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the whispering prairie winds

Chapter Seven

April 2007

My teaching position at the college seemed to be the only life I had. I went to work, grocery shopping and jogged in the park next to the river. Tim and Jeff must have seen that I was not over Brad and came by my apartment one evening and emphatically informed that they were taking me out for a night on the town. I protested of course, but those two would not give in until I agreed.

After I showered and Jeff finally approved of what I was wearing, we went for a nice dinner and good conversation. I soon found that I was enjoying myself again. Tim then drove us to the same club where I met Tim and Jeff. I was not ready for the club, but I knew protesting would be a waste of time.

I again found that I was enjoying myself and even danced with some of the guys. Several were hitting on me, but I was not ready to start dating again. Tim asked me to dance and then pulled me onto the dance floor before I could protest. Just before the dance ended, I saw Brad dancing with Jack. I turned to leave the dance floor when Tim said, "Don't give him the satisfaction of controlling how you act. Pretend he isn't here and try to have a good time."

Staying in the same club that Brad was in, much less the on the same dance floor was one of the hardest things I'd ever done. I knew that Tim was right and danced a seconded dance with him. I carried for Brad, but I think it bothered me more that he was seeing Jack. Jack wanted people to believe that he had money when in actuality he was deeply in debt. If Brad was seeing Jack because he thought Jack had money then I knew I was better off without Brad.

I normally wasn't much of a drinker, but I got plastered that night. I didn't remember getting home, but when I woke up, I had huge hangover. Tim and Jeff must have put me to bed. I emptied my bladder and my stomach when I finally made it to the bathroom. I not only had a headache, but I was pissed at myself for letting Brad get to me. I guess that I cared for him more that I wanted to admit.

Finally, by mid afternoon my headache was pretty much history, but my heartache was another problem. It sucked big time to care for someone and know that he wasn't the right person for you. I felt about Brad that way. I cared for him and knew that even if he weren't with Jack I couldn't have a relationship with him. I sat down and cried over him for the first time.

I tried to read, but couldn't concentrate on the printed words. Nothing on TV was of interest to me and I ended up sitting on the balcony watching the people in the park. I decided that a good run in the park might do me some good. I changed into some shorts and running shoes and walked across the street to the park.

After doing some stretches, I began to run. The running seemed to be therapeutic and I was beginning to feel better. I must have not hydrated myself well before the run and I began to feel dizzy after running for about two miles. I slowed my run down to a steady walk and planned to make my way back to my apartment. I just happened to look toward the traffic on Riverside Drive and saw Brad with Jack drive by. Brad and I made eye contact and I began to feel the pain again. I made my way to a park bench and just sat there.

I sat just looking toward the river and realized that getting over Brad was going to be more difficult than I thought. I must have sat there for more than an hour when I heard a small voice saying, "Mister that's my ball."

I looked up and saw a small boy grinning at me and pointing at a ball that had landed under the bench where I was sitting. I picked up the ball and tossed it toward him and he missed it of course. He went chasing after it and giggling the whole time. He brought the ball back, handed it to me and said, "You threw it too hard. Now throw it again."

He was the cutest kid I'd ever seen. Just watching him warmed my heart. I realized that being gay I wouldn't have the opportunity to have a cute kid like him. I wondered whose kid this was and looked to see if there was an adult with him. I then saw a panic-stricken older man waking toward us and saying, "Cameron you can't just run off like that. I turned my back and you're gone."

"Gramps, I was just playing ball," Cameron insisted. He then pulled himself on the bench beside me and asked, "What's your name?"

"I'm Tyler," I replied as my heart warmed to this friendly little guy.

"I'm Cameron and that's my gramps," Cameron said as he pointed to the older but distinguished looking gentleman.

Cameron's gramps sat on the bench, extended his hand toward me, and said, "I'm Chuck and this rowdy guy is my grandson. I had the pleasure of babysitting him today."

"I'm not a baby, I'm three," Cameron insisted as he held up four fingers and then took his other hand and pushed the extra finger down.

"Wow, you're a big kid then," I teased.

"Yeah," Cameron giggled and then moved closer to me on the bench. "Do you have a little boy to play ball with?"

"No, I don't have any little boy to play ball with," I smiled. "If I could have one like you I'd be happy though."

Cameron giggled and said, "My dad said that he would give me away, but he doesn't mean it."

"Tell your dad that if he does mean it that he should call me," I joked but at the same time wished that I had a kid like this cutie.

"Next time my gramps brings me to the park I'll play ball with you," Cameron promised as he took both hands and turned my head to look directly into his sparkling brown eyes.

"Well that's nice of you Cameron, and I'd like that," I said with sincerity.

Cameron smiled back and said, "Yeah it is nice of me."

"Cameron, we need to get home now," Chuck said. "You're dad will be home up soon."

"Okay, Gramps," Cameron said as he took Chuck's hand and walked away. He then ran back to me, climbed on the bench, and gave me a hug. "Bye Tyler, will you be my friend?"

"Of course little buddy, I'll be your friend," I smiled. "It would be my honor to have a friend like you."

"That boy never meets a stranger," Chuck said. "But, he's really taken to you."

Cameron turned and waved bye to me as he and Chuck walked away. I then realized how much good Cameron had done for me. If doctors could write a prescription for a "kid fix" when people are feeling blue it would be the new miracle drug.

I made my way back to my apartment and I had just finished my shower when the phone rang. "Hi Tyler, I'm just checking to see how your hangover is?" Jeff inquired. "Tim and I had to put you to bed last night."

"Hey Jeff, I'm good now," I laughed. "But, I woke up with one hell of a headache. Thanks for putting me to bed last night. And, thanks for not taking advantage of me in my drunken state."

"Who said we didn't?" Jeff joked. "By the way, you have a big cock."

"And you have a big mouth," I came back. "But, anyway thanks for taking care of me last night. Moreover, I feel good now. I met this cute little kid in the park and he was a real upper for me."

"Some day you'll have to get your own kid," Jeff teased.

"Seriously, if I could have brought that little guy home with me I would have." I really would have. For some reason he helped bring me out of my doldrums.

Thanks to Tim, Jeff and my brief meeting with Cameron I began to get out more. I went on a few dates, but nobody really interested me. I went jogging in the park and hoped to see my new little buddy Cameron. I was about to give up on seeing Cameron again when I heard, "Hi Tyler, do you want to play ball with me?" Cameron came running toward me and gave me a hug.

"I'd be happy to play ball with you, Cameron," I said as I extended my hand to Chuck. "I see that you got the honor of keeping Cameron company today." I made sure I didn't mention babysitting in front of Cameron.

"I sure did," Chuck smiled. "However, I must admit that I'm glad he found you. I'm just too old for his energy. It takes a young guy like you or his dad to keep up with him."

"Gramps you can sit here while we play ball," Cameron commanded as he pointed to the park bench.

"Tyler may not want to play ball with you," Chuck smiled. "Did you ask him?"

"Oh," Cameron giggled as he took the plastic ball and bat from his grandfather's hand. "You'll play ball with me, Tyler?" Cameron stated more as a command than a question.

"I'd love to play ball with you, Cameron," I said. I knew that I had a big smile on my face. We played ball until Cameron and I both were wet from sweat. I suggested that we rest for a while, but Cameron wanted no part of sitting. He did finally agree when I agreed to play with him later.

Cameron sat next to me and began to tell me about his friend Sam. "Sam still pees in the bed, but I don't because I'm a big boy. Oh, and Sam ate a bug. Sam's dad call called his mom a bitch. Bitch is a bad word isn't it, Tyler?"

Before I could answer, Cameron was sitting on my lap and giving me a hug. He then looked up at me and said with a yawn, "I'm glad you're my friend."

I could tell that Cameron had fallen asleep when his breathing became shallower and I heard his little boy snoring. I looked at Chuck as he was smiling while saying, "He's out like a light. I'll take him home and put him to bed."

I carried Cameron to Chuck's car, got him in his booster seat, and buckled in. I then kissed him on the top of his head and said, "Goodbye little buddy."

"He grows on you," Chuck stated with a loving smile on his face.

"He is a sweet little guy," I admitted.

I saw Cameron and Chuck in the park several times over the next few weeks. Cameron kept me busy playing ball or just talking, but I decided that I liked Chuck and it was obvious that he loved his grandson.

I still missed Brad, but I was recovering from my depression and I decided it was about time that I did something about my wardrobe. I was in the men's department of Dillard's looking at a shirt when an older man walked up to me and asked, "Would you like that shirt as a gift?"

I was shocked that this older man might be trying to pick me up. How could he guess that I was gay? "I beg your pardon," I stated more sternly than was probably necessary.

The man then laughed and appeared to be embarrassed and then said, "Oh I'm sorry. I didn't mean that the way it sounded. It's my son's birthday and I always seem to buy clothes that just hang in his closet. I guess I'm too old for his taste in clothes. You're about his age, and I just thought maybe you might have some advice."

I laughed and joked, "I was beginning to think you were trying to pick me up."

"I don't believe you're my type," he teased back. "How about that shirt that you're holding there, would he like something like that?"

"This is in style, but what is his hair color and complexion?" I asked.

"He has dark brown hair, brown eyes, and his complexion is a little darker than yours," the man said.

I smiled thinking that it sounded somewhat like a profile on a gay internet site. "I don't think you'd want this color, but maybe the navy blue one there would look better on him."

"The blue one it is," he said. "Thanks, I would have taken the bright red one."
I ended up spending more than $500 on clothes that day, but I decided that I had neglected my wardrobe so long that it was probably just a fraction of what I needed.

"Wow, new clothes?" Jeff asked when I joined him and Tim for dinner.

"I bought a few new things," I admitted.

"Well it's about time," Tim teased.

"Did I look that bad?" I questioned.

"If you didn't have that hot body you'd never get a date," Tim joked.

"Shut up," I laughed. "Just for that you're buying."

It was finally Friday and I was looking forward to the weekend off with absolutely no plans at all. I stopped by the grocery store on my way home to stock up on some weekend beer and snacks. I paid for my beer and snack and started out the door when I heard my favorite kid yell, "Tyler, Tyler."

I picked Cameron up and he kissed me on the cheek. I looked around for his grandpa Chuck, but to my surprise, I saw the same man that I had assisted in purchasing a shirt a few weeks back.

"Small world," he said while smiling. "You must be the Tyler that Cameron talks about all the time."

"Tyler is my friend," Cameron said as he hugged me again.

"Well Cameron say goodbye to your friend, we have to meet your dad for dinner," Cameron's grandfather said.

"Can Tyler come too?" Cameron pleaded.

"Well I don't know," his grandfather teased. "Why don't you ask him?"

"Please come to dinner with us," Cameron begged as he took my face with both hands so that he could assure that I gave him all my attention.

How could I tell those puppy dog eyes no? I agreed and we decided that we would drop my groceries off at the apartment and then I would ride with them. Well, Cameron decided that I would ride with them.

We arrived at a "kid friendly" restaurant that offered reasonably good food. Cameron spotted his already seated dad. "Daddy," he yelled as he ran to hug the handsome well dress man who was already seated with his dad, Chuck. "We brought Tyler." Cameron took my hand pulled me toward the table.

"So, you're the Tyler that I've heard so much about," Cameron's dad stated as he extended his hand. I think you've already met my dad, Chuck and my son Cameron. I'm Tanner and I see that you've met my other dad, Walter."

"Oh my God, Tanner!" I exclaimed as I hugged him. He pulled back with a surprised look on his face. "Tanner, I'm Tyler from Nebraska," I explained. "You spent the summer with us before you went to live with Walter in Houston."

I saw that Tanner finally realized who I was and he grabbed me and hugged me. We were as giddy as two schoolgirls after finding each other after all those years. Soon Cameron was taken up by the excitement and was bouncing around as if he knew what was going on. Tanner explained to his dads who I was and they too joined in on the excitement.

Tanner explained that he had moved to Tulsa to attend law school and never returned to Houston. He had met Cameron's mother, gotten married and divorced. His dads had moved to Tulsa to help care for Cameron.

"My mama is on drugs," Cameron chimed in. It amazed me at how honest kids could be.

"That boy could never be a lawyer," Tanner laughed. "He's just too honest." We all laughed and Cameron laughed as if he understood the joke too.

I couldn't get over how handsome Tanner had become. I could see where Cameron got those beautiful brown eyes.
I could now see how much Cameron looked like Tanner when Tanner was a young boy.
After we finished our dinner Tanner insisted that I return home with them for coffee so we could visit some more. I was enjoying the company of this family of a dad, a son and the two grandfathers.

Tanner's home was much more than I had expected. It was in a gated community, very large but very homelike. Tanner must have seen my astonishment at the house. "Remember the trust fund that my parent's left me?" He asked. "Walter invested it well for me."

"It's about your bedtime," Chuck informed Cameron. "Let's get your bath."

"Don't go," Cameron instructed. "I'll be right back."

"Okay buddy, I'll be right here visiting with your dad," I promised.

Cameron returned and crawled up on my lap and put his head on my chest. He looked up at me with those big brown eyes and asked, "Will your mom let you spend the night?"

"My mom is in Nebraska, but I'm a big guy now and don't have to ask," I laughed.

"Well then you can spend the night," Cameron affirmed. "You can sleep in the other bed in my room."

"You're more than welcome to spend the night, but we have a guest room that might be more comfortable for you," Tanner said.

"I'd be honored to sleep in your room," I smiled at Cameron. "Why don't you go on to bed and I'll join you after I've visited with your dad for a while."

Cameron protested that he had to go to bed alone, but I assured him that I'd join him later. Tanner, Walter, Chuck and I chatted until well after midnight. I learned that Tanner had become interested in law when his Aunt Barbara tried to get control of the trust fund that his biological parents had left to him. Walter had hired an excellent attorney who blocked every move that she tried.

Walter yawned, took Chuck's hand, and said, "I think it's time we old folks get to bed. You two don't stay up all night. Remember that you have plenty of time to catch up."

"We'll be going to bed soon, Dad," Tanner said. "You know who will be up early all full of energy."

"How well we know," Chuck laughed. "Tyler got a dose of his energy in the park."

"It's wonderful that they can still be in love and together after all these years," I said as I watched the two older lovers go off to bed hand-in-hand.

"They have been my family and I love them both," Tanner said. "They gave up their home and friends in Houston to come and take care of Cameron and me after the divorce."

"I'm sorry to hear about your divorce," I said.

"Cameron and I are better this way," Tanner said. "What about you, have you ever been married?"

"I had a partner when I was in College at Chadron," I said. I then had another one when I was in grad school at Wyoming."

"You're gay?" Tanner asked.

"I am," I admitted.

Tanner stood and said, "It's late and I think we should get to bed."

I nodded in agreement but noticed that Tanner seemed very cool upon learning that I was gay. I went to Cameron's room and crawled into the spare bed thinking about Tanner's reaction to finding out I was gay. I didn't know what to think of this since he was had been adopted by Walter and Chuck, a gay couple.

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