Robby and Ryan Chapter XIII

                           

                          From the Author:

       

       You continue to read and that flatters me. This next chapter recounts our highest highs and lowest lows. It was September 15th, 1977. I call that my ‘born again’ birthday. Robby and I connected in a way that words can’t describe, but I will try. 

       I see something I never suspected, something Robby would have hidden from me, I think at any price. I come to the realization that there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him and our lives were forever changed by circumstances beyond our control.

       He reached up and brushed some hair from my eyes. He continued looking at me, then moved his hand to my cheek. His hand had the softest touch as it slowly made its way down to my chest, but our eyes were still locked on each other.

       This was something we had done before; but had never done and we both realized what was happening. His eyes started to fill and I could feel it.

A tear slipped down his cheek and I could feel my eyes starting to burn. His tears now fell from my eyes too. He said, “Ryan, it just happened again.”

       He just kept looking into my eyes and said he could see himself and the colors around him were different than mine. He knew he had them, but had never seen them, and had never seen them around anybody but me.

      

       I could see myself as he did and he knew what I had figured out. His eyes closed and he said, “Please. Don’t, Rye.”

       I said, “It was me, wasn’t it?” And he nodded. I asked, “Robby, Why didn’t you tell me?”

       He said, “I can remember it, Ryan, and it hurts too much, you don’t need to remember it too.”

       It was all so clear now. My dream, like the one in Virginia, it was me. The colors I watched fade until they were gone; they were mine. I was seeing myself as I did now, through his eyes. It was me who had died. He was holding me in his arms and it was his heart that was breaking.

      

       He lifted his hand and brushed his finger under my eye, wiping the tear and said, “I don’t like it when you cry, Rye.”

       I said, “Your tears fall from my eyes now too, Robby.” I could feel everything about him. I felt his heart beat, his lungs fill with air, what he was thinking, and what he felt. The final link in our connection had happened.

      

       He closed his eyes tight and said, “Most of what I remember, Ryan, is so wonderful,” as big tears streamed down his cheeks and fell off his chin. He opened them and said, “But some hurt so bad.” I hurt for him. It was so painful for him and I could feel it like it was my own.

      

       He said, “Ryan,” and the phone rang again.

       I said, “Let it ring, Robby.”

       He started getting up like it was his house and said, “If it’s that BITCH,” as he got to the phone and answered it. “WHAT?” with obvious, attitude.

       I was watching him as his body tensed up. “Yes. But he’s doing something right now. Yes. I told him. Well, I can’t help that. I told you, he is doing something.”

       I couldn’t help it. I had tears in my eyes, but a smile on my face watching him, and I crawled out of bed kneeling down in front of him.

      

       I leaned in and sucked his softness into my mouth then rolled it around, chewing on it, and smiling up at him.

       I watched a smile come across his face as he looked down at me. “What was that? I didn’t hear you. Yeah, but his mouth is full right now,” a huge grin now on his face. “Fine, I’m going to put you on hold, if I loose you, call back.” And he hung up the phone.

      

       I dropped his stiffening unit from my mouth. He said, “You are so mean.”

       I told him, “You know you just told her my mouth was full, right?”

       The phone rang again; I reached up getting it before he did. I stood up and said, “Hello. Hi Trish, yeah, that happens sometimes.” Rob dropped to his knees and took me in his mouth and tightened his lips around my still sore unit.

       “What was that? I’m glad. Yeah, yeah, well like I said, well yeah.” Rob went to town, taking more of my heavy tool in his mouth. I was looking at him, looking at me, smiling. I could hear him teasing me in my head.

      

       “I’m sorry about that. No, that won’t work. I’m having dinner with Rob. No; at his house. They’re expecting me. That would be rude.” I was hard now. With no hands, he just kept working it.

      

       “No, Trish, I have to work all week and Saturday night. Trish, I told you, yeah but I don’t want you to think I’m leading you on. I can’t do that right now. No, he’s in his bedroom.”

      

       “Trish, I’m just not looking for any kind of relationship, that’s not fair to you. See, that’s what I mean, it’s none of your fucking business what I wrote. Listen to yourself. Look, Trish, this isn’t a productive conversation, I’ll see you when I see you, bye.”

       I hung the phone up and Rob dropped me from his mouth. “You should have been meaner,” he said.

Then he asked, “So what was that you gave Beth anyway?”

       “My phone number,” I said. I couldn’t keep a straight face and told him it said Park is a good guy and he has great taste. I told him that Parker is a friend; I can’t talk trash about him without setting it straight. I knew Trish would see and she did. She told me it was rude of me to do that in front of her and Rob rolled his eyes.

      

       He stood up pulling my forehead to his, put his arms around my neck, and mine naturally went to his waist. “Ryan, what just happened; it’s happened before, not like at home, it was way stronger this time.”

       I told him that it was something with our connection, it was like it grew again, “I can feel you more Rob.” Not wanting to dwell on it; I said let's go eat.

       He said, “I don’t want to eat, I want to talk about what happened. Ryan, it was like my heart grew. I saw something in you. Something I’ve never seen or felt before, or something I just remembered. It was like you were part of me; I still feel it.”

       I told him I could too. I said “These things are just part of who we are. It will drive us crazy if we don’t just accept it. I don’t have the answers, Robby. Can we eat now?”

      

       I pulled back far enough to kiss him on the forehead. We got dressed and smoked the rest of the roach from last night. We ate lunch and then just bummed around until I took him home.

       The weeks passed and the weekends blended together. We partied, went to a couple concerts and dinners at nice restaurants. Our love making became way more intense, we were falling into a routine of lovers, we played with our connection that just kept growing, and getting stronger.

       There was a place in our heads that we could meet. In our minds, together, we would go back to Fredericksburg. We would make love under our willow tree by the river.

       We would swim in the river naked, make out on the bank, and explore each others bodies in the sun. We were free there. We would sit in front of the fire talking and holding each other for hours.

       We came to the realization that Rob was stronger than I was, mentally; and he could remember far more than me. I was the emotional one. He knew my mind better than I and I could feel everything about him and hear his thoughts.

       We would play mind games with each other, enjoying the closeness we shared as well as the love that continued to grow. I never had the dreams like Rob did. He dreamt about me long before we ever met. I felt something missing; like being incomplete, but could never put my finger on it. He was what was missing. He made me whole.

       He could remember more about our pasts than me and I could tell that sometimes those memories haunted him. We came to understand that things like sights and smells, things we did with each other, had happened before.

       For him it would trigger memories; some he would share with me, some he wouldn’t. But for me, it was just like déjà vu. And so much of it centered on Fredericksburg.

      

       In mid October Walt dropped Robby of after work and he made his way into the house complaining how sore he was from weight lifting in school. I called him a pussy and asked if he wanted to sit in the tub.

       When we got out I asked if he wanted me to give him a rub down and he nodded with a smile. I put a beach towel on the bed and he lay down on his stomach.

       I stood looking down on him with the lotion in my hand remembering back to the Fourth of July. I started with his legs; working his muscles in my hands, running up over his firm ass until I felt myself harden. When I finished his back my dick was dripping and had run down my shaft to my balls.

       He rolled over and I saw the big wet spot on the towel and he saw what I looked like. I smiled at the wet spot he had left behind and questioned, “You were awake weren’t you?” And he knew what I was asking.

       He nodded and said, “I am sorry, Ryan. I didn’t know what to do. I can’t describe how your hands made me feel. I knew for sure then Ryan, I knew then and it made me come.”

       He smiles and said, “I felt it through your hands, Rye. I felt when you came. You shouldn’t have been so hard on yourself, Ryan. I know how bad you felt for what happened. I wanted to do something but I thought anything I did would make it worse.”

       He reached up cupping my cheeks in his hands. “You didn’t know yet, Ryan. I had figured it out but didn’t, or couldn’t comprehend what was happening.”

       I smiled and told him what Sylvia had said to me. ‘He has figured it out and just doesn’t know it yet.’

       I could see it in his eyes and I heard him scream ‘NO’ in my head.  

       That moment became unspoken for us. I knew he had seen the memory of Dave and he didn’t want me to know. He wanted to spare me that; didn’t blame me or hold anything against me. If he knew that, he understood what happened that night and Dave didn’t get what was meant for him, and I knew that too.

      

       We ate dinner, got in bed early, and talked about the fourth and how we both felt that night. We shared with each other; me about how it made me feel with my hands on him, how my touch made him feel, and it made us both laugh.

      

       “Robby, did you know then?” I asked.

       “I knew I loved you, Rye. And I could feel that you loved me. Is that what you’re asking?” his eyes looking deeper and questioning. Again I was lost in those pools of blue, his head tilted a little and I kissed him.

       “Sweet dreams.”

      

       Things at work were going as well for me as school was for Rob. I caught Walt a couple more time sneaking around and made a mental note. I had moved ahead with Harold; plans were drawn up for an expansion, and permits submitted. I was looking forward to letting my money make me some.

       The end of October had rolled around and our weekend got fucked up because Walt wanted to take Rob out scouting for a good hunting spot for the trip the next weekend.

       Rob called me Sunday night in a tizzy. He said he had shot a deer and it was awful. The deer didn’t run; it just looked at him. He said he didn’t want to shoot it; Walt called him a pussy and just kept taunting him until he closed his eyes and shot.

       “I felt the bullet hit it, Ryan. I felt it die. Walt was happy but I threw his gun on the ground and started to cry. Walt started calling me a pussy and we had a huge fight. I told him I hated him. He put my tag on it so I don’t have to go with him next week. The last thing he wants is for his friends and their kids to see me acting like a pansy.”

       I told him how sorry I was, but having him to myself next weekend made me happy and I would try talking to Walt in the morning. We told each other sweet dreams and said goodbye.

       I was so pissed when I got to work the next day, but I had to hide it. I listened to Walt go on about how Robby was acting like such a pussy saying it was embarrassing. I was foaming at the fucking mouth but I knew if I said anything I wouldn’t be able to hold back; what was between us would come out.

      

       I did tell him I thought he was a little hard on him and asked, “Try and see it from Rob’s point of view.” I turned to walk away but stopped. I looked back at Walt and said, “Personally, I think guys that hunt and shoot shit; just have little dick syndrome. It’s just a way for them to feel more masculine. Maybe Rob’s happy with the size of his dick and doesn’t have to shoot something to prove it.”

       I left him standing there; his mouth hanging open and walked away. I was jumping inside; I did it without giving anything away. Walt and I didn’t talk much for the rest of the day.

       Rob called me that night saying he heard Walt telling Deb what I had said to him and he wished he had been there. I told him that I held myself back. We talked about this and that and wished each other sweet dreams then said goodbye.

       Thursday I got my pep talk from Walt and said I’d see him in a week. Good rid dens asshole; hope you shoot yourself in the foot.

       I picked Rob up Friday after work and we went to the Gentleman for dinner. We were enjoying our dinner when Miss Brown was leaving and saw us.

       Rob was the first to stand and he took her hand and asked, “Please join us for a while.” She cupped his cheek in her hand and smiled then turned to me and brushed some hair from my forehead.

       She was doing it again; her eyes searching mine and looking deeper. I didn’t understand the look she gave me until the next day. She agreed and sat down. Rob had been talking about her for a month and a half; he had questions for her. She smiled at him and he asked her why he and I had such a connection.

      

       He told her we knew what the other was thinking adding that we could actually feel what the other did.

She told us that what we shared was like what twins have, but ours was much stronger. She told him not to worry; we would get used to it and would even come to depend on it.

       Then she looked at me and back at him and said, “Ryan will be the only constant thing in your life and he will always be there for you, Robert. His heart carries the strength for both of you. You are his only weakness. He would give it all to you honey, everything, and he will let you take it when you need.”

       She stood, never let go of his hand, and so did we. He started to ask more and she smiled saying, “All in good time child.” dropped his hand and walked away.

       I told him to just accept it. He said she says so much and nothing at all. We finished our dinner having one of those, in you head conversations and drove home.

       He walked into his bedroom to change and I walked in holding my grandfather's jewelry box. I set it down on his dresser telling him, “You need something to put your stuff in.”

       He started to fuss but I held up my hand. I told him I wanted him to have it, and everything inside was his too. He opened it and saw three gold chains of different sizes, cufflinks, two bracelets, and another watch.

       I told him it was his; his to do with what he wanted. It wasn’t anything he needed to ever give back to me. He shook his head and said there goes another layer of that onion.

       We sat in the hot tub and smoked a joint and he told me about his week. He still hadn’t talked to Walt since he told him he hated him last week and was kind of feeling bad about it.

       He had been telling me about the girls at school, how he had become the unattainable flirt, and it was working well. He said, “I just act like you.”

I won’t go into the details of our love-making, but our connection had made it even more, well just more.

      

       We fell asleep with me on him, my head on his chest listening to his heart, my leg resting on his still wet member, and his arm around me.

       We ate breakfast at Millie’s and went to work. We did a little rearranging in the yard; I was letting Rob drive the forklift. Walt never let him do it, but I had been letting him for a month.

       We closed up and went home to relax until dinner then a gathering at Mike’s. We had started to smoke a joint when the phone rang. I answered and a hysterical Deb was on the other end.

       Something terrible had happened and I needed to bring Rob home. While trying to calm her down, she told me Walt and his whole hunting party had been killed. The truck and camper they were in went off the road and over a cliff.

       It happened last night and took until now to be notified; then she started crying again. I told her I would bring him home right now.

       I was sure he would know something was wrong. We couldn’t hide anything from each other, and really, I had never tried. I felt the preview of the pain he was going to feel, the pain we would both feel.

       I yelled out to him that we needed to go somewhere, close and lock the door, and meet me in the car.

       I had the car waiting in the garage with the music load. He got in and asked, “What’s going on?” I told him we need to make a run and turned the music back up.

       As we got close to his house he turned to me and asked what I was doing. I could feel him searching my mind, trying to find what I was hiding from him. It wasn’t easy.

       I picked up his hand without looking at him and said he had to go home as tears started burning my eye. The closer we got; the more insistent and panicked he became. He knew something was wrong.

       I could feel him in my head shaking the gate I had closed to him. I couldn’t look at him; I was just trying to will him all the strength I had, without letting him see inside. This was going to crush him. And it was going to kill me to have to watch and feel it unfold.

       Just before we pulled in his driveway, I kissed his hand and told him; I was here and he was going to be OK. We pulled in; I got out of the car right away and walked to the door.

       Rob’s Sister, Drew, came out crying and put her arms around him. I could feel his confusion. I couldn’t hear them but I knew the instant she told him. It felt like I had been hit in the chest with a sledgehammer and my head was flooded with his emotions.

       I looked at them until he looked up and saw me. At that moment, my heart that had broken in two was shared with Robby and I willingly gave the biggest part to him. If he needed, I would have gladly given him the rest.

       I walked into a crying house and just stood there. My heart felt like; what I had saved for myself was going to explode. I could hear his screaming in my head. His anguish and fear were almost more than I could take.

       Deb came out of the kitchen, walked over, and let me hold her for a minute. I really couldn’t do anything for her, Rob was draining me of everything and I didn’t even try to stop him.

       He came in and Deb went to sob on his shoulder. She was telling him what had happened. I knew if I made eye contact with him, I wouldn’t have been able to hold it together. I was giving him everything; all my strength, and trying to absorb the pain that was in his heart.

       My head was spinning with his thoughts. In my mind, I tried to focus, “You’re going to be OK, Robby.” I just kept saying it over and over; trying to block everything else out.

       I had given him just about all I had and was getting weak in the knees. I went in and sat at the dining room table, letting them have a family mourning moment. My head was in my hands when he came up behind me.

       Robby put his hands on my shoulders; it felt like he was giving some back. He was; I could feel it. I still couldn’t look at him. I could feel it all, but couldn’t bear to see it.

       Physically, I was leveling out, but my head was still locked in his emotional implosion.

He said my name and I stood. Still not looking at him

      

       I said, “We need to go outside,” and he followed me out to the corner of the yard. I told him to sit and close his eyes. I sat next to him and repeated myself. “Close your eyes and clear your mind, Robby. Focus, it’s going to be ok Rob, focus on our breathing; breathe with me.”

       He said I can’t; I told him he could. Breathe, hear and feel our hearts, clear your mind. We had done this before just for fun, but never under conditions like this.

       I could feel his screaming in my head lessen. I had opened the gate and he could now feel my pain and sadness for him. “You’re going to be ok Rob. Go to our tree by the river; hear the water and the wind. Just think about that.”

       I went there with him and his mind started to clear a little, and so did mine. He started to slip again and in a firm voice I said, “Robert; it’s going to be ok, now just focus. I’m with you Robby, I can feel everything; it’s ok. I will help you,” and I took his hand

       “I hear the river, listen. I can smell the flowers, can you? Feel the sun and the breeze. Just breathe.” He was there with me, his head clearing and the screaming fading away.

       His sadness was intense, but bearable. The guilt he felt was crippling, but wouldn’t defeat us. I wouldn’t let that happen.

       He was still drawing his strength off me a little, but I could handle it now. He was trying not to, but he needed it, he couldn’t help it. We were sitting by the river in the grass. He was telling me everything he felt and I was telling him he was going to be ok.

       He felt guilt for the fight with Walt; for not being with him like he felt he was meant to be. Guilt for not being dead or guilt for being alive. The last thing he said to Walt was, he hated him, but he didn’t. Now he would never be able to tell him.

       He felt guilt about being happy he was alive. The sadness was for his sister and his niece and nephew who were like a little brother and sister to him. He wasn’t afraid, he believed me that he was going to be ok, because I believed it.

       I was finally able to look at him; I opened my eyes. He looked stoic, like at peace. There were no more tears. His breathing was calm and steady, his hand was in mine, and our hearts synchronized. He opened his eyes and looked at me.

       “You shouldn’t have done that, Ryan, I couldn’t help it, but you should have stopped me, I could have taken it all.”

       I told him, he wouldn’t have done that, and I did stop him. I would be fine. I lied and he knew it.

       I asked, “Rob, can you go in the house now?

You’re going to be ok, Robby.”

       He looked down at our hands and half smiled, “You were holding my hand there too.”

       I nodded and reminded him, “I will always have your hand, Robby. You know that.”

       As we walked back to the house he said, “Ryan, if it happens again, if I do that, you have to walk away. You can’t let me do that to you again.”

       I told him I had the strength for both of us and we were both going to be ok.

      

       Other people started showing up, but nobody I knew. Rob did well and I was regaining my strength, and he was working hard on staying focused. I helped a little. He could take it from me, but he wasn’t. He couldn’t stop me from pushing it to him and he would give me a look every now and then because he could tell.

       It was going on 8 hours that we had been there. I asked Deb if I should take Rob with me. She pulled me to the side, “Ryan, what did you do to him out there? He hasn’t cried and he is doing better than everybody. What was it, what did you do?”

      

       I told her I just took him to a happy place where I could help him pull himself together. I told her the next week was going to be an emotional roller coaster for him. She said he could go with me if he wanted.

       I told Deb that it was within my means to help in whatever capacity she needed and to stay in touch with me and I would call her if I needed. She asked me if I would tell John at work and I said I would.

      

       She waved Rob over and when he walked up, he said, “I need to go with, Ryan.” She kissed both of us on the cheek and we left.

       We got in the car and he took my hand kissing my palm. “You can stop now, Ryan. I’m going to be ok.”

      

       I asked him if he was sure and he nodded yes.

I backed out of the driveway and when we were on the road I took his hand again, and our fingers intertwined.

      

       I was pulling back, I had been shielding his heart and he started too slid again. “Are you sure, Robby?” I asked.

      

       With tears in his eyes, he nodded and I squeezed his hand as I felt his tears burning in my eyes.

       I kept pulling back. I stopped when his head started spinning and he was now truly crying, like the night at the hospital. When we pulled in the driveway I let go of his hand. He got out of the car and walked straight to our room and lay on the bed and cried.

       I followed him and went right to my stash and rolled a heavily laced joint. I grabbed a cigarette and walked out on the deck and lit it up. I wanted to give him a little time to process.

       When I finished my smoke I went back into the bedroom; Rob had taken off his clothes and put on his robe. He was holding the Picture of us, tears still rolling down his face. He was thinking of me, what we had, and I could feel his love for me, and his guilt for taking what I gave him.

       He was on his own now; I wasn’t helping him at all. I could feel him in my head; he wasn’t screaming, but he was struggling. I told him to take the joint out and smoke it, handing him a lighter. I took off my clothes and put my robe on and joined him.

       I asked if he wanted to do the hot tub and he nodded yes. I pulled the cover off; he slid in, and I followed. We smoked more than half the joint that would have fried five people and he seemed like he had had enough. He took my hand and held it. He just looked at me.

       He said, “You can’t hang on to it, Ryan. You need to let it go.” I knew what he meant but it didn’t work like that with me. I had never done this before.

I told him I couldn’t do it like he could. He tried to put his hand on my heart like he had done before, but I stopped him. He would know what I had done.

       “Ryan, it’s not your pain, it’s mine. Give it back or let it go, please,” he begged.

       “You don’t want this back, Rob, trust me, it just takes longer for me and this is big.” I assured him. He told me I had done this before, I had saved him some how; he recognized it by the way it felt.

      

       He asked, “How can we do this, Ryan?”

       I said, “You need to tell me how you do it, Rob; when you take my pain and sadness, how do you not keep it, how do you just let it go?”

      

       He said, “Close your eyes Ryan,” in the softest voice. I could feel him squeezing my hand and then he put his hand on my heart. He knew immediately. He could feel what I had done. “Ryan, what did you do? Why, Ryan? Why did you do that? Take it back, Ryan,” he pleaded.

       “I can’t, it’s yours now, Robby. It was always yours. I think I’ve been holding it for you.”

      

       I could feel his hand on my heart; it was getting warm, almost hot. In a soft voice, he said, “Let it go, Ryan, give it back.” It felt like what I can only describe as a vacuum. He was taking it back; sucking it right out of my heart like he had before.

       He was crying again, I could feel his pain building. I took his hand off my chest and kissed it, he was taking more than he could handle and I knew it. I could feel him trying to let it go. I think because it was his, it was much harder for him too. He could do it for me because he loved me so much; but at that moment, he didn’t love himself enough.

       He felt he deserved it, like it was a punishment for being alive. We sat for a long time and he just cried. This was killing me and I started helping him again. He could feel it and told me to stop.

       “Robby, don’t do this to yourself. You’re not alone, we can share it.”

       I put my hand on his chest and could feel the extension of my heart, beating in his chest. “I can feel it, Rob.” He said he felt when it happened but didn’t know what it was, but he instantly felt stronger.

       He said, “Rye, you have to promise me you will never do that again.”

       I shook my head, “I’m sorry, Robby, I can’t do that.”

      

       I asked if he wanted to go to bed and he nodded. We walked back into our room and he picked up the picture of us again. “Ryan, I would die if anything ever happened to you.” I told him that wouldn’t happen.

       He questioned, “You know I would wait for you, don’t you?” I told him I didn’t understand. He said, “If I go first, Ryan, I will wait for you, so we can go to heaven together. If you go first, just walk slow, and I’ll catch up.” I felt my eyes start to burn.

                           From the Author:

 

       We never saw this coming. Life can be so fucked up. We wanted to be together; probably would have done most anything to make that happen, but we sure as hell never wanted this. Robby suffered tremendously, it almost broke him. Hell; it almost broke me, but our love for each other, what we shared, made us stronger, so we could deal with the other shit life had to throw at us.

       What happened that day; what I did for him, and what he did for me, defined who and what we were to each other. I became physically connected to him, and it allowed me to protect him when needed but it was at a cost for me. Sylvia was right. Robby is fragile. I carried what he couldn’t, and my body shared the burden of his.

 

       I am going to do something I have never seen a writer do. I will offer you the choice to stop here and just wait for the next chapter. If you continue, it will be sad, you may not want to read it, and I would understand. If I have been successful, if you feel you know us, and care for us, you won’t want to read it, but something tells me you will.

       We brushed our teeth and I got into bed first; I held out my arm for him. I had wanted to hold him for hours; he climbed in and assumed his position. Our bodies melted together and I could feel his tears on my chest, and I comforted him as best I could.

       He was drained emotionally and fell asleep pretty fast. I, on the other hand, couldn’t. I held him all night, not sleeping, my mind going back to what he said before bed.

       It had been light for a while when I felt him move a little and felt more tears on my chest. These tears were for me. He was afraid, afraid something would happen to me, I could feel his fear.

       Within a few minutes, I felt him sliding into a deep depression, I tried to help and he lifted his head and looked at me. “Rye, you need to let me do this on my own.” As hard as it was, I pulled back and let him share it with me.

       His mind drifted back to Fredericksburg and he sat by the river and wept. He knew I was with him and we stayed there for a long time. It was almost 11 and he had been like that for hours.

       The phone rang and he pulled out of it, saying I should answer it. I walked into the sitting room and picked it up. To my surprise, it was John. He had heard about Walt and being a business man, he wanted to meet with me later today at the office to talk about what we were going to do. I told him I could meet him there at 4 and hung up.

       Knowing there was going to be a funeral, I called Josh. I explained what had happened and he needed to put together a suit and trench coat for Rob.

       I called Deb to see how she and the kids were and told her Rob was doing as well as could be expected. I heard the shower turn on and I told her goodbye.

       I stood at the shower, looking at him. He seemed smaller, more child-like, I felt so sorry for him, and tears filled my eyes. He was just letting the water run over him, I wished it could wash his sorrow away.

       I heard him say, “I can feel it, Ryan. I can feel what you did for me.” I hung up my robe and walked up behind wrapping my arms around him. He turned and rested his head on me.

       “I love you so much Ryan.” He put his hand on my chest and said “I wish you wouldn’t have done it, Ryan. I can feel the difference.” He looked up at me and his eyes got big as he focused on my face.

       He brushed hair from my face just as Sylvia had done and I felt his tears as he said, “you shouldn’t have done it Rye. Have you looked in the mirror?” I shook my head no.

       I told him he needed it more than I. I kept the part that loved him and that was all I needed.

I asked if he wanted to go home today and he shook his head no. “Can I stay with you, Ryan? I want to live here. I want home to be where you are.” I felt what was left of my heart grow. He was giving back in the form of his admission how much I meant to him.

       I thought of how I could make that happen. “Nothing would make me happier Robby, but I don’t.”

       He looked deeper and said, “Please Ryan. I can’t go back there.” I told him if I could make it happen, I would. That cheered him up a little.

       I told him that it was John on the phone and I had a meeting with him at 4. I thought he needed to call Deb and talk to her, adding, nothing about living here until after the funeral.

       We got out of the shower and I looked in the mirror; my eyes grew as I took in the sight then were met by his. Over night a shock of white hair had developed in my bangs. I turned to him and he ran his fingers through my hair again and he said, “You can never do that again, Ryan.”

       I ignored him as he put his robe on and I got dressed. I called Millie’s and ordered a couple sandwiches to go. I called my mom and told her what had happened and that Rob was going to stay with us for a while.

       I got back with lunch and we sat at the bar and ate in silence. He said he was going to call Deb when I went to meet John. I asked if there was anybody else he wanted to call and he shook his head no.

       He was looking at his plate and said, “She Knew when she saw us Friday night. She was warning us; warning me, wasn’t she?” I hadn’t really thought about it but it made sense. I just shrugged my shoulders. I rolled another and told Rob I wasn’t going to smoke until I got home.

       I walked into John’s office and sat down. We had only met a few times. His look was puzzling as he stared at me, and then I remembered my hair. He asked if I could handle things until he found a replacement for Walt. I thought about it for a minute.

      

       “I’ll tell you what, John; I will make you a proposition. I will take over for Walt. You will pay me $3750 a month for the next four months. In that time; I will increase our sales by 10% and if I don’t, I will walk.” I knew Walt was skimming off the top so that wouldn’t be a problem.

       “If I’m successful, at the end or 4 months you will raise my wage to $4500 a month and give me three weeks of paid vacation.” I told him I wanted to give all the guys raises and I wanted to cross train them so everybody could do all the jobs.

      

       I needed an advertising budget and I wanted to close down for Christmas. He looked at me and said I was cocky, but he liked that. He pondered my proposal and said, “Deal.”

       I told him fine and said if Walt’s funeral was on a weekday I wanted to close and allow all the guys to go with pay. Again he said, deal. I shook his hand saying I would see him in the morning.

       I drove home and found Rob in the hot tub with half a joint sitting next to him, he was baked. He didn’t seem as grief stricken as before. He looked at me and said, “There’s room for you.”

      

       I asked him about Deb then asked, “What about school?” He said Deb was a mess and didn’t know what she was going to do. As for school, she said he could take the week off. He had already planned to be gone because of the hunting trip. She said if it was ok, he could stay with me. He told me the funeral was tentatively planned for next Monday.

       I told him about my meeting with John, and I would be taking over for Walt. I told him part of the deal was that we close for Christmas; hoping to get some kind of reaction.

       I went in and took off my clothes, grabbed my robe, and joined his stoned ass in the hot tub. I asked if he would consider changing schools so he could live here. He said, “If that’s what it takes.”

       I asked what he had been doing, and got, “nothing.” Do you want to go out for dinner or eat here? “That’s fine” I couldn’t tell if it was the weed, or if he was just shutting down.

I found his hand under the water and weaved my fingers between his. I waited to see what he would do.

       “Do you want to talk Rob?” That was a big mistake. It was like a wall came tumbling down and I could feel it all.

       He looked at me and started, “You know I felt that deer die. The only reason I am alive is because Walt made me kill that poor deer. How fucked up is that? I felt it die and I’m alive, now he’s dead.” I moved over a little closer.

       “You know there was nothing left of the, they were in pieces. I should have been in that camper with them. Because I killed that deer, I’m sitting here.”

       I figured Deb must have gone into detail and I wasn’t up to speed. He was so confused and sliding down hill, fast.

       I picked up the roach and took a few puffs. “How long have you been in here Rob?”

       “It stood there. It waited for me to shoot it. Why would it do that?” Tears were streaming down his face. “Why would it do that Ryan?” His tears were burning in my eyes now.

       “Rob, we have to cool you down a little.” I pulled him up and we sat on the edge.

       “It wasn’t even 50 feet away and it just stood there. Even with Walt screaming at me; the gun was so loud.” Tears were just running down our faces and he started to shiver and so did I.

       “Robby, we need to get you in the shower.” I stood him up wrapping his robe around him and walked him into the house. He stood in front of the mirror well I was adjusting the water.

He still looked hot as fuck, but the inside was all wrong. The colors around him were so different

I took his robe off him and moved him under the warm water.

       “I would have been in pieces, but I shot that stupid fucking deer. It should have run. Why didn’t it? I don’t understand why the fucking thing didn’t run.”

       This seemed to be more about that deer than anything else. He was trying to blame the deer for him being alive, or for not being dead.

       I walked him out, dried him off, and put him in bed. I pulled him over so he could cuddle up to me. He was starting to worry me.

       “I had to watch him cut it up. He cut it up in pieces. STOP IT RYAN, stop it now.”

       “I am just trying to help you, Rob”

       “You have done too much for me Ryan.” I could have helped him, even if he didn’t want it, but I didn’t.

       “Robby, let’s do what we did yesterday. You need to focus. Come with me. Feel my heart beat. Feel my breathing. Breathe with me Rob.”

       I matched my breathing with his and could feel his heart beating. I was slowing my breathing down and I told him “slow your heart down Rob, match it to our breathing, now think about the tree, listen to the breeze in the leaves.”

       I could feel him relaxing; the weight of his body getting heavier on me. “Listen to the water and the birds. Can you hear them? Can you smell the flowers? Just breathe and listen to the sounds.”

       We were there again, under the tree, his head on my lap and my hand resting on his heart. I wasn’t helping him, he was stronger there. I was letting him feel the love I had for him while trying to hold back the sadness that was in my heart.

       He fell asleep on me. He slept on me under the tree all night and we were like that until morning.

I must have slept a little but when I opened my eyes, I felt exhausted. I was going to have to get up soon but I didn’t want to leave Rob alone.

       I pulled him a little tighter to me and heard him say, “Thank you, Ryan.”

       He told me he was disappointed when he opened his eyes and he wasn’t under the tree anymore. He added that this was nice, though.

       I told him I needed to go to work today but I didn’t want to leave him alone. He thought about it for a minute and asked if he could go with me.

       I said, “Yes,” before he even finished asking.

       He said he felt better and thanked me again and the alarm went off. We got up, dressed, and went to Millie’s for breakfast.

       He was better; I could tell he was still depressed, but nothing like last night. We finished our meal and went to work. I could tell when we walked in the office; Rob looked around and said, “I can smell him, Ryan.” He was right. I could too.

       I told him I was going up to make coffee for the guys and he could sit here. I went up and got the coffee started and the guys started coming in one by one.

       I waited until they all got there and told them to all to come back to the fire I had started in the big burner we had. I broke the news to them that Walt was dead, I had negotiated a deal with John, and I was the boss now.

       I told them I hoped they didn’t have a problem with that and they all shook their heads no. I told them there were going to be some changes, some they would like and some they might not.

       I continued and said that Rob was staying with me, he was down in the office; he was just going to do whatever he wanted today. I told them he was having a real hard time and I didn’t know what to expect. I thought if he was able to do something to occupy his mind, he would be better off.

       Their reactions differed. They all seemed to feel bad about Walt, but they all liked Robby and shared my concern for him. I gave them a little info on what had happened telling them it wasn’t pretty.

       I explained that the funeral was tentatively planned for next Monday; we would close and they would all be paid, adding that I expected all of them to be there.

       I told them I had to go talk to John and if Rob wanted, he would come up, but I didn’t know. I asked that they just act as normal as possible and told them to go to work.

       I went back down to what was now, my office and found Rob sitting in Walt’s chair. I asked if he was ok and he nodded his head. I told him he could do whatever he wanted and that I had told the guys.

      

       Dave walked in the door, he told Rob he was sorry and grabbed the clipboard and walked back out.

Rob said he was going to go up and pull green chain with Bear. I told him I needed to talk to John some more and, he could do whatever he wanted.

       He got up out of Walt’s chair; came over to me, and hugged me. I saw Dave standing outside the door and he just turned and walked away. Rob pulled away and asked, “We don’t have to start calling you boss, do we”?

I smiled at him and said, “I think supreme leader sounded better.” He smiled and thought that was pretty funny.

       He walked to the door and said, “You better go take to John, Skate,” and smiled again.

       I met with John and told him I had talked to the guys; told them that they would be paid for the day, and about some of the changes I wanted to make. He was receptive to all of my suggestions and I went back to my office.

       A little before our break; I walked back up to the shop. I just stood and watched all the guys; I could hear Bear bantering with Rob and I could tell that this was the best thing for him.

       I took break with them; we all tried to keep the conversation light, nobody saying anything about Walt and for the moment, Rob seemed to be normal. They all went back to work and I just watched them for a while.

       Here I was; seventeen and a half, and I was now in charge. I didn’t think I had bitten off more than I could chew, but, it was going to be a challenge. I had Rob and even in his condition, he was all I really cared about.

       I spent the rest of the day checking prices on advertising; John had agreed to a twenty-five hundred dollar budget and I wanted to get the most bang for my buck.

       I spent a lot of time talking with regular customers about Walt and what had happened.

It had been on the news but none of the names had been released.

       I noticed that a lot of them were wearing company coats with logos and company names and numbers on them and it gave me an idea.

       I got the name of a place that did that from one of the guys, he said they were reasonable.

The day just flew by and Rob walked in the office as the guys were leaving.

       He looked at me and asked if the “Supreme leader” was ready to go and it made me laugh.

       I had called Harold and asked if Miss Brown had a reservation for this week and he said she had a standing reservation for Friday at 7.

       I told him I wanted one also and gave a brief explanation of what was happening and that I wouldn’t have the time to work with him but I had some plans I would bring with me on Friday for him to look at.

       I thought maybe if Rob could talk to her it might help him. We left work and stopped by the store and loaded up on TV dinners and some other stuff to have in the house to eat.

       With distractions, Rob was kind of like his old self and it did me good to see him like that. Without distractions, well that was a different matter.

       We got home and I twisted one up; we sat on the deck and smoked about half of it and then put a couple TV dinners in the oven.

       My mom came home while we were eating and sat down and talked with us and tried to motherly comfort Rob. She liked him and, if for no other reason than I loved him; she accepted him and treated him just like me.

       I followed her into her room and told her what was going on at work and was a little proud of myself and she was too. I knew what she was thinking and she reached and brushed over the white in my hair and asked what happened. I just shrugged and shook my head.

       She asked what I was doing with Harold; I told her of my plans to invest and do an addition. She looked at me and said I was growing up too fast.

       I found Rob in our room looking at the picture again. I could see his attempts at rolling in the Frisbee; I took it and sat down on the corner of the bed and told him to watch me, watch how I roll.

       I twisted it up in about thirty seconds; he shook his head in amazement at my skill. I distracted him by putting another bud in the Frisbee and told him to practice.

       I told him I had rolled hundreds and he would be able to in a few years. It worked, and after a half an hour, he proudly produced a number that would have smoked, if you were desperate.

      

       He held it up and I did an inspection and congratulated him; then tore it up and told him to do it again, after we smoked the one I rolled. He told me that was mean and followed me to the sitting room.

       It was getting too cold outside to sit comfortably on the deck so, I cracked the door and we blazed up in there. I told him about my coat idea and getting one for each of the guys with their names on it. He liked that a lot and asked how ‘Supreme leader’ was going to fit on mine. He got a kick out of that and I did too.

       I told him I was going to order business cards and asked him what I should use for my name. He thought about it for a minute and said RJ. I told him RJ it is and asked if he was ready for a shower.

       He nodded and we got undressed and got in the shower. I was thinking how much better he was compared to last night. In spite of everything, I knew if I washed him, I wouldn’t be able to hide my attraction to him so; I washed his hair and let him wash the rest of himself.

       He did the same to me but, he washed all of me. When we were done; we just stayed under the water. Before we turned the water off; he pulled my forehead down to his, he didn’t say anything but, we were kind of having another moment.

       It was going on nine so, we brushed our teeth and got into bed. He said that last night worked pretty good and could we do it again. He got comfortable on me and then he asked; “Ryan, what if your mom comes in and sees us”? I told him that she hadn’t checked on me since I was twelve.

       I think my mom new but, didn’t think she would want to confirm her suspicions by checking. He had his arm over me and I picked up his hand and kissed it and told him sweet dreams.

       Silently we went through our exercise that took us to our happy place. He fell asleep soon after; I took the opportunity to roam around in his head. I wanted to know how that deer fit into the whole thing.

       I had never tried this on him before; not well he was asleep. I don’t know if he was dreaming or not but, what I saw were snapshots of us. Everything I saw, I remembered; from the first time he saw me, the parties, the fourth, our trip and his birthday.

       I could feel how happy he was; I could feel and see all of it from his view, how he saw it all and how it made him feel. He truly loved me and it seemed that all his happy memories had me in them. I could feel my heart grow a little more.

       I didn’t sleep much and the alarm woke both of us. We got up and like the day before we dressed, ate at Millie’s, and went to work. I told him again not to say anything to the guys about the coats or anything.

       After the guys went to work; I went out to get Dave and brought him in my office. I told him he needed to step up and be what I knew he could be.

I told him; he was going to be getting a raise, that the deal I made with John was for four months, and I was going to need everybody's help to pull this off.

       I explained, “When we talk, it’s between us and I expected it to stay that way,”

       He told me he understood and then he paused, and said, “Robby” I just nodded and he walked out the door.

       Rob was doing well; work was distracting him and keeping his mind busy, I even caught him laughing a few times. We went home; like the night before, I made him practice rolling and each time he did a good job, I would tear it up and tell him to do it again. That too was a distraction that was working.

       We were falling into a routine like we had before; he acted like he was at home; he would clean up after him self, help me make the bed, and took pride in his surroundings. We ate TV dinners and showered. We smoked a little more and got into bed.

      

       We did as we had the last few night; Rob laying on me with my arm around him and his head on my chest. I had put on some music and Rob started twirling his finger around my nipple. “Ryan, I know what you did last night” ‘Stutter.’ “It’s ok, Ryan; I don’t think I could shut you out even if I wanted, did you find what you were looking for?”

       I kissed the top of his head; “You know I did Rob," and said, "Sweet dream.” I matched my breathing to his and hummed to the music and he was out. I don’t think I had had eight hours sleep in the last four days but again, sleep was not my friend.

       I woke up to the alarm clock, feeling like I hadn’t slept at all. Rob, on the other hand, slept great and, seemed to be wide awake and full of piss and vinegar. I had watched over him all night.

       We were eating breakfast at Millie’s and I asked Rob if he wanted to go to dinner at the Gentleman Friday night. He said he would be tired of TV dinners by then, I didn’t tell him. We got to work well before any of the other guys; he built a fire and I made the coffee.

When all the guys showed up, I shared some of my plans to improve productivity; about me wanting all of them, to be able to do all the jobs and said that includes you, Bear. I told them they could work it out but, I wanted to see some rotation going on.

       I went down to my office and got on the phone. I ordered my cards; I was meeting with the coat people and had a short meeting with John. I was dragging and popped a couple cross tops; they were my little helpers until I was able to get a good nights sleep. Dave came in and I asked if he would work Saturday and who he wanted to work with him.

I told him that the cross training applied to him too. He said Saturday wasn’t a problem and he thought Dan would be his first choice. I told him he was doing a good job and I trusted his judgment. I had learned early one that, a pat on the back goes a long way.

       I had talked to Deb and she confirmed that the service was Monday at 1; it was being held at a school and was a mass funeral for all six of them.

I told her that Rob was doing better and I would have him there at noon.

       I caught the guys at the end of the day and shared the news with them adding it was a paid day.

I made the offer to buy breakfast for anybody that showed up at Millie’s on Friday morning. That was well received.

       Rob and I locked up and left for home. I told him that I wanted to soak tonight and I was already tired of TV dinners. He said if you roll a joint, I’ll make waffles. That fucking floored me.

       We both did our jobs well; it was a nice change and, I was more than ready for the hot tub. Rob got in on the lounger and motioned for me to lay back on him. He put his arms around my chest and rested his cheek on mine.

       I was listening to him and, the next thing I know, he was waking me up. I had crashed on him.

We brushed our teeth and Rob beat me to bed. He held out his arm for me; motioning me to cuddle up to him. I got into my favorite position and within a few minutes, I was asleep.

       We both woke to the alarm and, I felt like I actually got good nights sleep. The mornings were becoming routine and I told Millie that there was a good chance that we would have a dozen guys joining us for breakfast tomorrow.

       I asked Rob about school and, if he had given any thought to changing schools and, how we were going to approach Deb on him moving in with me.

I had already been formulating a plan; I could adjust if he wanted to stay in his school until the end of the year.

       We got to work like always; about half an hour before the guys. Deb called me; she told me she wanted Rob to come home Sunday; she wanted them to go to the service as a family, there were people who were going to be at her house that she knew would want to see him.

       I said I would bring him home Sunday around noon. I told her; Josh put together a suit for Rob and I would make sure he brought it with him. I told her again that anything I could do, all she had to do was ask.

       It turned out to be a good day; I had no need for my helpers, sales were good, and the guys were doing just like I asked and seemed to be having a little fun.

Rob came down to my office about a half hour before the end of the day.

       He sat down in the chair across from me; he looked at me and grinned, then the little fucker put his feet, dirty boots and all, on my desk. I was a little anal about my desk and he knew it. I looked him in the eyes; straight faced, and said, “Really,” and I waited. I said, “Get your fucking feet off my desk Jr.”

       “Or what; Whatcha gonna do if I don’t, Supreme Leader,” and that gave him a huge grin.

       I couldn’t help but smile; I said, “You’re fired” and we both broke up laughing. I leaned across and slapped his feet off and said, so what’s up Jr. as I leaned back in my chair and put my feet up on the desk. I looked at him and said, “What; it’s my fucking desk.”

       He said, “Nothing, you haven’t been up in the shop since this morning; I just wanted to come down here with you.” He was acting like his old self and I was started to worry that he was at the top of the emotional roller coaster, I wasn’t looking forward to him hitting the bottom again, and I knew he would.

       I knew that he wouldn’t like the idea of going home on Sunday and I didn’t want to break that to him yet. He watched me while I was going over the inventory. I told him I couldn’t make heads or tails of how Walt was doing shit and I was going to have to count every board in the whole fucking yard.

       He just shrugged and kept looking at me with a smile. He said, “You slept good last night didn’t you?” I told him I did, and I needed it and hoped I got another good one tonight.

       I told him we weren’t working Saturday and asked if there was anything he wanted to do. He shrugged again. I looked at the clock and took my feet down, not wanting any of the guys see me big headed.

       We locked up and I said, how about we go to Wendy’s for take out and he was all over that. We got it to go, and went home. He told me that all of the guys were coming to breakfast in the morning. He said they were all going to have steak and eggs, saying they wanted to cost me a butt load.

       He smiled at me and said, “I wanted to tell them that you could buy the whole state, steak and egg and have enough left for a good tip.”

       I told him he obviously didn’t know what a dollar could buy and told him he was getting paid for work this week and said Monday too.

       He smiled at me and then it faded; he said; Walt had taken all his money from him this summer to save for a car. He got quite and I could see that the distractions were wearing off.

       I looked at him and asked “how many cars do I have”? He said, “Three.” I said, actually I have five, but how many can I drive at once? Don’t sweat the small shit Jr. you’ll have your license in no time and you’ll have something to drive.

       That got me a smile but I was expecting a little more. Distraction time. Ok Rob, I want you to roll me a perfect joint and, I’m going to time you. We went into the sitting room; it had become our smoking room and he went at it.

       I sat down at the piano and he sat in the love seat; I played and he rolled. I was just fucking around, playing random shit and I broke out in, Jerry Lee Lewis, Great Balls of Fire.

      

       I got into it; it sounded real good with a band behind me, but I think it was pretty good, solo. He had stopped rolling and was tapping his foot and smiling at me. Distraction!

       When I finished, I gave him shit about not even having weed in the paper yet and we would just have to use the bong. He smiled at me and asked, “How long before I get to the middle of that onion, Ryan?”

I told him it would take a life time; maybe longer, and I hoped I always gave him reason to peel another layer away.

       I went into the bedroom and got the hash and he got the bong. A couple good hits and we were on our way to red eye. It was 8:00 and I said shower and bed? He nodded and we crawled to the bedroom and got undressed. It consisted of us standing up against the walls and letting the water run over us.

       We dried off and got in bed. Again he held his arm out for me to get into my favorite place.

I rested my leg on his heavy crotch and had we not been so wasted I think something might have happened.

       We were breathing together and I asked “You’re not spying on me in my sleep; are you?”

       “I’m always there, Rye,” and he kissed my forehead.

       Like the morning before, I woke to the alarm and Rob reached up and turned it off. He said you were talking in your sleep. I said; I hope I didn’t tell you where I buried my money, and he laughed.

       We got up, dressed, and headed to Millie’s. We got there before any of the guys and in a few minutes they strolled in one at a time. Within five minutes, they had all arrived.

       I told them, what ever they wanted, was fine. Sure enough, most ordered the most expensive things on the menu. As they were eating, I told them that the first of December, they all would be getting raises.

I told them that, together, we were going to grow the company and we would have fun in the process.

       There eyes got big when Millie brought the check thinking I would be shocked. To be a show off, I pulled out a small roll of hundreds and peeled off a couple and handed them to Millie and said keep the change. Rob was smiling and I looked at him and said I got off easy compared to your birthday.

       The sun was shining when we got to work; I told Dave, I was going to be out in the yard taking inventory and I wanted him to take care of things.

I was counting away and came to the slings that I had noticed Walt going to. I started digging around and found a lunch box. I looked around and then I opened it.

       Walt had been stashing his skimming’s; there was over seven thousand dollars in it. I walked down to my car and put it in the trunk. What a fucking Dilemma. I finished my work just before the end of the day and most of the guys stopped in my office and thanked me for breakfast.

       Rob came in and sat down; I could tell the distractions weren’t working anymore. We went home and cleaned up for dinner, and it was obvious he was on his way down. He had become quite again and I could feel him struggling.

       We got to the restaurant and were seated at our table. I saw Miss Brown come in and she walked right passed Harold straight to our table.

We both stood and she reached up and ran her hand over my white locks like she had done the week before.

       She took Rob’s hand and we asked her to join us as she sat next to Rob. His head was swimming with questions and she was looking at me. Sylvia had a way of looking deeper than your eyes. You could feel it.

       Rob turned to her and asked, “Why?” She studied him and then said, “It was an intervention honey. The deer was a sacrifice. You are here for a reason. It wasn’t your time yet.”

       He asked her what that was, and she looked at me. “You were spared for him, child. Ryan has so much love in him honey; this needed to happen for him to realize that.

       He needed to make that sacrifice also. You know he would have given it all to you, don’t you Robert?”

Rob nodded his head and our eyes started to fill with tears. She said; “He knew you didn’t hate him Robert, his last thoughts were of you. He was thankful you weren’t with him”

       The tears were rolling down our faces and I could feel what he was. She told him his road was going to be difficult, “But Ryan will be there for you, he always has.” She stood and Rob wanted more answers, he thought she could give them to him. He said, “You knew last week didn’t you, you were warning me.”

       She told him he might see it that way, but everything happens for a reason. She let go of his hand and said goodbye. I told the waitress that we needed our food to go. I reached over for Rob’s hand and said, “We needed to go, Robby.”

       I could tell he wouldn’t be able to hold it together much longer. We got in the car and drove home in silence. When we got home, Rob went out on the deck and I left him to try and sort out what was in his head.

       I gave him about thirty minutes and went out and sat by him. He was shivering and I put my arm around him and pulled him next to me. “I don’t think I can do this, Ryan” I told him it wasn’t something he had to do by himself, we would do it together.

       We went in and went to bed without eating. We didn’t talk; I reached out for him and he molded himself into me. We went to the tree by the river and he fell asleep with his head in my lap.

       I woke up and before I even opened my eyes; I knew he wasn’t next to me. I peed and put on my robe then went to look for him. He was on the deck, smoking a cigarette. He was choking it down, and I just watched.

       His guilt and sadness had come back. I could feel all of it. As if feeling me, he turned his head, and I could see the tears. I could hear him in my head. I walked out and tried to reassure him, we were going to be ok.

       He came back in and we lay together most of the day and I told him that Deb wanted him to come home tomorrow. He knew he needed to do this and he knew I would be there for him. We ate our leftovers for dinner and went to bed.

       The next day wasn’t any better; we went by josh’s store, picked up his suit, and I took him home. I could feel the growing depression in him; just being there was dragging him down.

       I went in and was introduced to people and Rob went to his room. I went down and he was packing his stuff and told me he was going to tell Deb after the funeral tomorrow. I went home and was dreading tomorrow.

       I arrived at the school and found a seat with the rest of the guys. I could see Deb with the kids; one on each side and Drew sitting on the other side.

Rob looked great in his suit and trench coat. We matched but my suit was gray with black pin stripes. His was black with shiny black pin striping.

       He didn’t see me but I could feel him searching. He was becoming hysterical and I saw Deb looking behind her. She made eye contact with me and motioned me to come up.

       The closer to Rob I got, I could feel his anguish and when I sat down next to him, he completely lost it. I put my arm around him pulling his head to my shoulder and slipped my hand under his jacket resting it on his heart.

       What we had was probably clearly visible to everyone, but we didn’t care. I heard him say “No Rye, you can’t”

       I pulled him closer and whispered in his ear “You can’t stop me Robby” I built a wall around us and started talking in his ear. I was reminding him how much I loved him and he could feel it. Within a few minutes he was calming, but I never took my hand off him.

       The service was long; the whole place was filled with grief, but I was focused on Rob. I never let go of him and rode with them to the cemetery. That was the worst thing I had ever been through in my life. I told Deb that Rob was going to come home with me and as bad as it was, he should go to school on Wednesday, and I would take him.

       She didn’t argue. I explained what he was going through, and how being at her house just brought him down. I posed the question that maybe it would be best for him to stay with me for a week or two until he was better. She didn’t like the idea but wanted what was best for Rob.

       I wanted what was best for him too, but I wanted what was best for me as well. So Robby came home with me. We took our suits off and dressed in our sleep pants and robes. We smoked a little and sat in the hot tub.

       He turned and straddled me then rested his hands on my shoulders. He shook his head and I said, “It’s just hair, Robby. I don’t think it’s going to stay this way.”

       “You shouldn’t have done that today, Rye. It’s bigger than yesterday,” and he kissed that spot of hair.

       I told him he could go to work with me tomorrow but he needed to go back to school on Wednesday. He seemed ok with that and we talked about the funeral.

       My plan was that I would take him to school every day and would pick him up at Deb’s when I got off work. I was hoping that with the funeral behind us; Rob might start getting back to normal.

       We made TV dinners and went to bed early. We talked a lot in bed; he was still guilt ridden about the fight with Walt and the fact that he was alive so I could make my sacrifice for him.

       I had my arms around him and I told him I knew he was building walls and asked why he was trying to block me out. He avoided my question and asked how long he could stay with me. I told him we had a week or two and by then we could approach Deb about making it permanent.

       I asked if he was sure that that was what he wanted and his answer was a resounding yes. He looked at me and asked if that’s what I wanted.

It surprised me that he would think I didn’t want him with me.

       I told him I couldn’t even think what life would be like without him. And he was so much a part of me now that sometimes I couldn’t tell what thoughts were his and what was mine.

       I didn’t want now to be the time we got realistic and allow ourselves to think about, what if Deb wouldn’t allow him to move in with me permanently.

“Robby, please don’t build walls to keep me out, I would never do that to you. What don’t you want me to see?” He rolled up on top of me and rested his forehead on mine.

       “I don’t know what to do, Rye.”

       “Don’t block me out, Robby. We can do this together, I can help you.” I could feel him letting me in a little, his mind was all jumbled up.

       “After all of this, Ryan; I’m afraid something will happen to you and I don’t know what I would do.” I slid him over so he was lying on my side to relieve some of the pressure he was putting on my dick. It was having an affect on me that was not appropriate for the moment, but I couldn’t help it.

       I told him he couldn’t let those thoughts rule him; I had no plans on leaving him alone. That seemed to be what was going through his mind, he was afraid of being alone, or without me.

       I told him that after everything we had been through, I didn’t think that the master plan was to leave one of us alone. I opened my mind to him and asked him to take me somewhere, somewhere we were happy. I knew where he was happiest; it was under our willow tree in Fredericksburg.

       Under that tree there was no sadness, no pain, just the love we had for each other. He made love to me there, we were so connected it was as if we were one. I woke in the morning alone and found him on the deck smoking a cigarette. I joined him questioning why he felt he needed to smoke.

       Again I could tell he was blocking me, he was constructing places’ I couldn’t see in and I could tell he was trying to protect me, or keeping me from helping him. He was stronger than I when it came to that, I couldn’t stop him from seeing in my head, but he could.

       I decided that maybe he should go back to school today instead of tomorrow if for no other reason than to try and get things back to normal. He got up, went into his room, and got dressed for school without me saying a word.

       He came back to our room as I was getting ready for work and asked me if I was going to feed him before I took him to school.

I told him how hot he looked and that got me a little smile. I said, “Yes, good enough to eat.” I told him I would take him to Millie’s and asked what he wanted me to drop him off in.

       He said, “The truck,” and we walked to the garage. We talked over breakfast and he said that going back to school would probably be the best thing and that getting back into a routine would keep his mind occupied.

       He hadn’t gotten into drivers ed this quarter and I told him we could do a privet school and he could have his license in a couple months and that made him happy.

       I told him I would check into it today and then said that there was a chance that Deb wouldn’t let him move in with me and because she was his guardian, it was up to her.

       He said that we had gotten spoiled again and if she didn’t let him stay; he didn’t know what he was going to do. I told him that we wouldn’t think about that right now and we would just be happy for now.

                      

                         From the Author:

 

       I gave you the option and here we are. I have been successful. You feel the love, don’t you, my anonymous friends? It is true; that, which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. And that’s what it did for us. It made us stronger for what lay further down the road of life.

       I will tell you things get better, but I would like you to think about a few things all so. I dropped out of school when I did. I stepped far outside my comfort zone and went to work at the lumber mill of all places and found Robby. My grandfather died when he did. Rob went to Virginia with me and we found the clues. The deer didn’t run and Robby shot it. Because he did, he lived. Walt died the next weekend and Robby didn’t. If any one of those things had not happened when they did, we would not be where we are now. That is some heavy shit, don’t you think. Now, comes my challenge: I want your comments.

 

Skate

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