Hello! It`s time for Tuesday Tales.
Today we have the last issue in my historical M/M romance, Dear Jon, which is set in 1945. Every issue of this serial will be under 1500 words so they're quick reads. Our word prompt today is 'Swallow'. This story contains mature language and gay sexual situations. If that offends now would be the time to move onto another Tuesday Tales offering.
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"Why don`t you and Aunty Charlotte go see what those noisy birds are up to?" Charlotte asked, rising from her seat to take Andrew by the hand. The boy looked at me. I nodded at him. Out they went as Corporal David Brooks held the door open for them as gallant as any man could be. Andrew peeked back once through the dirty screen. I smiled to put the lad at ease.
"Are you two queer?" David asked as soon as Charlotte and Andrew were out of hearing range.
"Yes," I said as strongly as possible. Ross squeezed my fingers. I have never felt as vulnerable as I did at that moment. The radio was nothing but white sound now. I couldn`t tell you who was riding the airwaves for all I could hear was my pulse pounding in my ears.
"I just wish to say that while we may be homosexual that does not mean that we are pedophiles. Those are two vastly different--"
"I`m well aware of the difference," David said then came back over to sit across from me. "My brother is queer. I suppose I was just shocked to hear that two queer men were going to raise a boy in such a backwoods county."
Ross had to speak. I was too overcome with emotion to form a coherent thought. His brother was queer. Oh, thank you God or whoever looks down on men like Ross and me.
"We had the secret well hidden," Ross explained. I nodded along as the whole story unfolded. I even smiled a bit when David choked on his bite of pie when the revelation about Charlotte was made. "I would have never guessed," he said after washing down the pie with some fresh coffee. "Betty never mentioned the fact that you were a homo. She just said you and her had harsh words the day your father died. She mourned the loss of your relationship, Jon. I can tell you that."
"Yes, I do as well," I said timidly. "So, David," I began as Ross sat down on my left. We could hear Charlotte scolding the geese for splashing her dress on the hot summer wind blowing through the screen-door. "You said you had family in Boston? Is that . . ." I had to pause to force the query out. "Is that where you and Andrew will be going?"
He nodded. My heart broke into several large chunks.
"Yes, my family owns a large foundry that will employ over a thousand men. Most were off serving but now they`re slowly coming back. I have a managerial position waiting for me. My mother and father, they`ve opened up their home for Andy and me. I think, well, I think we`ll take them up on the offer. I had planned to buy a nice little house for Betty and me but . . ." he swallowed down his own ball of grief. Was it possible that this man, this shell of a soldier, this gaunt willowy man could need the uncompromising sort of love that only a child could give? Could he need Andrew now more than I did?
"Would your mother take care of Andy while you were working?" I enquired. Ross now had my hand under his. Being open about our love made this a little easier.
"Yes, she would. She`s looking forward to having us both back home. She, uhm, she said she feared she would never see her youngest son again, and now she has a son and a grandson to coddle."
Corporal David Brooks blushed. I could not help but like the man no matter how I wanted to hate him. And believe you me, I was trying to hate him to beat the damn band!
"Your parents sound like fine, upstanding people," Ross said. "I know this is very forward of me, but do you think it would be possible for Jon and I to come see Andrew once in awhile?"
David lowered his mug from his thin lips. "I should hope so. Actually, I was hoping you and Jon would come along. I think if you two were there - people he knows and is obviously close to - well, it would make things easier for the lad, don`t you think?"
"Yes," I grinned, "Yes, I think it would make things much easier for him. Thank you, thank you so much," I said then began to cry despite all my efforts not to. Ross handed me his hankie.
"Betty would never forgive me if I cut off her Jonny. Tell me, did she leave any kind of letters for me with you?"
I shook my head as I blew my nose. "No, there was only one letter. I`m ashamed to say that I haven`t read it yet. Life has been quite a whirlwind since I learned about Andrew."
"Ah," David said, looking rather crestfallen. "Well, if you should ever come across any addressed to me that she wrote while she was ill I`d be glad to have them. How much is it like her to not share that sort of news with those she loved?" he asked with a wistful smile. "Damn, she was one strong woman."
"Yes, she was."
"I can see that same kind of strength in you. I mean, moving out here to raise my boy alone, knowing how much the people here resent your kind. You gave up everything for Betty`s son, and that takes courage. I`m really glad Andy will have men like you in his life."
I began sniffling again. I was glad Andy would have men like us in his life as well. And a father that was so open-minded. And an aunt who wore pumps and pin-striped frocks like no other woman.
I know this is going to come as a terrible shock, given how we ended things. You have no idea how many times I wrote letters to you, only to crumple them up. Pride. It is certainly a blessing and a curse and something you and I, and yes, Father, have in abundance. Jon, no matter how you may feel about me, and the stand that I took that day, please do not let your hatred for me spill over onto Andrew. He is my darling baby boy. You are his uncle. He is all the family you`ll have left once this cancer takes me. His father is presumed dead, and that dream I had of marriage and a family is now gone. All that is left is sickness, hospitals, and a lost little boy with his uncle`s eyes and laugh.
Love him. Raise him well. Teach him about acceptance and forgiveness. Hold my baby close to you and never let anyone say that a man like you can`t be a good role model. I don`t care if you`re queer, Jon. I never did. Daddy did, I know, and I can only guess how much his disgust hurt you. But when I said those things about trying to be more like the rest of us, I only wanted to see you happy and safe. You took it to mean I was against your being a queer. I wasn`t. I was terrified of you being a dead queer.
Funny how when your time is near you see things with so much clarity, isn`t it?
I laid the letter on the counter. The sun was falling behind the trees. George and Gracie were resting beside the creek with their heads tucked under their wings. Andy and his father were sitting on the bank, talking to each other. The setting sun cast them in brilliant orange. I drug the back of my hand under my eyes. Someone big, firm, and kind slipped his arms around me.
"I hear they have lovely landscapes in Massachusetts."
My lips pulled up at the corners even though the tears weren`t dried yet.
"I hear they have lots of wood there as well," I replied soaking all the strength I could from his embrace. "She never hated me for being queer," I choked out. Ross held me tight as father and son began to laugh out by the creek. We stood there in silence for several minutes. "Will you come to Boston with me? With us?"
"Just try to stop me," he whispered teasingly as a redhead called out that the hot dogs were sufficiently burnt.
I hope you enjoyed Jon, Ross, and Andrew`s story. It has been a joy for me to write. I hope it has shown, in some small way, the steps that we have made in learning acceptance. Even today the war wages on but as Jon and Ross can attest to, love is love. It does not matter what gender or race those in love are. Let`s knock down those last remaining walls of intolerance once and for all.
Next week I'll begin sharing snippets from my current works-in-progress. Hope to see you then!
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See you next week!