t mind, that”s sure.”

 

Remy enters the hallway, calls her husband, “Greyson,” then with more urgency, “Grey!” She shows the expecting-unexpected girl to the front parlor, “In here, dear, just leave your bag in the foyer.”

 

“Here sit down,” she leads Sophie to a comfortable wing chair near the cheerful fireplace but facing the center of the room. “Let me get you something to drink. Water?”

 

“I can”t say no. I”ll need to pee soon too, seems like I always need to pee.”

 

“There”s a powder room off the front hall when you”re ready, hun. I remember what it was like when I was carrying Jeremy.”

 

Greyson and Remy exchange questioning looks as they pass in the double doorway.

 

“Well, Sophie, gosh we haven”t seen you in a long time,” he is struggling a little to think why she could be here, and not a little surprised with her condition. “This is a pleasant surprise.” He hopes he”s right about that.

 

“Nice of you to say Grey, I”m sure it”s not all joy. You”re wondering why on god”s earth I”m this far from the water. And lugging that bag with me too.”

“Oh well, it”s still a pleasure. We haven”t forgotten how you helped Jeremy.”

 

Remy comes in with a bottle of Perrier, a glass with ice and a slice of lemon.

 

“Oh my fancy, miss, for little me!”

 

Remy sits in the matching chair opposite and decides to take things head on. “Sophie do you have someplace to be for Thanksgiving?”

 

“Oh? I hear that”s a big thing in America? Is it soon?”

 

“Well, it”s tomorrow. Um,” looking at the woman”s swollen belly, “You look about due to deliver, hun, what on earth are you doing traveling?”

 

“Tomorrow, nah if I”d known I”d of brung a plate. No, not gonna drop this for at least a week. I”ll be well out of your hair. Truth is, I was hoping I could camp here a little bit, just a day or two, I need to talk to you both about something. And to be honest I am a bit knackered.” She outlines her belly with her hands. “But if it”s a bother, I”ll get a room. I”m flush.”

Of course she knows Thanksgiving is tomorrow, she just drove across the country with a girl headed home to family for the holiday. But she really doesn”t know much about it beyond a big deal, lots of turkey, very family. Something she”d as soon miss under other circumstances.

 

Exchanging glances, Remy gets an almost amused shrug from Greyson.

 

“If you”ve never had an American Thanksgiving you must stay,” says Remy, finally on firm ground as a hostess; her motherly side to the fore. “You”ll have to sleep in Jeremy”s room, I”m afraid, Grey”s parents are coming tomorrow for the weekend otherwise you could use the guest room.”

“Great, that”ll be a kick, being in Jem”s room. I promise I won”t be a bit of a bother. Oh you don”t need to have me push in on your special day, I”ll just stay in the room.”

 

“No don”t be silly, we will want you to be there, see a real Thanksgiving, it”ll be a treat to have you. Grey can take your bag up and we”ll show you the room later, are you hungry?”

 

“Not a bit, ate just before we got to Chillicothe, down the Wendy”s I think it was; good burger, that.”

 

“Well then,” Grey said, “it”s been quite some time since we saw you in San Diego, where have you been, what have you been up to?”

 

Sophie looks at Grey directly.

 

“Man, why don”t you sit down. But first, why don”t you get yourself a drink while we talk? And one for the wifey. And what I”ve been up to,” she laughs, looks at her belly, “You can see for yourself what I”m up to! Bit of careless this was… been sailing about, went to Peru, Santiago Island, Easter Island, Chile, mostly, good fun that. And for a while, “til a few weeks ago I was waitressing in San Francisco.”

 

AsGreyson walks toward the kitchen he hears Sophie call out, “Have a strong one, Dad.”

 

Thinking that it”s not a bad idea, he pours a stiff bourbon and coke, a white wine for Remy, and carries them into the parlor, then he sits on the Chesterfield across from the gravid young woman.

 

“Ah, that should hit the spot. Let”s toast Jeremy! Bottoms up!”

 

Grey takes a fair sized sip and Remy a more modest one.

 

“So when I last saw you I wasn”t all this,” she says, gesturing at her belly. “Quite the surprise for us both, eh?”

 

“How far along are you?”

 

“Reckon it”s been nine month near enough. Another week or ten days should cook her.”

 

Suddenly a connection is made in her brain; it dawns on Remy what this visit is about. Her eyes go wide. Grey has not picked it up. It begins tongue-tied, “Sophie! Are you — is — I, I mean, did –- J — ,”  then she is speechless.

 

“Oh well yeah, I didn”t know cebeci escort it then, it only happened the day before I met you, just after I met him. Hardly knew him an hour. But yeah, it”s your granddaughter. Her name is Sky.”

 

Greyson”s glass hits the hardwood floor, ice and bourbon go flying.

 

This is going to be one hell of a Thanksgiving.

 

That evening Sophie surveys Jeremy”s room with some satisfaction.

 

The bed was a platform twin but with a wraparound bookcase on two sides, the shelves loaded with books and models and baseball gear she couldn”t identify. It”s no chilly bin, she thinks, not what a gal in her twenties is looking for but the bed is bigger than most berths I”ve had. If they had put the boy up like this when he was, what maybe twelve, thirteen? she knew, Sky, she”d be right.

 

Sophie had watched some baseball on TV once or twice but the game mystified her. She knew those were called hardballs, well named. Christ they”d conk your noggin right good. Best dodge them. The barred mask drew an amused laugh. A glove was obvious but still exotic.

 

Above the head of the bed was a large lighted “J” in orange she found enchanting.

 

The various trophies on the side wall shelves were amusing; the row of swimming medals suspended on their ribbons from the crown molding had captured her attention earlier though she didn”t really understand them. She was especially taken when she found the vertically arranged row of framed portraits on the wall by the desk opposite. Jeremy every couple of years since he was a toddler. Struth the lad has always been a looker. Such smiles too. Those eyes!

 

The reading light was on as she worked slowly on her knitting. This baby was going to have booties from her mum if it killed her. And it might.

 

Been a good time Sky, having you in me.  Little Love, you have no idea how much people will tip you when you”ve got a bump on your belly! Made waitressing under the table work so much better. Thanks for that, daughter.

 

Daughter.

 

Still can”t quite grok it. But I promise you a good shot at a good life, you won”t have to fight for every day like I have. Not that it”s all bad. Get something done you feel pretty amazing. A day on the water is still a wonder.

 

Her feelings of warmth and love are magnified in this room, it speaks of those qualities.

 

Wonder if Jem feels that way. Is he thinking it”s better those bastards grabbed him? Nah. Not that, nevah that. But gotta wonder how his life would be if it didn”t happen. No Sky for one thing… he”d not have been a live-aboard for another. No surprise land in Antigua.

 

I reckon he”d be the boy in this room. Gay boy”s room, can”t see a lot for it other than the OneD posters. You”d think he”d have Gaga. But no, baseball, swimming. High school I guess. He”d be your average American high-school boy, not a bad thing… but now he”s so much more.

 

A lot of pain there, but he”s a strong one, he”s had to be.

 

Sophie notes there are nice curtains and wood blinds for the windows, not bare cheap plastic blinds or windows with sheets hung over them. Wood floors with nice thick rugs all over keeping them warm and quiet.

 

So warm and quiet this whole place!

 

Sophie reviews her progress with the Gateses, and congratulates herself on how she”s handled it so far. She has decided to unveil her plans in stages, and stage one has been a rousing success. They haven”t had the other shoe drop but they took the first one pretty good. She has a place to stay for the weekend and is pretty certain that will turn into a longer offer.

 

Sophie pauses her knitting and listens to the house. If Grey and Remy were arguing over her, she couldn”t hear it. Never remember this kind of quiet anyplace Saffron dragged me, never. This was the kind of quiet you might get on a still night at sea. As quiet as it was that still morning in the Galapagos when the sea lay flat like a hammered silver mirror. And alone. It was perhaps as quiet as she could ever remember her world being.

 

The only sound is gentle rain against the windows. It soon lulls her to sleep.

 

 

Thanksgiving Day

November 22 – 6:00 a.m.

 

Sophie, indeed knackered from the trip, sleeps late. Remy is up early. Well to be honest she has hardly slept, but she is always up early on Thanksgiving day. There are the pies, and with the leftover crust, her signature cinnamon rolls. Remy moves on to the stuffing, then stuffs and trusses the turkey. Everything in its turn; the sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberries, green beans, and all the rest have to be prepped.

She”s peeling and quartering the potatoes and dropping them into a bowl of salted water so they won”t brown when Grey comes into the kitchen. He pecks her on the cheek.

 

“Up for some talk while you work?” He picks up the peeler and takes over as Remy starts on the celery stalks.

 

“Sure. What are we going to tell Herb and Mary?”

 

“Yeah, been thinking about that too. Dad”s going to have a stroke.” His speech is brisk. He is girding himself for the battle to come.

 

“I”ve been thinking, Grey. We can”t let Sophie go, that baby has to have a place to be born. Oh, and — and I want to see her when she comes. Our own grandchild.” Her voice is wistful. They had always wanted to give Jeremy a sibling, but her mom”s long cancer interfered, and then it seemed Jem had grown too old. But sometimes in the stores she”d see a baby and get that wistful feeling. I’m only thirty-eight after all.

 

“Way ahead of you there Rem, way ahead. We”re pretty young for grandparents aren”t we? The boy has pulled quite the fast one on us. Wait “til Jem hears. I”d give a pretty penny to see his face. Maybe we can get him to FaceTime when we do it.” He flashes her that grin, the one that made her fall in love in the first place.

 

“More to the point, wait til Herb hears.”

Herbert and Mary Gates started their trek from Lakewood, by Lake Erie, about ten am. They pull up in front of the house in Chillicothe just a bit past two. Jeremy Gates’ grandparents made good time in their Audi; traffic is light today of course.

Grey and Remy have been keeping an eye and an ear out for them from the front room.  Sophie is sipping (alcohol-free) sparkling apple cider. Remy and Grey fortify themselves with something a little stronger. “Oh boy, they’re here,” Greyson comments from the front window.

 

The pair surround Greyson”s parents nervously, they usher them into the front hall with familiar greetings, and as they enter the front room, “Mom, dad, we have an unexpected visitor from New Zealand. Her name is Sophie.”

 

 Mary says, “Oh my dear, please do stay seated, I remember how hard it is to get up in your condition.”

 

Sophie in her chair makes no attempt to try. “Oi, thanks, I”m Sophie Wright, and yeah, I”m a Wright beached whale at the moment.” She laughs a hearty sparkling, Herbert finds rather grating.

 

“Well my dear, you are very welcome, it”s an honor to have a New Zealander with us for Thanksgiving,” Mary responds.

 

“Right; you”re Mary, I reckon, and I”m the Kiwi.”

“I”m sorry?” Mary is puzzled by the accent, the informality of the young woman but a little charmed all the same, “Kiwi is your name? I thought it was Sophie.”

 

“I say we”re called Kiwis, nothing formal like New-Zea-lan-der.” emphasizing each syllable.

“Oh my, how charming!”

 

“Damn right! That”s Kiwis, charm the pants right off ya if ya let us. Best be careful.” Sophie”s also hoping that”s true.

 

“Sit down, why don”t you have a drink; white wine for you, mother?” Remy suggests.

 

“Yes, please.”

 

“Scotch and soda son, you know how I like it.”

 

“Have a strong one, Dad,” Grey says under his breath, walking away.

 

Shortly, all have drinks in hand, “A toast…” says Remy.

 

“What shall we toast?” asks Mary.

 

“It”s Thanksgiving after all. Let”s give thanks for God”s unexpected gifts.”

 

They all drink, Herbert being who he is, appreciates the religious sentiment. Greyson quickly refills his father”s glass.

 

“And another, to family and friends, present and absent,” says Greyson. Herbert scowls a little at the veiled reference to his troubled grandson, a message not lost on Greyson.

 

Sophie has her sparkling cider and, well, being Sophie, soon offers the next toast. “I don”t know about Thanksgiving, not an American, but this part I understand. Let”s hoist another, here”s to Sky! SKULL!!” She raises and drains her glass as Remy and Greyson blanch.

Herbert says, “To the sky? Skull?”

 

Sophie refills her glass, letting the question float, unanswered.

“Dad, drink up. Don”t be rude,” whispers his son. Herb frowns. Mary has a slightly queasy feeling. She can”t quite put her finger on it. She sips her wine hesitantly. Something seems off, this second Thanksgiving without Jeremy home.

 

Grey çeşme escort and Remy artfully divert the discussion, while Herbert is given a third scotch and soda. This one is rather stronger than the others, but Herb is comfortably numb from the first two and doesn”t notice. When he has a fourth in hand, Herb begins thinking this gathering is rather more fun than he had expected. The pregnant girl does not seem as loud and annoying as he had first thought … he thinks the fire crackling in the parlor fireplace is especially cheery. The holiday feeling is strong.

 

“Now then, about Sky….that”s a little complicated Mom, Dad.” Greyson’s words bring Herb back from his contemplation of the fire.

 

“Sophie, as you see, is carrying Sky.” Remy interjects.

 

“Yes?” Herbert says uncomfortably; disapprovingly “Do I assume Sophie has no husband?”

 

“Dad, Sophie”s our guest.”

 

“Assume, hell Herb, to get where I am you only need a man for a minute, no husband required. And, Greyson, I reckon Sky makes us all whanau anyway, don”t she?” Sophie is nervous, brazen.

 

Herbert realizes something isn”t being said. But for the life of him he cannot quite figure out what isn”t being said. Herbert isn”t the only one who has had a little more than he should to drink, and a normally very sober Grey decides this is the moment to go out with it.

 

“I hope you”ll be warm and welcoming to both Sophie and Sky, mom and dad,” he pauses then in for a penny, in for a pound, plunges ahead, “because Sky is your great-granddaughter.”

 

There is a moment of silence as this grenade lands in the middle of the group and sits, the fuse sputtering down to the explosion.

 

“What did you say!? Are you adopting this child?” Herbert really has had too much to drink, granddaughter came across, great is missing in action.

 

“Naw, Herb, not a bit of it. He said this wee bump here is your grandson”s doing, love! And we should drink to the nipper. Here”s to Jeremy!” She lifts her glass and tosses back a generous swallow; no one else drinks.

 

“Are, are…” Herbert blusters and looks at Greyson, “Are you sure about this?” He is incredulous, too poleaxed to really respond, and too drunk as well. “Is she quite sure about it?”

 

“Well, we only had the one night together, but I”m sure, Herb,” Sophie replies with sweet malice. She has met Herbert”s sort before, “He”s a fast worker, that boy of yours, only took him an hour to get me in the sack.” Just a sober pause at the memory of San Diego, “Christ, the kid was a wreck. Surprised he could even get it up,” then Sophie rebounds, “but he was a right little tiger once he did.”

“Please young lady, I am a Methodist Lay Minister, spare us profanity.”

“Christ I”m so sorry. Herb. Ah! Shouldn”t-a said that should I?” she covers her mouth in mock shock at her own profanity. “Lay minister? Oh, you are? Never heard of that, what do you lay, Herbert? Anyway, yeah your gay grandson knocked me up an hour after we met. He needed someone to hold him, right shook he was, he just held on very hard. Very hard, he was. Couldn”t pry us apart. I took proper care of that boy and he was ka pai. So no worries about Sky, she”ll be right. Right as rain.”

Grey rolls his eyes, lowers his gaze to his lap; Herbert”s eyes bug out of his head. “Young woman are you suggesting you deserve some sort of credit for becoming pregnant by my fourteen-year-old grandson?”

 

“Oh yah nah, Herb, what kind of gal would I be to do that? I mean you say fourteen, actually I think he was fifteen, but no matter, no one deserves credit; it don”t take more than a stiff breeze to get a lad that age to squirt out enough for a baby. Sweet as. Am I right, Remy?”

 

 

An hour later, Remy and Sophie are seated at the rustic kitchen table, three empty bottles of wine and one of sparkling cider clutter the table. Mary is in the butler”s pantry taking a generous, shuddering, swig from an open bottle; as she approaches the doorway to the kitchen she pauses and takes a second deep swig, then carefully rearranges her pearl necklace.

 

“Las” bottle of that nice Sauvignon Blanc Rem le”s try the rosé next,” says Mary, slurring her words. She tops up her crystal tumbler, and then Remy”s.

 

“Mary you”re not a bad sort why d”ya ever hitch up with a stick in the mud like Herbert?” inquires Sophie.

 

“Oh my dear, it would surprise you, he”s really much nicer once you get to know him. Quite charming in fact,” Mary giggles.

 

“Well it would surprise, that”s sure enough.”

 

“Now Sophie, do you at least have a boyfriend? Someone to help you with the baby? Family?” Mary asks.

 

“Oh I”m not the sort a fella wants to tie his kite to, maybe some day.” She dodges the family question but knows it”s bound to resurface, and soon. “No, it”s the water for me, that”s the only place I ever feel at home.” Until last night, she thinks. Maybe too quiet. Might get tired of that. The world has to move for Sophie Wright, like the water under her keel.

 

Still, things are going well in this part of the house.

 

But they are not going so well in the parlor, where the main topics of discussion are Grey”s failings as a father and Jeremy”s as a son.

 

“Why on earth is that boy running around the Caribbean unsupervised. He”s fifteen. He”s got a girl pregnant. If he did. You”d better get a DNA test on that, who knows how many men that, that girl, has been with! And you”re still telling me despite this he”s gay? How many more are there going to be? And you tell me he killed a man?”

“Dad you must not say anything more about the man he shot. He died in a fire, not from being shot. Jeremy did not kill him. And if he shot him it was purely in self-defense, Dad. Surely you understand that. We can”t take the chance that Jeremy might still be brought up on charges. I won”t risk it. Nothing happened in San Diego,” Greyson gives his father a sharp look. “Say nothing more about that. He isn”t coming back until the time is right.”

 

“The time is right? But you”re letting him just run loose after all this? Are you both insane? The boy needs to be here, and in school. He”s fifteen!”

 

“Well Dad we want him here, of course we do. But we think he needs more time to work things through, time to recover on his own. He”s suffering, dad. I”ve talked to two FBI psychiatrists who say he”s suffering from PTSD and survivor”s guilt, and more. We”re going to push him to get some help with all that.”

 

“It doesn”t matter if he does it there or here,” Greyson pauses, sadly, “I saw him there in Martinique. He is no longer the Jeremy we knew.” This last is quiet, wistful, regretful.

 

“That sounds like a bunch of bushwa Greyson! Shape up! The boy needs some discipline, not license to roam around being a beach bum! I can”t understand you, after everything I”ve taught you and you can”t control a fifteen-year-old boy!”

 

“And Dad you may not remember it, but no one can control a fifteen-year-old-boy who doesn”t want to be controlled, or at least who won”t let it happen. Anyway, he is not a beach bum, if you missed it, he has found three part-time jobs and is doing self-study working with a tutor from here in Ohio. Honestly, Dad, we”re so happy to have him alive and reasonably well. We aren”t going to push him, not now.”

This all sounds defensive and Greyson hates the way these conversations go with his father. Does Herb not realize that he and Remy ran these same thoughts into the ground themselves? “I, we, have decided to give him room; we”re afraid we could push him away. And if he wants to be on the run again, he might not talk to us at all. Six months, dad, it was six months of knowing nothing and not hearing from him. Would that be better? Do you want to hear again how many gay teens are alienated from their families and homeless?

 

“We have to accept that Jeremy is right when he tells us he can”t fit back into Chillicothe. My god, Dad, as if nothing happened! Just pop back into high school like any other kid. Your way of doing things, Father, is neither our way, nor what we think will work best for our son.

 

“I”ve told you this before, Dad, and I wish you would listen. Calling him fifteen is deceptive. This last year and a half – he”s been forced to grow up way too fast. He is not fourteen any more; nor fifteen. He is not the same. The boy who left on his bike that day will never return to us.” Greyson continues, almost in a whisper to himself, “Jeremy is not a fifteen-year-old boy, he is a wounded soldier not yet back from his war.”

 

“What is wrong with the way I raised you?! What are you trying to say, Greyson?”

 

“Nothing, Dad, in fact I”m trying very hard not to say some things!”

 

“That is it. I won”t stand for this. We”re not staying one instant more. We”ll go back to Lakewood. Mary! Mary! Get your things! We”re going!”

 

Greyson counts to himself very slowly while Herbert gets up and moves toward the hall looking for his coat. “You can”t go, Dad.”

“Who”s going cim cif yapan escort to stop me?”

 

“The Ohio State Patrol. You”re drunk and I”m calling them if you try to drive.”

 

“Mary! Mary! You”re driving!”

Mary enters the parlor. “No Herbert, I”m not able to drive. And it”s Thanksgiving Day we”re not going anywhere. We”re going to thresh this out and be thankful to God for our family. Together.”

 

“Say d”ya smell something burnin”, Remy?” says Sophie from the hallway.

 

“Oh my god, the turkey!”

 

The talking stops for dinner; the turkey isn”t as dry, nor as burned as Remy had feared, and the meal helps sop up a good bit of alcohol. Sophie is impressed by the spread, the unfamiliar foods and the ones she knows. She loves the mince pie, one of Remy”s specialties and recalls one of Sophie”s rare good memories of her grandmother Meadow”s Christmas table.

 

Over dinner a truce prevails and talk turns to news of absent family. Other topics are skirted carefully. Sophie in her inimitable way dominates the conversation.

 

“Remy ya have family? Jem didn”t say.” She”s lying, Sophie pumped Jeremy for family things while she was in California. But Jem did not know why she asked. This question to Remy is a search for confirmation.

 

“Yes, I”ve a younger sister in Florida and an older brother in the Air Force, he”s in Germany.”

 

“He”s a pilot then?”

 

She laughs, “No, Daniel is a nurse like our mom was. He”s been in almost twenty years. He”s got a wife, Sandra, they met in Britain when he was based there.”

“Any little ones?”

 

“No, sadly they don”t. I think they didn”t want to drag them all around the world, the way the military does. They talk of fostering when he retires.”

 

“What about that sister?” Alternatives are important.

 

“Anita”s a florist, she has her own shop in Coral Gables. And she has a boyfriend, Peter. He teaches at a community college there, I forget what.”

 

“Smart then is she?”

 

“Well she”s no slouch when it comes to brains, but really she”s a rock. She”ll call later today, she calls us every week since Jeremy was…taken.”

 

“They close, were they?”

“She dotes on him and Jem loves her, sure. He was really close to my mother before she died. What they had was special. Well really Sophie, tell us about your family, we know nothing.”

 

Just the way to keep it, Sophie thinks. “Ah, I will but I need to pee again.”

 

And as diversions go this works pretty well, and it happens, she does. Besides, she likes that it pisses Herb off to hear it: pee. She”d like to repeat the word a dozen times for reaction. She is tempted to describe her mother Saffron just for his reaction, but that might put off Grey and Remy. Sophie has to get away from the table for that piss. She envisions having Saffron and Herb at the table together. She wouldn”t be able to contain her laughter. That meeting would be epic.

 

Thanksgiving traditions have to be honored. Anita texts and Remy warns her off. She”ll call back Sunday. The men head to the TV room to watch the Lions” game and fall asleep from too much food. The women, two tipsy and one heavy, manage to make light work of the cleanup, and the time-honored women”s work helps the bonding process along. Well the next bottle of wine doesn”t hurt either.

 

They had wanted to call Jeremy on Thanksgiving but Remy insists he”s at sea. And it”s the wrong time. Too much going on. No way I am putting Jem on the phone with Herb in the midst of this even if I could. We need to think about how we tell him about Sky.

 

Later that evening the row starts up again until Sophie shuts it down for good.

 

“For cripes sake, your boy was abducted by serial killers then sold for a sex slave to some old fart he ended up nursing and driving for; held prisoner by some crazy fucking desert cult, and got away from that only to be dragged into a drug deal, raped, shot a fella, walked out alive and managed to end up with me. It took him less than a day to knock up a complete stranger, that”s the silver tongue he”s got. He survived even me and made a baby too!

“What more do you expect the lad to do, he does what he has to do to survive. He”s a survivor! And he”s a bloody good one too! You all don”t deserve him if you can”t see how special he is! Let him be!”

 

Herbert”s a prig, got a stick up his arse; mostly harmless I reckon; but the rest of them are right nice. Sky will fit in here. Lots of love. If they can hold it together after a day like today…we”ll be alright.

 

Chillicothe OH

Gates Residence

Friday, November 23, 2018

 

The next day Mary and Remy and Herb and Grey are all hung over. Breakfast is very quiet.

 

“What kind of a name is Sky anyway?” Herb is tentative, his head hurts but he”s actually trying to reach out a little. He is starting to realize this won”t go away.

 

“Sky is unbounded possibilities. Sky is freedom.” Sophie pauses, “Sky is where the rainbows live.” Her hippie grandmother would have appreciated that. She threw the last in for the irritation factor, Sophie”s not that soft herself but she can”t resist poking Herb.

 

Herb is not big on freedom. He wants to say, “Like shirking about in a boat instead of doing honest work?” but he keeps his mouth shut. He doesn”t even let his mind go to the idea of his little Jeremy … mounting … this woman. Like everyone else in the house, Herb wonders where his great-grandchild will end up. So far away, if she sails off with her. Herb is not a man given to emotional expressions but Mary is not wrong, he”s soft inside, at least he is if you soften him up, and he”s taken quite the tenderizing this Thanksgiving.

 

Chillicothe OH

Gates Residence

Saturday, November 24, 2018

 

Saturday dawned gray, cold, and a wet, light snow that didn”t stick. Herbert and Mary left by nine “to beat the storm” or maybe just to beat it. But they will be back; Christmas is around the corner.

 

It”s warm in the spacious country kitchen, the heart of this house, and all are gathered around the rustic table, a Victorian era relic. Remy thinks of this table, and this room, as her anchor in a roiling ocean; and despite the weather, the mood is light and more happy than Sophie had expected.

 

In fact this is the happiest she can remember being, aside from sailing somewhere. Outside, the storm finally does arrive; snow starts to swirl. Over the poached eggs on toast she is ready to drop the next shoe.

The Gateses have been talking in the night. Remy beats her to it. “Sophie, we”ve been wondering if you wouldn”t like to stay here a while longer with us. If you don”t have plans to be somewhere else.”

 

“Truth is I was hoping to stay and pop the nipper here; not to worry! I’ve got insurance and all, if it won”t put you out too much.”

 

The answer comes fast. “Yes that would be a good idea, Sophie. We can make you comfortable here. We”d like to be with you when Sky is born. We”d like to meet her,” a betraying catch in her voice, “very much.”

 

Being as her luck is on, Sophie figures it was time, in for a penny…

 

“See,” she tells them, her voice showing her stress, “it”s no good for Sky to have a kid for a father, and me for a mother, it would be such rubbish. I don”t want to be my mum all over again.”

 

Remy makes sympathetic sounds. She reaches over to rub her hand up and down Sophie”s arm, takes her hand in her own.

 

“Sky needs a proper home,”  Sophie’s voice drops as she looks down to her lap, “and proper parents, and I reckon it”s best that be you.”

 

Steps ahead, not sure how far Sophie was willing to go, Remy and Greyson hoped this was her plan. No room for a shipmate with a baby in her world, but it seems Sophie’s motivation is less selfish.

 

The Gateses enfold her.

 

Not such a bad deal this Thanksgiving thing, Sophie thinks as snow begins to blanket the world.

 

 

Phil”s Full Chapters at WordPress…

these will include some illustrations; and

revisions made after publication at Nifty.

 

Chapter 55 The Space Between Truth and Lie

https://gayadult49.wordpress/2020/10/15/fourteench-55-the-space-between-the-truth-a-lie/

Chapter 54 A Chapter from ess/2020/08/30/county-fair-time-again/

Chapter 52 Patrick & John: “We Got Shoes”

https://gayadult49.wordpress/2020/08/29/patrick-john-part-ii-we-got-shoes/

Chapter 36 Patrick & John: Summer Camp Day

https://gayadult49.wordpress/2019/12/16/summer-camp-day/

Chapter 27 Levi: Dustoff

https://gayadult49.wordpress/2019/11/06/dustoff/

Chapter 24: The Chillicothe Interlude

https://gayadult49.wordpress/2019/10/28/the-chillicothe-interlude/

And a further collection of The Chillicothe segments

Fourteen: Scenes from ess/2020/09/21/fourteen-scenes-from-chillicothe/

Nifty stories by Philip fty//gay/adult-youth/stories-in-the-human-calculus/ 

Brief, Anonymous Survey:

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I have written a variety of short stories and novellas. You can follow this safe link to my Body of Work.

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