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The following story is for adults and contains graphic descriptions of sexual contact between adolescent and adult males and the power imbalance of these relationships. Like so many of my stories, this is a voyage and return.

If you are a minor, then it is illegal for you to read this story. If you find the subject objectionable, then read no further. All the characters, events and settings are the product of my overactive imagination. I hope you like it and feel free to respond.

Fourteen runs through five progressions, with frequent interludes. If you would like to comment, contact me at ail.

Will you join your fellow authors and readers to support Nifty? To contribute discreetly  to the continuing operations of the Nifty Erotic Stories Archive website using a credit card or other methods of donation, go to fty/donate.html 

Thanks so much to Philip Marks for his contributions and the background conversations that bring the story onto the page. I also want to add a shout-out to Mischief Night who answered my call for a proofreader. Thanks to those who keep Philip and me updated on your interest.

Theo 8

Shekerley Boatyard and Marina, Falmouth Harbour, Antigua

September 30, 2018

Greyson Gates’ first car was a 1981 Mercury Capri RS Turbo. He remembers the day in 1996 when his dad helped him with the transfer, the owner set the keys in his palm, and the car was really his.

Greyson could not resist the flash of color or the sporty exterior accents. He could not resist the prospect of looking at the bulging hood as the 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder roared to life. The car still looked pretty good as the 1990s rolled on, until you realized the Capri only made 117hp and Greyson’s new-old machine was just a sheep in wolf”s clothing. Not a cherry red Mustang or (dare to dream) a Viper GTS, but first wheels all the same, so Greyson cherished it as if the yellow Capri was all of that.

Of course, before young Greyson could drive away, Herbert Gates went full-on Polonius sending Laertes off to Paris. Herb had his anxious say about the responsibilities of first car ownership. Neither a car borrower nor a lender be; for loan oft loses both Capri and friend, And your buddy will dull the finish of your wax. Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar at the stop signs. The girlfriend thou hast (and bases tried), avoid grappling with her on thy backbench;  do not drain thy wallet with entertaining each new-hatch’d, unfledged comrade. This above all: to thine ownself be true, and it follows as night the day there will be no traffic violations (or a father’s wrath) … and Herb felt pride as his son took the man’s keys. After the old Capri roared to life under Greyson’s heavy foot, Herb could not help matching the seventeen-year-old Greyson’s joy-triumph grin.

Greyson Gates missed that moment, and it was left to Theo Clarke to watch Jeremy step onto Gravity’s stern, or he would have, if at that crucial rite of passage he had not turned back to flip the bird at George Thomas. “I’m not your valet parking!” Geo fumed when Theo asked him to watch the scooter for them. When Theo turns back to Jeremy, he is already in Gravity’s cockpit.

Jeremy surveys the deck and rigging as if this is his first time on the Dufour 29. Mary Rule took the slip for three weeks, so she could clean her sloop completely. Jeremy has to move it now. He has to move his boat. His boat is not a Super Maramu 2000 or a Bavaria 47 like Zachary Jain’s, but Jeremy cherishes every curve. The key to the companionway comes out, and he unlocks the hatch and boards.

Gravity has three drop boards for heavy seas and marina security. Two are teak and the center board is well-worn acrylic after the sloop’s long cruise. Jeremy slips them out of their slots and stores them in the starboard cockpit locker box where an optional security panel of welded steel mesh waits for its turn. In the evening, Jeremy will add the drop screen over the companionway, so Antigua’s insects stay where they belong.

Jeremy drops down the companionway into the main cabin. To starboard, the map station is a compression of the necessary and redundant. The functional bench that lifts off the end of the starboard berth makes a tight fit before the teak chart table. Beneath a new clear vinyl desk protector, Mary has gifted Jeremy a new nautical chart of Antigua. Her ten-inch tablet lies on top of that, right beside a brand new Hansa Pilot log book. Jeremy flips the book open: vessel, voyage, date. The pages are crisp and fresh like the new skipper of Gravity.

Almost like taking his father’s chair at the table, Jeremy sits down in Mary Rule’s seat. He opens the log book to its first page, checks the time, and carefully writes his first entry in the log. Slowly, he puts the log book and the tablet inside the desk, then drops the top. Behind him on the berth, there are things to take out of his bike bag, but instead, he scans the meters, runs checks on everything that he can think of. Jeremy is solo sailing now, he is Gravity’s master and commander and that watch never ends.

Theo lugs Jeremy’s loaded duffle and two fabric bags of groceries to the companionway. “Give a girl a hand, honey,” he calls down to Jeremy. Jeremy takes the bags and leaves them on the bench below the microwave. It would help to put the table leaf up, but Mary left both sides down.

Theo Clarke surveys the main cabin with sensibilities tuned to the high-end finishes of High Grade and the other yachts he has set foot on. Sensible and uninspired decor, much like the Canadian woman he has come to know this last month. Anchors aweigh and a ship’s-wheel pattern on a distinctly-dull nautical blue, so Canadian, Theo assumes.

The aft wall behind him is old-white plastic and fine cabinetry painted Ikea-functional to match. Down at the other end, the forward wall is pristine-original teak-finished wood panel. The sort of thing a Dave like Dov Norrell could easily put his fist through to make an incoherent point. Theo cannot remember what Mary had fixed on that wall, but it is unadorned now.

That needs something special like Anton’s print on the bedroom wall in Jeremy’s lost boat, Theo decides. He is learning that his Fergus tends towards functional minimalism, even in bed; which is not to suggest there is an adolescent lack of imagination. It will take Theo’s deft hand to bring élan to this small boat. New fabrics first, Theo adds one thing to the mental list.

“Where do you want the duffle, love?”

“Put it in the V-berth for now. I will get to it later,” Jeremy answers. He has begun opening and closing every locker in the main cabin. Any minute, Theo expects him to lift the floor decks and inspect the bilge.

Theo glances around the head between the main cabin and the V-berth. Again, this is not the hall-of-mirrors boudoir on Norrell’s High Grade. The toilet is on the larger port side and there is the retro-molded sink fitted out with its suggestively fridge-door shelving and inadequate mirror. The color is bright orange, a tangerine shade that reminds Theo of Jeremy’s favorite splash of color. It is almost sensuous and the first thing Theo likes. Needs a better mirror and a decent light, another item on the list. Behind the throne are fitted shelves that would overflow with Theo’s life necessities. Behind the bulkhead door, more locker storage for foul-weather gear (or a skirt). Mary left none of her own.

“Open the hatch in there,” Jeremy suggests with his new authority. Theo looks back at him. He is busy ventilating the stuffy cabin by opening its hatch and the ports on either side. No air conditioning here, just the whisper of a patient, solar exhaust ventilator and the hum of sconce fans as Jeremy turns on the power. This boat is my Jeremy, Theo realizes. He thinks of High Grade and all the other yachts he has entertained-been-entertained on since fleeing from Miami. Dil’s traded up. He turns to Jeremy, now putting the fresh goods away in his new galley. “What?” Jeremy pauses and his grin twitches the seriousness away delightfully. “You”re giving me the look,” Jeremy accuses.

“Now you’re giving me the look,” Theo replies, “You promised me dinner first, Fergus. You’ve got to keep me healthy, Jimmy. Then you can show me you know how to take care of a girl.”

“You’ve not been paying attention,” Jeremy laughs. He looks at the expensive swordfish and decides to leave it out on the cutting board.

“I’ve been paying attention, honey.”

Theo sits on the surprising comfort of the V-berth mattress. It is a middle-age upgrade for Kate’s land-loving comfort. The mattress is unmade, so Theo can see the quilted top of each section. He falls back on the bed, liking its firmness. The walls around the bed are lined with ugly vinyl padding. Well, I won’t bump my head there, Theo muses. Above that band of white, there are more empty cubby lockers for their personal items. Three on a side, two with hinged doors added closest to the bow.

When Theo sits up, he notices the paneled walls flanking the doorway are also bare. Something else needing just the right touch, he decides. Boats are stuffy, but honestly, no worse than his aunt Ronica’s shed or the dank oppression of his mother’s apartment in Jamaica. Gravity’s V-berth mattress is smaller than the one they shared on Sirocco. He opens the hatch and side ports.

Such a fuss to cut the ties from Shekerley Boatyard and Marina. Jeremy might be launching a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral for all he actually did was give his boat a mighty shove and leap the growing distance from the dock onto its stern.

Jeremy has Theo stand Kate-Winslet in the bow pulpit, eyes out for offending-impending craft. Theo lifts his wings and promised to bring a scarf next time. The outboard on the little Zodiac trailing behind is noisier than Gravity’s electric. Theo at the bow can feel the sloop pick up speed and a satisfactory bow wave begin to ripple out.

“More to the left, port, port!” Theo waves, “now starboard, two o’clock to starboard.” Gravity’s bow swings to the left instead. “You’re not listening, love,” Theo turns around and rests against the guardrail.

“I can see where I’m going,” Jeremy assures Theo. He is standing with one bare foot on the tiller, guiding his new craft like Jack Sparrow (or Captain Morgan) in a leg-flattering swimsuit and the golf shirt he gained from working on Emil L’heureux’s Gulfstar, Man-o’-War Bird. It hangs manly-loose on Jeremy’s shoulders with its bird logo. Jeremy will need his own shirt, something that says Gravity.

“Oh honey, do any of us really see where we are going?”

Jeremy wants to raise the sails and forge out into the Caribbean. There has been little time to sail with Mary Rule since she made Falmouth Harbour. He had the Peck charter after all, and he was scrambling after the quick beaching by Anton Schroeder. Definitely a distraction. But conning Gravity is easier than remembering how to ride a bike. He near-on solo sailed Gravity from Panama City to San Jose in the Pearl Islands, while Mary Rule watched. He recalls their time together sailing the Bay of San Miguel. There are always things to learn, but Jeremy is confident at the tiller.

No sails today, Jeremy sighs. It is the weekend and his Saturday belongs to Kenroy Jean-Baptiste and old Vinny. He owes his weekend evenings to Claark and Anna van der Merwe at Lekker Braai. Jeremy has promises to keep, no miles to go before he sleeps. He angles Gravity away from the broad harbor-mouth promise of freedom and picks a bit of privacy between Shekerley and the Catamaran Hotel and Marina.

One promise to his parents. First off son, his father said, Fourteen Gates sounds a lot more practical and reliable as a place to stay. Even if you pursue the charter boat idea I think having a place to stay on land would be a good idea and one that costs you almost nothing … I would urge you to take that deal at least you have a backstop if you need it. So there is the Fourteen Gates option to consider, and Jeremy has not shared this with Theo yet.

Theo watches the swordfish on the 18” charcoal Hibachi grill suspended off the guardrail. Jeremy leaves strict instructions to only lightly sear the delicate flesh on both sides while he finishes preparing the rest of their meal. He cuts a corner with a Caribbean confetti rice they picked up in St. John’s on their way back. That leaves Mary’s new induction cooktop unexplored. Jeremy sips Anton’s wine and nukes the rice in the microwave instead.

It is a lucky evening. They eat their meal in the cockpit, Theo’s toes nosing into Jeremy’s crotch. “I miss a table out here,” Jeremy apologizes. Theo simply taps out a rhythm with his big toe in reply and holds out his empty glass for a refill. “I’m gonna be sad when Anton’s wine is all gone, just saying.”

“Hold very still,” Theo cautions. Jeremy is staring into his eyes, but Theo cannot focus on that. His own are drawn involuntarily to meet Jeremy’s glittering eyes, and he exhales slowly. With an effort, he resumes his task. “Don’t blink.” Theo draws a confident line along Jeremy’s eyelid. He sits back to assess the result.

They have moved down from their evening dinner in the cockpit to Gravity’s privacy. Theo found Jeremy’s wrapped present waiting for him on the V-berth mattress. It was Anton’s silk kimono. “I knew you liked it,” Jeremy told him shyly. That resulted in a mutual disrobing. Now they sit side by side on a bench in the salon where Theo amuses himself fixing Jeremy’s face.

“How does it look?”

“Well, I’m sure the colors don’t suit your complexion,” Theo concedes, “but your eyes look like Jack Sparrow’s. All you need is the dreadlocks and a red bandanna.”

“But I don’t want to be a pirate!” Jeremy whines, “Let’s take a look.” He springs up and brushes a hand across Theo’s chest as he goes to the mirror in the head.

“Don’t be too judgy, the lighting in there is criminal,” Theo warns. Jeremy’s retreating ass is squeezed nicely into a black bikini promise.

The eyes look sort of pharaoh. He needs a mustache and the small goatee if he is going to be Jack Sparrow. Daniel Ayers’ beard, Jeremy has been curious how his face will carry a beard. He looks askance, gold and bronze highlight his cheekbones and his lips are siren red. He turns back to Theo and tries a seductive pose. “Wherever we want to go, we’ll go,” he slurs out like Keith Richards.

Theo is already flowing toward Jeremy, then he is pushing Jeremy down on the V-berth mattress. The silk is loose about Theo and he shrugs it off with two shrugs. Jeremy gathers it up and flings it to a corner where his duffle sits forgotten. “You don’t have to be Jack Sparrow for me, Fergus,” Theo tells him between kisses.

They are not predictable, not with each other. Touching has become important, and feeling. Their lips feel while the last of their clothing is stripped away. A single leg lifted to unsnag black bikini invites fresh touching, new feelings. Theo pauses, “I think we got ahead of ourselves.” He has realized nothing useful has been unpacked.

“If you were waiting for an opportune moment, that was it,” Jeremy observes, “nothing in your bag?”

“Am I Boy Scout ready? You have one in your wallet?”

“If you were careful,” Jeremy bites his lip. Their eyes lock, until Jeremy buries his face in Theo’s neck, pressing his lips against the moist skin. The penetration is eased by Theo’s welcome flow. Jeremy twines his tanned legs around his good night and lets fingers tap around Theo’s beautiful face, trying its frets with inquisitive chords. There is trust and risk in this, a new determination, like untethering your boat cebeci escort and springing to the moving deck.

This is a giving, and such a pleasure. There is no expectation of love. It’s the simple animal joy of experiencing the euphoria of courtship. The touching, smells, permissions, that is what Jeremy celebrates. It is.  just an orgasm.

When Theo climaxes, Jeremy’s fingertips play the keys of his partner’s open mouth. He cups the quivering head and draws Theo back to his painted lips. He will not let Theo withdraw. He holds him with his grip.

Theo is overwhelmed with the inevitable memory of the violent intent in the Kingston police station with its animal threat of what the men had done to Bobbie. His lips slide away from Jeremy’s and as he finally leaves his lover’s body, he sobs. His back is stroked. “My tremendous intuitive sense of the male creature informs me that you are troubled.” There is laughter in Jeremy’s Johnny Depp tone. Theo presses his wet eyes into the unmade mattress cover.

“It’s not a joke.”

“Are you all right?”

“Let it go, Jeremy.” Theo feels his gorge rise.

Mary Rule left two sets of cleverly fitted cotton sheets for the V-berth mattress. They could be bought, but Theo thinks between Aunt Ronica and himself, they could produce another set. Just hook it at the foot and snag the corners. Theo might bounce a coin on the taut result. That elicits another troubling memory. He has spoiled Jeremy’s evening by going all Fergus on Jeremy’s Dil. Wrong person vomiting at the wrong moment, Theo thinks ruefully. Bruised my Jeremy’s feelings, I did.

“Bed’s made, honey,” Theo tries lightly from the head. “Shall I unpack your laundry bag?”

“My duffle,” Jeremy corrects, “no thanks, I’m not sure where everything will go.”

“I doubt that!” Theo answers, “You’ve probably drawn a chart by this time.”

Jeremy is propped on the bench beside the upraised table, with his small guitar modestly cradled by one crossed leg. The tuning keys are level with his eyes, but they are fixed on Theo. He has been chording, but when Theo comes in through the head bulkhead in the beautiful silk that suits him better than it did Anton Schroeder, Jeremy reaches for his plastic tumbler of rum.

Theo watches him take a sip that drains the glass. Jeremy returns to the opening chords of Bob Marley’s gentle No Woman, No Cry.

“Will you not play that?” Theo asks plaintively.

“Sorry,” Jeremy stops. “I could hardly play North Atlantic Squadron for the Pecks. ♪♫♬ A-sailing up to Newfoundland each sailor had his prick in hand.

♪♫♬ Oh say, my boys, can you make it stand? ♪♫♬ in the North Atlantic Squadron.” Jeremy shrugs expressively, “Did teach their son a few lines,” there is a sly grin, “but they wanted full on Caribbean, so yeah, Marley. Do you know Jamaica Farewell?” Jeremy asks puzzled.

“Now that song will make me cry,” Belafonte evokes the saturation of cliché impregnating his hometown, “full on with the steel drums, am I right?”

Jeremy strums the guitar once, “And even when you were throwing up, I could tell you cared.” He raises an eyebrow.

“And the fact that you didn”t know is basically the fault of yours truly,” Theo runs on in the safety of a movie script. Jeremy seems unruffled by his breakdown in the V-berth. “You”re not having me on, are you? “cause Dil can”t stand that.”

“No, not I,” Jeremy frowns, then suddenly, Theo is struck full on with the generosity of the boy’s irrepressible tangerine.

Theo takes the bottle of rum and pours a finger into Jeremy’s empty glass. It should be a cut Polish crystal like Oberyn Norrell likes. Plastic, Jeremy honors Mary Rule’s practicalities. “I”m superstitious, drink.” Theo waits until the rum slips past Jeremy’s lips, “Can”t leave me now. Never let the sun go down on an argument, Jody used to say. I think I’d like to tell you about Bobbie now.”

“Aha,” Jeremy replies, placing the empty tumbler back onto the table, “I’m listening.”

“The thing is, can you go the distance?” Theo puts his own glass down, not feeling much like drinking as his mind spins back before. “The Revenant, you saw that?” Jeremy nods. It was on Sirocco’s hard drive, because of course Anton collected Di Caprio films. “Bobbie and I had just seen it at the Palace. Thought we’d grab a bite before we went our separate ways.”

Theo pauses to think about how much he wants to tell this boy he has known only since October. Everyone has a story, and Theo is certain Jeremy’s has been very different. “Jamaica, my home, people will call radio stations saying they’re going to shoot people like us, cut our throats. People threatened me on buses; hmm? Yeah. Americans think of the ganja, everyone in a kaya vibe, Marley wailing black self-respect. Rastafarians,” Theo points at the guitar Jeremy has been toying with.  

Theo met Bobbie Tosh at a flashmob of  LGBT people gathering in Kingston’s Emancipation Park, Theo dressed in the colors of the rainbow and Bobbie quite subdued in loose board shorts that hid the hips and a black, slimming golf shirt. They went to different schools, but they shared a world. Bobbie hardly passed for boy, he bound his growing breasts, lowered his voice, cut his hair like Usain Bolt, but he was built more like Zara Northover, shot putting at the 2008 Olympics.

In 2016, it was just two years since sixteen-year-old Dwayne Jones was murdered for attending a party in women’s clothes. Bobbie thought Theo a fearless kindred spirit. When he was young, Bobbie could play football with the boys. It was a bad idea to try and foul him. He admired guts.

Bobbie thought they might be matched, his burliness and Theo’s winsome frame bolstering a true gender identity just as Bobbie’s muscles declared his masculinity. Bobbie was wrong. Theo Clarke was Theo, he admired haute couture like an Ankara skirt and blouse, or best flash-fashion moments from the Korean boy band, BTS. Bobbie’s new friend liked the ballet-balance of his own slim boy-band-body and loved the heavy dangle between his thighs. Bobbie’s new friend loved the heavy dangle between other men’s thighs.

Theo knew how to fem his school uniform enough to anger the school head, Bobbie could butch his just as well. Bobbie and Theo stood their ground. They felt stronger together. For all that Bobbie looked the stronger, the laughter killed and his muscles never helped. Get Theo tipsy and he was a sauce spicing everyone around him into a grudging humorous acceptance. Everyone but Bobbie. The drink made Bobbie surly, then it made him sad.

The friends shared The Crying Game together. Bobbie would grow to be a big man like Forest Whitaker. He could be Theo’s protector, Jody. “So when you come to shoot me, Paddy, remember, you”re getting rid of a shit-hot bowler,” Bobbie quoted to Theo, wanting to be Forest Whitaker.

“Bobbie, you can’t bowl worth shit, and Jody let a slag trip him up,” Theo reminded his friend. “You fancy Dil do you?”

“She’s bashy, puttus,” Bobbie husked out, and barring the details, baby, details, Jaye Davidson was beautiful way back then. “You are just as bashy, girl. When we get to America, I’ll be your boyfriend, join the army like Jody. I’ll take care of you, no fear.”

“Well then, you”re going to have to take my dick out for me, aren”t you?” Theo picked a favorite line that gently reminded his best friend that details mattered to one of them. That was the problem. Theo was decidedly gay, and Bobbie dreamed of satisfying women, so they were just friends.

“They say it is getting better in Jamaica. Threw rocks at me, they did. Threw rocks at Bobbie too, it’s not normal, they told us. Wouldn’t touch me, would they?” Theo’s eyes are glittering and so are Jeremy’s. “Might be catching, maybe. So they thought they would sex it out of Bobbie, just an ugly girl to them.”

Theo did what he could, gained a few nicks that Jeremy never commented on. Theo pounded on the locked door where they dragged his friend. Bobbie was trans. They took that from him. After, Theo took Bobbie to the police station. “They laughed at him.” The officer made Bobbie feel he was to blame for the attack. “They wanted to know where we met the men. Wasn’t there, mind you, had me in a different room. They didn’t believe me when I said the men were strangers. They accused us of withholding details about what happened.” I’m telling you someone raped my friend, Theo repeated over and over.

“It was emotional,” Theo says. “I knew I wasn’t being heard.”

Bobbie lived with it for three weeks. He shrugged the evening off, talked of movies they would see, talked of moving to America with Theo. Then he took his uncle’s matic and did it to himself in the boys’ washroom at his school. Well, the mus-mus batigyal was crazy, his classmates told Theo.

The next day, Theo went back to the police station to vent his anger at the indifference. At one point, the officer said, “We’re writing too much now, let’s wrap this up.” Theo looks at Jeremy, who is sitting with his eyes closed.

“What happened next shouldn’t have surprised me,” Theo continues, his habitual good humor replaced by an angry, pained expression. “I’d heard other people talk about it. I was just experiencing it for the first time.”

To this day, Theo doesn’t know what happened with Bobbie’s case. No one contacted him, and he never went back to ask if police filed a complaint. “Branko’s not the only closet case. Don’t mind me if I can’t warm to him in uniform, don’t trust coppers much. Thought I came back for sex, he did. Thought he could take what he wanted. Didn’t treat Dil like—“

Dil would understand completely, Theo tells himself, but he is with Jeremy now, not Jimmy-Fergus. “Sorry,” he tells the beautiful boy listening so intently. “Took his baton,” Theo smiles at the memory, “pretty steamed, thought I might lay one on the bastard Jimmy right there in the interview room. Didn’t, though.

“I hope you’re never in that spot, Jeremy. Bobbie was sixteen, I was your age.”

“The policeman raped you,” Jeremy’s voice is flat. It comes from somewhere distant and before.

“Thought he could,” Theo recalls the terror of fending off the ugly constable. The man’s hands groping. Theo was groping for the handgun, but the collapsed baton was all he could jerk free from the utility belt. “Sorry, don’t mean to put this on you.” Dil never looked for pity, mourned her lost Jody before, knew after that probably it would always be a cock-up.

Jeremy feels compelled to say something, “It robs you—”

“Not I,” Theo breaks in. “You can’t rape the Theo out of me, you understand?” he asks Jeremy. Jeremy nods his head, but Theo thinks the boy cannot possibly understand. The after-grief of losing Bobbie still overwhelms Theo. He has only just begun to know Jeremy, but he thinks he would lay into whoever wanted to rape the tangerine out Jeremy. The thought of seeing anyone crushed like Bobbie. “Some of us are strong that way. Just made me angry, see? Bobbie wasn’t like that. He took it hard, and then he couldn’t take it at all.”

He had burdened Jeremy with losing Jody, so to speak. “Doing it without a condom, not the risk you understand, brings back bad memories of how they hurt Bobbie.”

“You didn’t hurt me,” Jeremy answers softly. His eyes are on the bright teak of Gravity’s deck at his feet.

After Bobbie took his own life and what had happened to Theo in the police station, it was agreed he ought to go to Miami. Sent away to another country. “That can be a good or a bad thing,” Theo says. “Couldn’t live in Kingston anymore. Mum thought Miami with my father would be a more tolerant place.” The freeing-flight from Miami was best left to another time. “Sorry, I’m sorry, you don’t need to hear this from me.”

“No, really,” Jeremy replies softly, “I understand.” Perhaps Theo is not listening to his reply.

“Boonoonoonoos, they taunted Bobbie, emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds, what a joke! I am I, redemption comes,” in a thick Jamaican accent. “Everytime I let that accent slip past my lips, it makes me sick. Sorry, now you know why I talk posh.” Theo stops. “Sorry, I’ve ruined your special night with all this. No Woman, No Cry, it is a beautiful song. One Love, I’ve got no love for Jamaica left in me. Hope that is not how you feel about America.

“Harry Belafonte is Jamaican, well, his parents were; lived there as a kid. Clean hotel rooms for old tourists, you have to know about him, tell your queer little boy about the Jamaican superstar in America. We had the Carnegie Hall recording.” Theo waves a had as if to conjure the image of the entertainer for Jeremy. “Patent leather shoes, trim black slacks, pinstriped shirt, ever so slightly pink, open at the chest,” his fingers flutter to his throat. Theo’s face is restored. “Now there’s a man I could fuck!”

“Bruce Springsteen,” Jeremy counters, thinking of his parents” music. Theo looks at him, then Theo shrugs an expressive, I could see that.

Theo goes on deck. Jeremy follows after a moment, still trying to process Bobbie’s story. His stunning Jamaican teen is at the stern, looking at Falmouth and English Harbour. Theo starts singing out to Falmouth Harbour, “♪♫♬ Day o!” there is a long pause as the words reach out, then, “Day o! ♪♫♬”

Theo sings a cappella to the incandescent harbor night as the breeze teases the hem of the silk kimono.

Jeremy moves up behind him and wraps his arms around Theo’s chest. His head is against his boyfriend’s shoulder. We’re not so very different, Jeremy realizes. It is more than their similar before that brought them together in the Antiguan now.

The friends sway with Gravity as Theo sings, “Daylight come and me wanna go home,”

Jeremy joins in, “♪♫♬ Daylight come and me wanna go home.”

♪♫♬ Daylight come and me wanna go home

Day, me say day, me say day, me say day, me say day, me say day o ♪♫♬

Daylight come and me wanna go home

♪♫♬ Work all night on a drink a rum

(Daylight come and me wanna go home)

Stack banana till the morning come ♪♫♬

(Daylight come and me wanna go home)

Come mister tally man tally me banana ♪♫♬

(Daylight come and me wanna go home)

♪♫♬ Come mister tally man tally me banana

(Daylight come and me wanna go home)

Theo turns in Jeremy’s arms and their passion overwhelms them.

Falmouth Harbour, Antigua

December 1, 2018

🔘

Remy Gates   1:21 p.m.

to Jeremy Gates, Saffron Wright, Daniel Gates, Anita Gates

⏹  Show pictures

Sky Avery Wright, born Sunday, December 1, 2018, 12:47 pm, 6.1 lb, 19 inches

Sophie and Sky are fine!!!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

“Who is this holding the baby?”

“That’s my grandfather Herb, Grandma Mary beside him, obviously.”

“And this?” Theo asks, switching to another attachment in Remy’s email.

“No idea, he looks like some random orderly my granddad just gave a cigar to.”

The morning sun has just poked over Antigua and now it floods Falmouth Harbour with the certain slant of light which Theo needs. Jeremy is sitting shirtless on the cabin roof where Gravity’s mast and a mountain can serve as backdrop.

“You need to advertise if you are going to charter out your boat. Give me your best I’m going to fuck you unconsious face.” Jeremy simply grins self-consciously. “Now give me your I’m going to let you fuck me till you’re unconscious face. Honey, you”re giving me the same face!”

“Wouldn’t it be better to have my I’m a master sailor look?”

“Oh Fergus,” Theo offers gently, “You have such a pretty little boat. This is the çeşme escort Caribbean, there are lots of pretty bigger boats.”

“So you’re pimping me out?” Jeremy looks a little stormy.

“Oh god, yes! That’s the look we’re needing!” Theo raises his phone and starts shooting, “Work it baby!”

“I promise, I’m just popping up to Auntie’s for my schoolbooks. Monday comes before you can stop shaking your sticky stick at me! Plans made for supper, or is it my treat?” Theo gives Jeremy an affectionate peck before he gets out of the Zodiac at Shekerley’s dock.

“We have food on board, but it wouldn’t hurt to surprise me,” Jeremy replies.

Emil L’heureux is waiting to take Theo’s place in the small tender. Just sitting at the outboard motor, Jeremy is already nervous.

Emil thinks about the sailboat Fourteen is taking him to, affordable, simple, and seaworthy. He does not see many small sailboats in Man-o’-War-Bird’s cruising grounds. In the last decade, all the under-thirty-foot sailboats he met were skippered by people in their twenties and thirties. These days, the anchorages are full of forty-, fifty- and sixty-foot plus ocean sailboats, but that was not to say you could not sail the world in a small sailboat.

The boat sits gracefully on the water. Back in the day, boats were constructed with thicker fiberglass hulls than Emil sees in modern builds he covets. Their rigs, keels, rudders, hulls and decks – everything about a boat like Fourteen’s was designed to stand up to high winds and big waves.

For all its obvious disadvantages, Fourteen’s sloop would be physically easier to solo sail. Just compare raising the mainsail on this boat to Bird. The systems would be simpler in an old boat like the boy’s, easier to fix.

Taking bucket baths, collecting fresh water from your sails, and hand-bombing your anchor, yeah, leave that to the young, Emil decides. A look back at Fourteen, conning his little Zodiac, confirms the boy has no qualms about roughing it. Emil is worried that the ambitious teenager has missed the most obvious thing about a small cruising boat; it does not provide much in the way of living space for paying customers, no creature comforts, and the storage for necessities or luxuries would be limited.

Fourteen has a cast-iron stomach and the fearlessness of youth. This small boat Fourteen is beginning to circle promises a far less comfortable ride than larger charter boats. Put a man with a queasy stomach like Robert Peck’s on a little boat like this, toss him about in a big ocean swell, and the charter becomes a disaster.

This old girl was designed as a cruiser racer like all the rest in the ’70s and ’80s. Fiberglass, of course, Emil judged the waterline length at only twenty-five feet. It would be less than ten feet at its widest. Fourteen’s boat could get into shallow water, safe in two fathoms. It has a distinctly pinched transom with a fixed swim deck. Like so many cruisers these days, Emil notes the chrome plated arch across the stern. Davits have been added to lift the little tender he is riding. Solar panels, of course, Everyone has them now. 

“It is an old Dufour, isn’t it?” Emil points at Gravity, “1979?”

“No, ’83, refit about ten years ago in Maine and I guess it was just done again in Florida this year.” Jeremy is sensitive to Emil’s probing for Gravity’s inadequacies. After Jeremy agreed to write up a business plan, Emil L’heureux seemed the sensible place to start. He had quizzed Man-o’-Bird’s skipper during the two-week Peck charter, so Emil knew what he was getting into coming out to see Jeremy’s sloop.

“That’s good,” Emil nods with approval. “How are the sails?” The nine-meter sailboat sits pretty at its anchors. The boy had set one off the stern, clearly anxious-protective of his new vessel. It’s a good first boat, Emil decided.

“They’ve seen wear,” Jeremy concedes. “My business partner took it up to Skagway, Alaska.”

Jeremy has learned from two bluewater sailors, four if he includes Zachary Jain (less talking there) and Emil. Since Mary Rule made her proposition, he has YouTubed and Googled the subject exhaustively. New sails, that needs to be added to the ledger for this project. If Mary never changed them, their ten years might be up.

“Not much brightwork on the deck,” Emil observes when Jeremy has pulled up to the platform halfway down the transom. There is a chrome boarding ladder that folds down from the small platform into the water. “This is useful.”

“Mary says it’s a bother.”

“You have a good-sized cockpit. I could see six people on a day cruise.” The short dodger shielding the cockpit from the spray looks like it could take a gale. Emil sees how the boy could rig a shade between this windshield and the solar panel bridge. There is nothing sheltering them today.

Emil walks around the deck. No teak, just a non-slip surface. It is very tight to his way of thinking. The deck along the coachroof has an uncomfortable angle. If the sailboat was heeled over, Emil thinks it would be treacherous to walk, even with the cable guardrails. “You’ll have to keep your passengers in the cockpit under sail,” he warns Fourteen.

The electric anchor winch surprises Emil. The paucity of space on the foredeck is what he expects from little boats. He looks back at Fourteen, but leaves the thought unsaid. Nobody is going to suntan on the bow.

Gravity keeps Emil L’heureux busy for an hour. The problematic electric conversion consumes most of that. Smaller boats tend to have simpler systems. This does not seem to be the case with Fourteen’s Dufour. It is packed with upgrades that helped the old woman navigate two oceans. “This was the woman on the dock with your friends when we came back to St. John’s? She did all this?”

“Mary, yes,” Fourteen nods. The boy continues to impress him. To explain the sloop, he pulls a school notebook from beside the chart table and uses his diagrams to retrace the different systems. Small notes cloud up the margins. Fourteen even uses his phone to share pictures. It is far more detailed than Emil has interest in, but this is Fourteen’s first boat, so Emil lets the teenager run on.

He indulges Fourteen by accepting lunch. This is more effort to impress Emil. Chili dogs with onions and cheese, that is unexpected from the boy. The blackbean chili is distinctly Mexican, the cheese, unfamiliar. Emil is not sure how an underage boy laid his hands on 2SIX8 Craft beer, but it is chilled in the small American fridge that seems a sensible addition.

Finally, Emil gets Fourteen to settle across the half-table so they can talk. “You need a skipper’s license, and that is just the start,” Emil decides this hurdle is the best place to start.

“I know,” but there is an evasive shiftiness in the boy’s eyes that suggests that like the acquisition of good beer, rules are made to be broken. “You’ve seen my logs, the licensed skippers I’ve sailed with. I’ve started the Royal Yacht Association, Yachtmaster Ocean, online lessons and then I’ll do some tests.”

“Right to Yachtmaster, will you, boy?” Emil cocks his head and sips his beer.

“Using a sextant day or night? I’ve learned that. The rest? Anton and Mary kept me busy on all that,” Fourteen seems very confident.

“Eighteen,” Emil reminds him. He trusts the boy to stand a watch on Bird, true enough, Kid’s not the only one breaking rules to get by.

“RYA Day skipper is only sixteen,” the teenager replies. “I’ll be that in two months, probably emancipated too.”

“Well, that is where you would start,” Emil replies. That’s also where you probably will end, if it comes to that. Emil looks around the very limited arrangements of Fourteen’s boat. Who’s going to fly four thousand kilometers for a week on this? Emil asks himself.

“You can make $150US a day renting this boat out here in Yarmouth,” Emil points out.

“I won’t turn Gravity over to another skipper,” Fourteen replies stubborn-possessive.

“You might have to,” this just generates an angry cloud. “Well then, another $100US, for your skipper services. It is not just your age, it is your boat’s age and size. Bird is getting old herself. I am competing against bloody catamarans with four queen-sized berths. You are not going to compete with that. They like ensuite heads fit for a hotel room. If you booked a couple, for a week, like I think you are dreaming, right?” Emil pauses until Fourteen gives the barest nod. “Where are you going to sleep?” Another sip of his beer while the reality of this sinks in, “So set your mind on day trips.”

Live-aboard in Antigua is not quite as cheap as most people expect it to be. It does not have to be expensive. Kenroy Jean-Baptiste rents a slip at Shekerley Boatyard and Marina for $450US, and a mooring ball would be not much less. Jeremy has thought about this, and the problem of sleeping arrangements.

“Two day-trips each month,” Jeremy checks to see Emil’s reaction. “That should cover marina costs, if that is what I do. I could just pay the anchorage fees. I live aboard Gravity now.”

“Sail under the harbor master’s radar, you still being underage, make the two charters each month,”

“Average,” Jeremy adds.

“Average,” Emil agreeds, “add a few more, might pay for your boat’s upkeep. If you find the clients,” Emil emphasizes.

“Well, if I had some booking agents to help me get started,” Jeremy begins tentatively, “someone to toss a few scraps my way, who knows? Say someone who can’t pay your price like the Pecks did. I might be able to return the favor once I start advertising,” Jeremy bites his lip.

“It is worth thinking about,” Emil allows. “Are you free to crew over Christmas, starting Saturday of course, December 16th?”

“Just the week?” Jeremy asks slowly. Of course a gig would be available at Christmas, Bird’s regular crew would want the time off to be with family. Jeremy is just a temp.

“No, back on the 29th.”

“That would be so good! But no, dammit! My family is coming for Christmas.”

Falmouth and English Harbours

December 2, 2018

Jeremy walks along the boom, checking the main sheet where it comes down to the traveller in the cockpit. As he climbs on the coach roof midship, his eyes follow the jib sheets to the roller furling on the forestay a second time. Theo keeps Gravity directly into the wind, Jeremy unzips the mainsail from its red mainsail pack. Emil L’heureux has made Jeremy worry about the sail’s condition. He examines the reinforced head of the mainsail for any damage as he connects the halyard.

They are through the harbor mouth now. He read the wind was thirteen knots from the east before he left the anchorage. With Theo at the tiller, Jeremy has the luxury of time raising the mainsail. He could have done this by himself. Looking back, he realizes Mary trained him very well. He thought she teased him at the time. “What if I fall overboard?” The prompt what if? when Jeremy made a protest to her or Anton. She would relax in the cockpit as he scrambled about the deck freeing canvas, checking the lines, worrying about the tiller she left untended. Sailing Gravity solo, that was the goal, and Jeremy can do it.

He raises the sail as fast as he can. “Turn off the motor,” Jeremy tells Theo. Then they are sailing quietly with only the wind. “Turn to starboard, that’s good.”  He pulls the mainsheet, “Too little, still in irons, fall off the wind, turn away from the wind a bit more,” Theo glances at the weathervane and turns the tiller. Let it catch, let it catch, there we go!

Jeremy scrambles back to the cockpit and takes the tiller from Theo with a kiss. He keeps Gravity on a course, close hauled, that should send his sloop southeast along the mouth of Windward Bay to Snapper Point where he will need to tack onto a northeast heading that will take him to the mouth of English Harbour. The mainsail is full.

While Theo tries to keep out of his way, Jeremy unfurls the foresail. He grabs the starboard sheet and pulls the genoa taut. The genoa car slides easily along its track on the starboard deck. “Switch to the port side,” he tells Theo. With a steady easterly and the sails set, the boys sit side by side. Jeremy gives his friend a smile. “About a mile,” he tells Theo.

“A kilometer and a half, you’re Antiguan now,” Theo corrects him.

“I guess that’s so,” Jeremy giggles. Living my new metrics is part of island life.

With the wind hitting the port side, Gravity is heeled over and the starboard deck beside the cabin is tricky. Theo walks the easier left deck to the bow, one hand carefully on the wire guardrail. He had brought his weekend homework, thinking he might work below while they sailed to English Harbour. It was hard to think of that while Jeremy gave him his first sail.

Past Snapper Point, they have to turn, but the angle on the wind will put them into irons. Jeremy could make the short run to English Harbour on the motor, but he wants Gravity to sail. He keeps the sloop headed toward Africa till Freeman Bay lies at 10:00. “Ready to tack,” Jeremy warns Theo. He has the port side jib sheet at hand, “Tacking!” release the starboard sheet, secure the port side, not too difficult! Theo joins him on the starboard side of the cockpit. They are close reaching on the port tack now, using the physics of wind and water to take them past the Pillars of Hercules and into the business of English Harbour.

“You have to do this, Jem,” Theo begins, “You cannot not do this!”

They are looking at a dilapidated bachelor suite in the far corner of the Fourteen Gates’ quadrangle. It is the least damaged unit, and so it is piled with discarded furniture. Jeremy is barely looking at the room. He stands at the window looking past the private courtyard with its wrought-iron gate.

Theo turns a tap, “No water.” They would give Jeremy that. A place to cook, a large bed from the selection stacked against the far wall. “White, some blues shading to violet,” Theo decides.

“A year maybe, that’s what they said,” Jeremy cautions. “It will be renovated and rented out to someone else.”

“A little paint,” Theo insists, “and a lot of soap and water!” he adds more dubiously. Theo walks to the old windows facing the inner courtyard. “It is such a mess, Fergus.” Current work still clutters the inner yard with things best left unseen.

The signs of incompleteness are not what is on Theo’s mind as he surveys the old school compound. They are two boys struggling together, too stubborn to accept their lives back home, hardly making ends meet on the edge of Antigua’s dark side. They are two mice nibbling at the rich edges of the tourist trade.

There has been help from family. Theo’s mother and his Aunt Ronica support him while he finishes school. Jeremy’s family seems ever-present, but Jeremy gives few explanations. Two mice nibbling, but not nearly the same. Mary Rule gave Jeremy a boat to live on and a hope of chartering. Is that like my aunt’s shed and the shifts massaging at the spa? Theo wonders. This property overlooking English Harbour was a whole different thing. Not nearly the same, Theo realizes.

“I don’t get anything from it,” Jeremy explains, as if he too is conscious of the advantage. “Dad is not even in charge. Well, sort of, but right now, it is a money monster eating everything it makes. There is little here for me.” He turns away from the view to look at Theo.

“Honey, do you have any idea what this place is probably worth?”

“Well, $400,000.”

“American dollars, no honey, this place is a steal for that. Do you know what it would cost my aunt to buy the house she rents in Swetes?”

“This cim cif yapan escort whole thing,” Jeremy waves about, “this is an afterthought. Hell, I might never have known about it for another ten years. These buildings bought a passport. That was all it was supposed to do. Do I live here? I don’t think that was his plan. I don’t know why he bought it. I don’t know if I could live here.”

“Money left on the table, wasn’t it?” Theo suggests, “I don’t quite understand your reluctance. You were living on his sailboat when I met you. How is this different, because he gave this to you?”

“You mean Anton?” Jeremy furrows his brow.

“Yes, him.”

“This isn’t Anton’s doing, all this is someone else. This is Levi. Money on the table? I’ve walked away from that before,” Jeremy knows.

Theo does not. He is doing massages about the island now, word of my mouth, Theo might joke. Welcome fees, and tips for something extra now and then. Jeremy is uncomfortably conscious of this. Jeremy does not like to think this complex is for services rendered in the Luxor Winnebago. It is like Levi has not relinquished his hold on Jeremy.

“You can’t leave this on the table, honey.”

“I don’t suppose I have a choice at the moment. Not in my hands,” Jeremy gifts Theo with his smile. Pay it forward, Mary recommends. Is it better to listen to Mary than sort through his feelings about Levi Fisher? Jeremy sighs, I likely never will! But it is my choice to live here!

Gravity lies in the bay close by Antigua Slipway Limited. It has companions close at hand, but none of them are keeping a watchful eye on his precious sloop. English Harbour is not particularly prone to theft, but life is what it is. Gravity is all he has and Mary Rule has confidence in him. Jeremy knows his family wants to trust his judgment. Protecting Gravity comes first.

“You need to understand, if I live up here on the hillside, no view of the harbor this side of the building, I can’t watch Gravity. I haven’t found a slip or mooring, but that could cost $1300EC every month, maybe less if I paid in US dollars. If I simply anchor Gravity in Falmouth Harbour or where I left it today, it can get broken into if I’m not there!” He shakes his head.

“You wouldn’t have to sleep here all the time. It just seems rubbish to ignore this, Fergus. Why does the idea bother you so much, it’s brilliant!” Theo had not thought about the boat. Boats brought him from Miami, but he never loved them. Jeremy has affection for these boats. “You’ll think about it won’t you? A bed would be nice.” Theo stands beside a double bed propped against the wall. He takes a Vanna-pose, one arm raised, the other palm directing the contestant to examine his prize-reward.

Jeremy has to grin at the invitation. He glances around the dilapidated suite. “I’ve got to get back to the boat.” He is not ready to answer Theo’s question. The Kingston story oppresses Jeremy. He left Levi Fisher’s Luxor Winnebago in Fraser Wells, Theo wanted him to step back into that troubling before here in English Harbour. He wants to be safe in the simplicity of Gravity, focused on his challenging-satisfying now. This isn’t the right time to explain, I can’t explain! “Theo,” this is a plea, “I can’t talk about it now! I’ve got to, we should,” Jeremy just shrugs his helplessness and walks out the door.

Theo is hurt. Sharing his thoughts and feelings, having Jeremy support them is important. He has confided in Jeremy and now he realizes the American boy is holding something back. They sleep together, go through life in Antigua side-by-side. If that is enough for Jeremy, it is not enough for Theo. The face-to-face is so important. The boys have to talk this out. Theo will see this conversation is not finished. Jeremy left the unit’s keys on the kitchenette counter. He picks them up.

Green Island, Antigua

December 5, 2018

I have until the end of February to complete my first certification, admit it, maybe the end of March, and that means he would miss the best of the North American tourist season. He would be sixteen by March, then he would have the different licenses and certificates he needed. There should be Gravity charters below official-officious radar. They would pay Gravity’s expenses. Till March, okay, maybe April, he could do that to keep his venture in the black until the next high season. 2019 and 2020, those would be his years.

Green Island off Nonsuch Bay is a perfect destination. Jeremy likes it better than Panama’s Pearl Islands. It is like being back in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Green Island is volcanic. The grey basalts are complemented by the tenacious greens of island vegetation. The somber rock stands out against the blinding lightness of the beach. No California beach could be this clean, this well groomed.

Gravity is anchored off a slip of sugar sand and floating over a teeming bed of coral. In the shelter of the lagoon, the ocean barely stirs. Jeremy shares the small beach with a few neighbors and two large catamarans. Neither of the bigger boats intends to stay the night. Wadadli Cats stamped on a yellow hull, and Excellence is scripted on the cabin of the other. Excellence is a power boat hosting easily fifty guests. They mingle about the deck, more interested in drinks and conversation than the perfect water. Wadadli Cats is a sailboat with perhaps twenty sightseers less engaged in Caribbean rum.

Jeremy thinks of Emil L’heureux’s cold-water-caution. Gravity cannot go head to head with the big (new boat) operators, but the two catamarans beached on the sand are nothing more than rat-packed, economy excursions. Gravity and its young skipper can offer intimacy and tranquility, and special memories.

The pair of catamarans might have motored out from English Harbour, ten miles away. They might be from the resorts across Nonsuch Bay. From where he sits in Gravity’s cockpit, he can see the hillcrest villas and the warren of the resorts along the distant beach. Before long, the two charters will pull out to some fresh spot, and Jeremy and his smaller companions will own the peace and quiet.

Jeremy frowns at his tablet. It is hard to know what clients might like. The cocktail-beer-fueled babble is simply white noise as he thinks. Jeremy imagines his clients complaining, “Take us somewhere quiet.” Or maybe he is wrong about that. Maybe his clients would want a chance to mingle with the charter crowd, enjoy the shared excitement before their dream vacation lapses back into a cozy couple. This has to be part of his business plan: anticipating desires, asking the right questions.

Gravity is just fine without Sirocco’s handy extra table. There is only room for what is necessary. Google Keep is open on his tablet. Green Island has four plusses, maybe five. When the noisy charters have left, Jeremy will take a picture of the small beach, another of his boat hanging on the water above the coral. If I had a drone, but this just makes his shopping list that much longer (and expensive). The pictures I would be able to offer clients, besides the advertising, he realizes. He adds this to his note.

There are things to buy, like more snorkelling gear. Jeremy had not realized how much Daniel Ayers spent on gear for him in Baja California. He thinks he needs two more sets. He came to Green Island to check out the local kitesurfing. Kitting out is too rich for Jeremy’s budget, better to rent. Jeremy rubs a sore shoulder. Of course, he had to take a lesson for research purposes. Definitely in the brochure now, with the picture they took of me.

His ideas are not original, scoffed from everyone else’s websites. Jeremy decides he needs to tap into the goodwill of Branko and his growing circle of island friends. He needed to brand himself with safe local gatherings on the beach, obscure happenings, unexpected treats to eat. There was time. Still, Green Island might be the place to bring his family at the end of the month.

The closest neighbor is a sweet three-cabined Leopard out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It is crewed by two ladies. They were surprised to learn Jeremy was solo sailing. Their boat was exactly what Emil L’heureux warned Jeremy about. He took it as a challenge and invited them to dinner on Gravity. Distractions! His list of study courses has grown and he has to fit them in. Shane and his other friends have years before they graduate from high school. Jeremy is cramming for ten weeks. He sets the tablet down beside him with no small frustration. They will have their learner’s by now.

The shabby studio apartment offered at Fourteen Gates is on his mind this afternoon. Everyone thinks he should just take it, and Jeremy has had a new thought to add to the decision. Mr. Joseph at Joseph have a think.” Bobbie had his think, could not catch his breath. Theo breathes in the tangerine-alive of the boy in his arms, kisses flesh. Can’t think of Bobbie. He’s dead. In Jamaica ’cause we were fools.

Jeremy pulls away and reciprocates. He becomes absorbed in Theo’s features, running his fingertips around. They kiss lightly. “They sold me to Levi. That’s really what it was. Levi was complicated. I get tired trying to sort that out, the months with him.”

“Doesn’t have to all be said. Not now, Fergus.” Theo sighs heavily. This Levi person weighs heavily on Jeremy.

“It was easier,” Jeremy tries to explain.

“Oh honey, you don’t have to tell me!” It was always easier to go clubbing than sort things ou in Miami. Theo’s first time was a fright-delight fiasco just behind a club, not the stuff of dreams, well, perhaps some of the dream.

“You told me what happened to your friend Bobbie. You didn’t say it, but I think you feel you let him down, missed noticing, couldn’t stop the hurt.” A look at Theo confirms this. Jeremy takes a deep breath. “I said I’d explain Da Nang.”

Jeremy tells what he knows about Levi’s before, mostly as he learned it sitting half naked, brushed by death, on a cold Nebraska street just down the highway from Hershey (not the chocolate). It is Fourteen’s story now, the last one to know it, so his young heart centers the tragedies of Levi Fisher’s before and after on the erotic-dreamy now of a simple walk up room in Da Nang.

When Jeremy has finished the story, he slowly adds, “It guilted Levi that he did not notice Tuan’s hurt, or anger, whatever. Tuan killed himself for a purpose, maybe Bobbie doing it that way in the boys’ bathroom, maybe he had something he wanted to say too. Maybe Bobbie and Tuan both wanted to show someone you couldn’t fuck it out of them.” Jeremy pauses thoughtfully as he repeats Theo’s phrase.

“Just leaves a mess,” Theo replies.

“Sure, a big mess, and it ends you. I knew Levi planned to kill himself.”

“You said he had cancer, mind was slipping. I’d hate that.”

“Mom would disagree. She deals with facing dementia, pain, and death at her hospice all the time. Levi should have picked her up at that park.” But then, I wouldn’t have the rest, Jeremy knows. “Grampa Herb might say, just the mind in a hurry to get going.” A mind slipping out of the chronology of before, now, and after. “I’d have helped Levi, I think.

“Come here,” Jeremy takes Theo’s hand. They have found themselves on the lumpy couch that smells a little inhabited by previous fauna-tenants. Jeremy draws his willing boyfriend to the double bed. He has heard enough of Levi’s after to know the man loved fully, worked well, lived long, and the erotic-dreamy now of a lover in Da Nang stayed part of him.

Jeremy kisses first, because Theo is the listener in this story. Da Nang was not the stuffy, claustrophobic loft in the Pueblo. It might be this studio where the sunlight is filtered through cheap cloth and the gauze of mosquito netting, while an old ceiling fan moves the air and threatens to decapitate someone. This is Jeremy and Theo’s now.

The kiss breaks. “I’ll leave the rest of Levi and me for another time, tell you the goat story. Funny how he helped me get past the—” What should follow fails Jeremy. How does he explain his feelings for the old man?

“You deserved better,” Theo sympathizes.

“I got better,” Jeremy assures him. “Thank you for this.” Da Nang is waiting for him now that he is ready, the understanding that might grow deeper in time, the electricity that snaps and sparks between them, offering the vengeance of life. “You’re beautiful, did you know?” he informs Theo solemnly.

“Oh god yes, of course I know!” Theo touches Jeremy’s tangerine smile, “you’re beautiful, did you know?” Jeremy’s smile droops into a sad self-awareness of the sometimes peril. “It was a shitty first time,” Theo acknowledges.

Jeremy perks up at this. “Don’t you know? We get do-overs.”

Price – Levinson LLP

927 Race St., Cincinnati OH 45202, United States

Riley Putnam, Esq.

Senior Associate,

Holsclaw, Wilson, and Click Associates LLP

1 Faneuil Centre

Boston MA 02109

Via Email and Certified Mail

December 10, 2018

Dear Mr. Putnam:

This letter is with reference to your demand letter of November 29, 2018 to Mr. Ian Holland, who was at one time the Principal Trustee of the Fourteen Gates Investor’s Trust Fund of Antigua and Barbuda which is administered by Joseph and I also represent Jeremy Paul Gates in his own right.

Taking note of your letter, my clients have instructed me to propose a counteroffer to your suggestion that the Trust be conveyed to the estate of Levi Fisher for the ultimate benefit of your clients.

Our alternative offer is that the Fisher estate deposit an additional $400,000 US to the Trust as full and final mutual settlement of all claims on the part of all parties, and that the Trust remain as is with all existing assets and Jeremy Paul Gates as its beneficiary.

In the alternative I have advised my clients to bring suit against the Fisher estate; I have advised my clients to seek much higher damages than the amount proposed as I believe their case merits far higher compensation including compensatory and actual damages, punitive damages, and special statutory damages under Ohio law; but they are insistent that a more modest amount be offered as to settle the matter quickly.

I have included, for your information, a partial transcript of a statement made by Jeremy Gates on September 3, 2018 to the FBI. I”ve redacted portions irrelevant to Dr. Fisher and his co-conspirator, Malcolm King, who held Jeremy prisoner at his desert compound at the behest of Dr. Fisher. As you can see, on Jeremy’s behalf there are incontestable claims for kidnap, unlawful imprisonment, mayhem, medical malpractice, terroristic threats, extortion, multiple tort claims for coerced sexual relations with a child; and both negligent and intentional infliction of emotional damages.

On his parents’ behalf we would seek a judgment for negligent and intentional infliction of emotional damages, loss of child companionship, actual damages incurred in attempting to find and recover their son; and such additional claims as may seem appropriate.

I have recommended damages be initially sought in the amount of seven million dollars for Jeremy and the same amount for his parents; to be modified based on discovery of the estate’s assets and other matters as discovery progresses.

You may wish to notify Dr. Fisher’s malpractice insurer in this matter.  Please advise at your earliest convenience which course your clients would prefer to pursue.

Yours sincerely,

Wm. K. Price

Price, Levinson and Jones, LLP

Brief, Anonymous Survey:

Readers are often too busy or reluctant to reach out to authors. I appreciate hearing from you all. Please take my Fourteen Survey (Again). It is a quick Google Form where you can comment on this next section Jeremy Gates’ time with Theo.

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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