John and Dotty Davis as well as Josh rushed to the ICU cubicle Brad was in. Just as the arrived, a nurse came rushing by with the 'crash cart', used when there is cardiac arrest.
Another nurse approached and told them to return to the waiting room. 'There is nothing you can do here. Someone will be out to talk to you as soon as possible.' She practically shoved the three of them out the door. Reluctantly, they returned to the waiting room.
As they entered, John and Dotty walked to a small round table nd sat down. As Josh began to pace, John looked ant him and said, 'Josh, come sit down. There is something we need to talk about.'
Josh sat at the table and looking at Dotty then John, asked, 'What's wrong?'
'It's about you and Brad and your relationship,' John said.
Josh'e heart began racing as he said, 'What do you mean, sir?'
'Josh, when Brad called the night the rodeo closed and told us that he had won, he also told us a lot more. We had noticed in his voice the last few weeks that he sounded much happier and at ease. We asked what had changed in his life to bring it about. That's when he revealed to us that he was gay and that he had hopefully found his life partner. He never gave us a name, but when he began asking for Josh, we knew that had to be who he was involved with.'
'I see,' replied Josh. 'May I ask exactly what he said?'
'He told us that for the first time in his life, he was finally happy and that he had fallen deeply in love, although it was with another man. We asked if the other man felt the same way and he said that he was fairly sure he did. He asked if we could accept he and 'his partner', as he put it, as a couple. We told him that he was our son and we'd always love him unconditionally regardless of his sexual orientation and if the love between he and the other man was sincere and strong, we'd welcome him into the family just as we would if Brad had married a woman.'
John paused and looked at Josh.
'And you're wanting to know how I feel about Brad, aren't you?'
'Yes, we are,' John replied.
'First, my driving straight through to get here should tell you something about how I feel about him. To lay all my cards on the table, I love him with all my heart and soul. He is my life and I'd do anything in my power for him if he needed it.'
'That's all we wanted to know. when he comes out of this, I think he needs to be told just how you feel.'
'Believe me sir, I definately intend to do just that. And thank you for accepting our relationship so readily. I just hope my folks do the same.'
'They don't know anything?' Dotty asked.
'No, mam, they don't. To my knowledge they have no idea that I'm gay, much less totally in love with another man.'
'When you tell them, if there is anything we cam do to assist you, just let us know.'
'Thanks. I just might need you to talk with them also.'
John looked at Josh and smiled, saying, 'Well, since you're family now, you can feel free to call me John or Dad, whichever you're comfortable with.'
'I'd really like Mom and Dad if it's okay with you two?'
'By all means,' Dotty said, leaning over to give him a kiss. 'Well, Dad, it looks like we now have two sons.'
'Sure does,' John said with a smile.
As people began leaving Brad's cubicle, they stood and waited. The doctor came out and smiled. 'He's okay. His heart did stop but not long enough to do any damage. His heart rate is back to normal and he's stable, but still in a coma. You can go in, but just for a few minutes. I will allow just one of you to sit with him.' Then looking at Josh, he said, 'Are you family?'
John quickly spoke up and said, 'Yes, he is. He's another son.'
The doctor nodded and led them to brad's bedside, pulling the curtain closed as he left. Josh hurried to Brad's side and took his good hand in his, leaning down and without hesitation, he kissed Brad on the lips and whispered, 'I love you Brad. Please wake up so I can tell you.'
He heard John whisper to Dotty, 'I guess seeing that is something we'll have to get used to.'
She smiled. When the doctor stepped back in and said only one could stay, John quickly said, 'Josh can stay. We're going to check in at the motel down the road and see about getting some rest.' The doctor told them to let them know that they had family here and that they would get a big discount on their room. They gave Josh both their cell numbers and said to call if there was any change. Josh assured them that they would. After stron loving hugs from both John and Dotty, they left Josh alone with Brad.
Josh pulled the chair close to the bed and held Brad's hand, tears rolling down his cheeks. After a while fatigue set in and after laying his head on the matress next to Brad, Josh went to sleep. It was near seven that evening.
Everytime the nurses checked on Brad, Josh would wake up, then we=hen they left, go back to sleep. The next morning he was awakened by Dotty, urging him to go get something to eat. He refused and John went and got breakfast to go for him. For three days, Josh refused to leave the hospital. He'd get short cat-naps in the waiting room, or each night he'd sleep as he had that first night with his head on the matress holding Brad's hand.
On the second day, the doctor commented to the Davis' that Josh seemed awfully close to Brad but didn't have any of the family features. Without hesitation, Dotty looked at the doctor and said, 'Josh is adopted and they are extremely close.' Josh smiled and said, 'Mom, you don't have to explain to him.' The doctor, feling the stab from Josh's words, turned and left.
The third night, near four in the morning, Josh felt someone stroking his head. He opened his eyes and looked around. No one was in the room. He looked at Brad, who was looking at him smiling.
'Hi, baby,' Brad whispered.
'Brad, you're awake. I have to call your parents and the nurses.'
'Okay, but first I need a kiss.' Josh stood and kissed Brad passionately before hitting the nurses call button. When they answered, he said, 'He's awake.' The intercom clicked off and Josh could hear the nurse hurrying down the hall. He called John and Dotty and within minutes, they were there at Brad's bedside.
After the doctor and nurses had checked him out thoroughly, the four of them were finally alone. Josh looked at Brad and said, 'Before anything else happens, I have something to say and I want your parents to hear this. We've talked and they know how I feel so it won't be a shock to them.'
Josh paused and looked at John and Dotty then said, 'Brad, I love you with all my heart and soul and with your folks as witnesses, I'm asking you to be my life partner if you'll have me.'
'You better believe I will. Can I have a kiss to seal it?'
Josh leaned down and as the men kissed, Dotty began crying.
'What's wrong, Mom?' Brad asked.
'Oh, I always cry at weddings.'
They all laughed then Brad asked, 'Then I assume that you two have accepted Josh into the family and also accept our relationship?'
'You bet we do son. You know our love is unconditional. Josh even calls us Mom and Dad.'
'Wow! That's great. I love all of you.'
Brad quickly began to heal and was nearing being released from the hospital. He asked Josh about the rodeo competitions.
'There is one next week but I'm going to skip it.'
'Like hell you are!' Brad told him. 'If you do, it will knock you out of the run for another championship. You go and compete.'
'But I'd rather stay with you.'
'Josh, we have a lifetime together. You go and compete for the rest of the season. It's almost over.'
Josh agreed and won all the rest of the events. It was nearing time for the Championship Rodeo in Las Vegas. Brad and his folks would be there although Brad would still be in a wheel chair. Josh knew that his folks would be there also.
The time came and after winning the titles of worl champion in his two events for the fourth year in a row, Josh's dad insisted on a celebration dinner. Josh told him that Brad and his parents were to be invited. His dad asked why and Josh just said, 'Because I want them there.'
They were seated in a private dining room at the restaurant. There were Josh, his parents,Bruce and Sue Rivers, his older brother Bobby, his grand father, Brad and the Davis'.
After the dinner was served and everyone had finished eating, Josh knew that it all had to come out into the open.
'Mom, Dad, there is something you need to know. Back in high school, when I started training and practicing, you wondered why I never dated. It was because I knew then that I was gay.' Sue Rivers let out a slight gasp and Bruce began shaking his head.
'I kept it secret from everyone except Bobby. Now don't get mad at him. I made him swear not to say anything but he knew and accepted it. Early this year I had the pleasure of meeting Brad. We instantly liked each other and became close friends. Brad is gay also and over time it has developed into more than friendship. Brad and I are now life partners. His parents just found out a few months ago and they have accepted our relationship and look at us as the couple that we are. I'm hoping that you can do the same.'
Suddenly, there was total silence. Everyone slowly looked around at each other. Without saying a word, Bruce Rivers got up and slowly walked out the side door into the parking lot.
As josh started to go after him, John said, 'Josh, let me talk to him. I know what he's feeling.' John followed Bruce outside as Dotty went to Sue and put her arms around her.
The two women walked to a corner of the room and talked softly. Bobby said softly to Josh, 'That was one hell of an announcement. I figured that you'd tell them at some point but I never dreamed it would be like this.'
'Bobby, I wanted all of youto get to know Brad and I think you have over the last few days.'
'I have and I like him. It's cool with me. I can see how you two sincerely care for each other. Watching you two these last few days, I was sort of expectine that you two were a couple. Welcome, Brad.'
'Thanks, Bobby. That means a lot.'
Josh's grandfather spoke next saying, 'Josh, I would have preferred that you get involved with a woman and give me great grandkids, but if you're really happy with Brad, who am I to speak against it.'
'Grandpa, I love Brad with all my heart.'
'Then that says it all. Guess i now have another grandson,' he said, smiling at Brad.
After a few more moments, Bruce and John walked back in and Bruce went to Sue and talked. John and Dotty returned to the table and as they sat down, John looked at Josh and winked. Josh felt relieved, hoping that the wink was a positive sign.
Bruce and Sue returned to the table. As they sat down, Bruce began speaking.
'Josh, to be totally honest, I have secretely wondered about this for years. It's not what I'd have preferred, but after talking with John, he's made me see how truly happy and devoted you are to Brad. He told me about you staying by his side at the hospital. Anyone couldn't ask for anything more. Your mother and I accept your lifestyle and welcome Bruce into the family. I will have to be honest and say that it will take some getting used two to see you two together and sharing a bed when you visit, but such is life. Now, let's get some champagne in here and have a toast.'
Everyone stood and hugs went all around. After a champagne toast, the Rivers' invited Josh and Bruce to spend the next couple of weeks with them. They accepted and Brad continued his recovery.
Before they realized it, Brad was healed and the next rodeo season was about to begin. However the doctors had warned Brad that it could be extremely dangerous to participate since having the concussion. He asked about wearing a special helmet. They agreed but warned him of symptoms to watch for.
The rodeo season began and Josh and Brad began compeating. Again Josh was doing well and Brad was placing second and third. After about a third of the season, he decided to give it up and just be there for Josh. That thrilled Josh, because he knew that Brad wouldn't risk being injured again.
However, things became tense on the rodeo circuit. Rumors began to go around at each rodeo about the 'queers' that were there.
In Phoenix, it all came to a head. Jim Sims that works security and travels with the circuit, came to Josh and Brad and said that they needed to talk.
Inside their camper he looked at them and said, 'I'm sure that you two have heard the rumors that are going around.'
'Yes, we have. We're thinking of quitting the circuit and start raising quarter horses.'
'Are they true? Are you two gay?'
'Yes, Jim, we are. Brad and I are life partners.'
'Okay, I have no problem with that. You two never flaunt it in public, you treat everyone the same. I have other friends that are gay and I totally respect their lifestyle. Tonight, there is a get together of the contestants.'
'Yea, we know however we weren't invited,' said Brad.
'Well, you're invited now, as my guest. It's time to bring this situation to an end, one way ot the other. I'll be by about seven and meet you.'
That night, Jim stopped by and got Brad and Josh and they walked to the get together. As they arrived, one of the men looked at them and said, 'Jim, this is by invitation only and they weren't invited.'
'Yes they were, by me as my guest. I've had enough of this shit and it's time for it to end.'
He grabbed three beers from the cooler, handed one to both Brad and Josh, and opened the third for himself.
'You all have know both these men for several years. You know that without question, they both would do anything for you including letting you use one of there horses if you needed it. You know I'm right. Now, because of their sexual preference, which was the same when you met them as it is now, you want to treat them as second class people. That's bullshit! How would you feel if you were gay and were being treated like they are? As the saying goes, 'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.''
Jim looked around the crowd of men then continued.
'As you know, I do security at night. I'm not mentioning any names, but there are some that I know have girlfriends or wives at home that are engaging in the same activities as they are. I've seen you in the stalls, or hay piles, or in horse trailers engaging in both oral and anal sex. Yet you stand here and condem them. Why?'
Jim waited as the men began looking around at each other.
'As for me, I consider Brad and Josh, and the rest of you, regardless of whether you're bi, gay or straight as my friends. And if this treatment of them continues, you can forget about me looking the other way next time i see anything goin on at night. It's up to you guys. That's all I have to say.'
After a few minutes, one by one they began to come up to Brad and Josh and after offering their hans and an appology, began laughing and joking with the two men. By the end of the evening, everything was forgotten and back to normal. They were even asking them not to pull out of the rodeo curcuit.
As Jim, Brad and Josh walked back to the camper, Brad asked, 'Have you really seen any shit going on at night?'
'A couple of times but not near as much as I let on. But judging from their reaction to that statement, I think it is going on a lot more than I realized.'
'Well, all we can say is thanks, although it's not really enough,' said Josh.
For the remainder of the curcuit, they were treated no different than any other contestant. They were happily included in all festivities.
They finished the curcuit again with Josh winning for the fifth yeas in a row. While taking a break, they visited both sets of parents and were openly welcomed by each. Bruce Rivers unashamably introduced Brad as his son's partner.
During that time, Josh's grandfather passed and when his will was read, Josh found out that his grandfather had purchased for him and Brad a thousand acre spread and had left it to them. He knew that they had considered raising quarter horses and now they could.
The quit the curcuit, but had left an open invitation to all their friends to stop by and visit any time. To their amazement, other contestants that had ridiculed them were stopping by and spending several nights with them, often buying one or two horses.
Their business grew and as it did they purchased more land. They have been together ten years and are still deeply in love with each other, yet if the occasion arises, they invite other men into their beds. Many of those have been guys that were on the curcuit with them. Jim had been right. There was more going on than he knew about.