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a quick retreat

Chapter Fourteen

January 21 2008

The mobile home was as George said, in great shape. It appeared roomy, especially when compared to my little travel trailer. I would miss my trailer, but I knew that for Mason and me to be comfortable we would need a larger place. Mason and I split the cost of the mobile home and George made arrangement for it to be moved.

Three days later we were living on our property in our new used mobile home. George gave us most of his furniture since his condo was smaller than his house. Susan and Steve gave us the furniture from their den since she was buying new anyway. Mason and I both knew that they hadn’t planned on new furniture, but we also knew it would be a waste of time to argue about it.

Mason and I decided to have a small dinner party for Steve, Susan, Roy, Barry, and George. This would be the first time I had ever entertained, but Mason assured me it would go well. We decided the simplest dinner would be to grill steaks. It would be steaks, baked potatoes, salad, and Mason insisted that he would bake an apple pie to be served ala mode. I laughed when Mason said he would bake the pie, but to my surprise he seemed to know what he was doing. He said that his grandma had taught him when he was there for a visit.

The dinner went well and all seemed to enjoy the evening. After dinner we enjoyed coffee and the view from the deck. I had to admit to myself that Mason was right; the view was worth the price of the land. As we sat enjoying the evening a white tale buck deer meandered across the lawn and down the hill and into the woods.

“When I was a kid, that would have been dinner,” George said.

“You would have eaten Bamby?” Mason asked.

“When you grow up poor and hungry, you eat whatever you can get,” George said. “After a meal like we just had it is hard to believe that I’ve ever been hungry.”

“I’ll be out tomorrow morning to get you guys started on the remodel,” Barry said as if to change the subject.

“I won’t be able to help tomorrow but, I can the next day,” George said. “I’m moving into the condo tomorrow.”

“Why didn’t you tell us,” I said. “We can wait until the next day to start on the house. You’re going to need help moving.”

“No, everything is packed and ready for the movers,” George said. “I’ll have plenty of time to unpack.”

“You guys go ahead with your plans to start on the house and I’ll go help George unpack,” Susan offered.

“Thank you Susan, but I can manage,” George said.

“I’m sure you can, but I want to do this for you,” Susan said. “You’ve done so much for the boys and it is time we do something for you.”

“All of you have done a lot for me already,” George said. “Before Jeff came I was a lonely old man. Now I’m a happy old man. You have all been like family to me.”

“Grandpa, you are family,” I said. “I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if I hadn’t met you.”

After our guest had gone home Mason and I cleaned up the kitchen and loaded the dishwasher before going to bed. We then went to bed and made love. It now felt as though were a real couple now, making love in our own bed in our own house.

True to his word, Barry arrived the next morning as Mason and I were enjoying our second cup of coffee. “Have you had breakfast? Mason asked as he handed Barry a cup of coffee.

“I had breakfast with Roy,” Barry said. “As soon as we finish our coffee we’ll get started on the house. Did either of you think to have a dumpster brought out?”

“No, I didn’t think about that,” I confessed. “Where could we get one?”

“I brought the phone number of the people we used when we were remodeling,” Barry said. “Call them and maybe they can get one out here today.”

Fortunately, we had a promise of a dumpster to be delivered before afternoon. Mason and I began the work of taking out all of the drywall and Barry began taking out the old kitchen cabinets. By 10:00 O’clock we had a dumpster and began to fill it with the drywall and old cabinets. “I think by Monday we’ll be ready for the electrician,” Barry said. “We should also call a plumber and get that taken care of too. I’ll make a list of materials for you to have delivered.”

“What materials will that be?” Mason asked.

“Things like insulation, drywall and a long list of other things,” Barry said. “Incidentally, I pulled up a bit of the carpet and you have hardwood floors under that old ugly carpet. For a fraction of the cost new floors you can hire a professional to refinish what you have. You also need to decide on your kitchen cabinets. You can order some from Home Depot or have a cabinet maker build them for you. The cabinet maker would be more expensive, but the quality would be better. If you decide on a cabinet maker, I can give you the name and phone number of the guy we had to build ours.”

“I can’t wait to start ripping out that ugly carpet,” Mason said.

“You don’t want to rip it out now,” Barry said. “It can protect the floor during construction. Let’s get busy knocking out more drywall.”

We soon had several wheelbarrow loads of debris. Too our surprise there was absolutely no insulation behind the drywall. All of the drywall was out of the master bedroom and Barry began putting up the new wall for the bathroom and walk-in closet.

During our lunch break Barry said, “I’m surprised at how fast the demolition is going. It helps that there was no insulation to mess with. Tomorrow we’ll start on the kitchen and bath room.”

“Tomorrow Mason and I have to work,” I said.

“I think we need to discuss that,” Barry said. “You two love birds don’t have to work the same days. One of you can be here to help me.”

“We’ll have to ask about changing days off,” Mason said.

“You forget that I sleep with one of your bosses,” Barry laughed.

By evening we had all of the drywall out and Barry had the studs in for the new bathroom and closet walls. “It looks like you’re ready for the electrician to begin his work,” Barry said. “It could be that you’ll be ready to move in well before the end of the summer.”

Susan, Steve, Roy, and George arrived and we once again enjoyed another family get together. Susan had brought a brought the complete dinner which included a delicious pot roast. “How did you manage to do all of this and still help Grandpa settle into his apartment?” I asked.

“You boys need to learn the art of Crockpot cooking,” Susan said. “I’ll bet you don’t even own one.”

“I’ve never used one,” I admitted.

“You can have the one I brought the roast in,” Susan said. “I have another one.”

“That was a delicious dinner,” George said. “Now I want to go see what these guys have done today.”

We all made the grand tour of the house and all were surprised at how much we had accomplished in just one day. George wasn’t surprised that there was no insulation and said that at the time the house was built most people in the area used wood heat. Since they cut their own wood they didn’t consider insulation as a savings. After his scrupulous inspection he asked, “What do you plan to do about siding?”

Mason and I both looked at Barry as if to say, “You didn’t say we needed to decide about siding.”

Barry laughed and said, “Don’t look at me. I can’t think of everything. What would you suggest, Grandpa?”

“I have a friend just west of Gravette that has log siding,” George said. “I thought it was a real log house until he told me that it was siding. They can just put it over the existing old lap siding. I’ll call and make arrangement for you guys to go look at his house tomorrow when you get off work.”

The log siding was everything George said it was. It looked exactly like a real log house and it only took a few minutes for Mason and me to decide on going with it. We called the supplier the next day and made arrangements for the log siding. We discovered that the same supplier sold the type of windows that would go perfect with the log siding. We were still within our budget since we didn’t have the expense of new flooring.

The house remodel became a family affair and on weekends Steve, Susan, Roy, Barry and George were all there for a family breakfast and then work on the house. We were all amazed at how much work George was able to accomplish. It was apparent that he did have previous experience at carpentry work. Once the log siding was on the house took an entirely different look.

One evening after my day to work at the office, I came home Mason grabbed my hand and said, “Come with me. I want to show you something.”

“I’ve already seen it, remember?” I joked.

“Not that, you horny fucker,” Mason laughed. “You’ll love this.”

Mason led me down the hill over a deer trail to the creek. We walked up the creek around the bend and there was a small waterfall with a pool that was actually large enough to swim in.

“This is beautiful,” I said. “Let’s go swimming.”

Mason was already undressing. We both were stripped completely nude when we jumped in the water. In spite of the high temperature, the water was almost chilly. We played in the refreshing water and then made out before putting our clothes back on.

“I wonder if this is on our property or somebody else’s,” Mason said.

“It’s ours,” I said. “The surveyor said that our property goes to the top of that hill a few feet.”

When we arrived back at the house, George had arrived and was sitting on the porch. He said, “Where have you two been hiding out while I’ve been here working my ass off.”

“Yeah, I noticed that the bottom of that rocking chair on the porch is worn where you’ve been working your ass off,” Mason joke. “Grandpa you should see the waterfall and pool of water we found. It’s gorgeous down there.”

“So, that’s why your hair is wet,” George said. “I knew your hair wasn’t wet from sweat.”

“Grandpa, the water is almost chilly,” I said.

“My guess is that there is a spring nearby,” George said. “This fall when it is cooler I’d like to go down and see it.”

Our Chicago friends were due to arrive for Independence Day Weekend and we would take that weekend off from working on the house. I was anxious to see our friends, but I was also anxious to get the house finished.

Tom, Craig, Bruce and Carol had decided to drive down from Chicago together. They arrived on the third and Mason and I picked Tom and Craig up at Mason’s parents’ house. Susan insisted that we stay for a cookout of hamburgers. Of course Steve and Susan’s cookout of just hamburgers were always more than that.

“How is your volunteer work with CASA going?” Carol asked Susan during dinner.

“George and I start our training next week,” Susan said. “I’m anxious to get started.”

“I know personally that it is very rewarding,” Carol said. “You’ll likely get as much out of it as the children will.

After an enjoyable evening Mason and I decided it was time for us to get Tom and Craig settled in for the night. Tom and Craig agreed that this was a beautiful area, but they were really surprised when we arrived at our place. Since the sun was setting we decided to wait until morning to show what we had accomplished with the old house.

We visited until well past midnight when I noticed Craig yawning. I suggested that we go to bed since the entire group would be out tomorrow for the Fourth of July celebration. Mason and I got them settled into the guest bedroom and then went to our bedroom. I must have been more tired than I realized because I was asleep almost as soon as my head touched the pillow.

I woke up about nine to the smell of bacon cooking. I went to the bathroom to pee and wash up and then went to the kitchen and saw the three men cooking breakfast. Well, Craig was doing most of the cooking while Mason and Tom were in the way. I poured myself a cup of coffee and sat down to a plate of pancakes, sausage and bacon.

After breakfast we went to show Craig and Tom the house. “I can’t believe you two did all of this,” Craig said. “It’s going to be beautiful.”

“We didn’t actually do all of it,” I said. “The family all helped a great deal. Even Grandpa did a lot.”

“Even if you had to live in a shack, the view would be worth it,” Tom said.

“You should see the creek and waterfall,” Mason said.

“Where is that?” Tom asked.

“Just down the hill there,” Mason said as he pointed toward the creek. “Want to go see it?”

“Sure do,” Tom said.

We followed the deer path down to the creek and the waterfall. “Wow!” Tom and Craig exclaimed simultaneously.

“This is our private swimming pool,” I said.

“Too bad we didn’t bring swim suits,” Craig said.

“Jeff and I swim nude,” Mason said with a mischievous grin.

“I’m game if you are,” Tom said as he began undressing.

We each began undressing and I couldn’t help but notice what a great body Tom now had. I checked both guys out as most guys would. Both Tom and Craig were handsome guys. However, there was nothing sexual involved with our swimming nude. We were just four young men skinny dipping. After playing in the cool water for more than an hour we decided that we should get dressed and start getting ready for the cookout. We were hosting the cookout since we were outside the city limits and could shoot fireworks. I wasn’t sure how much money Mason had spent on fireworks, but I suspected that it was more than two hundred dollars.

We had been instructed by Susan and Carol to not worry about food since they were bringing everything out. I gave Susan $100 to help cover the cost of the food, but as I had expected she didn’t want to accept it. We finally agreed that she would donate it to CASA.

Everyone had arrived by five and of course they wanted to see what we had done to the house. Bruce was impressed by the log siding. “It looks just like a real log house,” he said. “Here on this hill is a perfect sitting for a log house too.”

After dinner we teenagers got the fireworks out and began deciding on our own fireworks show. To our surprise, Roy went to his car and brought out almost as many fireworks as Mason had purchased. Roy and Barry joined use in the preparations and we were all like a bunch of grade school boys. We could hardly wait until dark to begin sitting off the fireworks, but when we began it was indeed a great fireworks show. There were lots of oohs and aahs during our fireworks show.

We sat around visiting over drinks after the fireworks show. I again realized how much this family meant to me. I had never really had a family until I left my biological parents to avoid another beating. I loved these people more every day. Steve and Susan were not only Mason’s parents, but mine too. Of course George was the Grandpa that I’d never had. Barry, Roy, Bruce and Carol were my uncles and aunt. Tom and Craig were my brothers that I’d never had. I was now past hating my parents. They were simply the people who gave me life and nothing more.

Our Chicago visitors’ time to return home came too soon for us. They extracted a promise from us a visit to Chicago.

The work on our house progressed much faster than any of us had expected. The cost was almost $5,000 more than we had planned because we decided to have a fireplace. We were still pleased with the house. The house was ready to move into by the end of June. Of course our family had to give us a house warming party.

We sold the mobile home for the amount we had paid for it. It had severed us well while we were remodeling, but our house looked and felt like home.

The summer had been a busy one, but rewarding. Mason and I were making plans for entering the University of Arkansas in the fall. “Before we start classes lets go to Denver to visit my brother,” Mason said as we were on our way home from work one day.

“I’ve never met Mark and his family,” I said. “How would he feel about his brother bringing his boyfriend for a visit?”

“He would be fine with it,” Mason assured me. “We’ve talked a lot about my being gay. Besides, he asked me to bring you for a visit.”

“I guess it’s time for me to meet my brother-in-law,” I said. “When do we go?”

“We have to work next week and then we’re off until after we go back to school,” Mason said. “Why don’t we go the following week? Let’s drive since we’ll have plenty of time and it will save airfare. This will be a fun trip.”

“Just going on vacation with you will be fun,” I said.

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