Columbine and Bells
“Ma’am, if looks were licks, I’d be an ice cream cone…could you please stop the video?” Jeremy did not like to be streamed live without his consent. It happened more than he or I wished for, what with the current state of technology. My man was verifiably photogenic. And nothing if not outspoken.
We were cooling down at the water fountain by Barton Springs after our morning run and the woman had caught sight of us from somewhere. The dogs lapped greedily from the water bowls at our feet, humid weather taking its toll on the two rescues we lived with. Our running attire consisted of running shorts, sweat socks, and Asics in this weather. Jeremy’s resultant exposure highlighted the superb anatomy he honed.
Sweating profusely, our shorts must be just about soaked to see-through. Apparently deciding that we desired social media exposure, the lady brazenly approached us, Android raised and rolling.
Not. Neither desired nor happening.
The ill-mannered woman didn’t seem to hear or chose to ignore the polite request. Likewise, the second request. So, JFK’s plan B went into action.
“Luke, got your phone?” he palmed his hand my direction. Understanding his intent, without comment I retrieved my iPhone from the plastic baggie in my sweat sock, handing it over.
Jeremy raised the device, centered his face in selfie mode, set the video function to record and approached her. Phone in one hand, other hand lewdly cupping his prodigious package.
Head-on, he closed the gap between them, beginning his practiced response to such intrusions, “This be Brother J-Man, coming from Zilker Park in Austin. My man and I are finishing our morning workout here, folks, and are experiencing an uninvited and unacceptable encroachment by an elderly shemale—at least it appears to be-- in search of cheap-ass thrills.”
The pear-shaped woman didn’t lower her phone, continuing her recording of the minimally-clothed black stud before her. How Ugly-American is this woman, I thought? Go, J-Boy.
Jeremy continued his play-by-play, now flipping from selfie to projection of the video streamer herself, “May I introduce…Cruella De’Ville…recording us without our consent, from a public space here in the heart of Austin, Texas. Capitol city of the state where the Texas Recording Statute 16.02 of the Texas Penal Code --- a law prohibiting single consent recording --- is the law. Please say hello, Ms. Elderella, and could you tell everyone here on YouTube what your real name is so we may make proper attribution? Of course, we can just enter this video into the FBI data bank for auto-match, if you prefer.”
The middle age woman finally registered the scenario unfolding, wisely choosing to cease her rudeness. But, only under this flip back duress. She lowered her device, glowered toward the handsome man daring to stream right back at her streaming video, turned on her heel in retreat mode and vacated our vicinity. Epithets leaked loudly from her mouth in diarrheic nastiness, sealing her rep.
Awkwardly tripping over a brick in the paved walkway, she nearly capsized into the adjacent flower bed. “Stand up, Pearl, that is definitely NOT your best angle,” Jeremy snickered at the double-wide moonshot, “and if I find my sweaty butt on display by your recording upload, know that not just your extra-wide is gonna be next to it…your subpoena will be posted, too. Have a nice day, sweetie.”
I was stifling my own reaction to this hilarity. Both Jeremy and I were well aware that no such law existed in this casino-capitalistic realm. Austin existed as supremely weird, progressive and populated by the most professional populace in the big state. It was, nevertheless, under the quaintly regressive control of red-state ignorance, politically. No-holds-barred laissez-faire conservatism, as oxymoronic as that sounded, thrived here in the home of the Lone Star. Just like in Old West times, "Anything Goes" remained the state motto. As long as it pushed the far right agenda.
We routinely viewed Wyatt Earp and Dale Evans strutting the streets and by-ways of our city, leg irons strapped proudly on. Much to our chagrin. Dame Ann Richards must be turning over in her grave and Barbara Jordan’s sainted ghost was channeling Casper in blanched embarrassment, too, at the backasswardness holding sway here… disapproval duly noted.
Though not too common in an area full of self-absorbed college kids, there remained a small portion of the citizenry bent on vicarious involvement in others’ doings. The vaunted Ugly American Syndrome. Did we really wonder why the rest of the world viewed us the way they did? The myopic perception held by the Ms. De’Ville types lent itself to the firm belief that Texas was truly ‘God’s Country’… They really should travel more.
We forgot the gauche event quickly and brushed off the people rooting Jeremy’s actions. He and I ran one of our daily loops this way every few days, enjoying the verdant lushness of the area. Many amply-endowed bodies exercised here and attention to individuals approached mundanity at this point.
Jeremy and my jungle fever union had been a presence for years now, and we enjoyed relative anonymity, most times. Episodes such as this were less and less common in the 21st century, in contrast to our early days in the 1990’s. The novelty had worn off for the most part.
Discussing the upcoming trip as we headed back toward our home overlooking the old rock bedded, spring-fed public swimming hole, the two of us bantered easily about our hidden eyrie in the highlands.
While we loved the student-frequented park just south of Town Lake in downtown Austin and attended many of the great music offerings commonly hosted just out our front door, loyalties had markedly split upon discovery of Telluride, Colorado, several years before.
Property investment had overtaken us, far up the mountain, in a secluded glen. The rustic log home residing there captured us at first sight. Upon viewing the for-lease sign lying on the floor inside while window-peeking, we had gone all-in by our efforts to secure title to the place.
Months after that we had traveled there, papers in hand, reveling in the knowledge that we were proud owners of high country real estate. Having remodeled and updated the solid log edifice to our standards and style, we took off for it every chance we got. At some point, we would base ourselves there for good.
For the present, we furthered our careers here in the city, Dr. Jeremy Kell, Doctor of Philosophy, University of Texas flagship campus. Myself, Dr. Luke Cevennes, of UMC-Brackenridge Hospital ER. Colloquially known as Brack. We both seamed into our respective professions with satisfaction. The niches were comfortably fitted to our personalities and our college-town lives were exactly what we desired.
Until exposure to Telluride, that is.
“Honey, have you noticed the revving up of the religious right over the past two weeks?” I sat in our breakfast nook window alcove, cradling my coffee cup as I gathered knees to chest. A cool shower following the 10K fartlek just finished had rejuvenated the two of us, wiping away the effects of the stifling June hot spell currently holding the city in thrall. We now basked in the luxury of three days to ourselves after the spring semester culmination. “They are verging on apoplexy by the Faux-News pundits pontificating the End Times, you know.”
Jeremy lazed on the granite countertop, bare back propped against the wall, with the newspaper and his own coffee mug. He was nude, per usual, and in position to visually purview the park out the picture window beyond my seat. From this vantage, he could keep an eye on the distant goings-on below us.
Our home balanced on a rock cliff, fifty feet above the meadow below, the grassy stretch itself ending in a rock declivity which overlooked the crystal-clear springs. We enjoyed the three-dimensionality. With the regular gatherings for music and sports events, our seats were first rate.
The Nubian Prince lounging across from me liked the coolness of the stone against his cute butt and rangy legs. I wasn’t arguing. My view, either way, was great. Panorama or soft porn…nice choices. “Well, Lukester,” he replied, “we’re only a few weeks out from a SCOTUS ruling and the bigots are quaking in their sackcloth and thorns. Y’know they’re worried they could lose superiority over us dregs of society.” He continued perusal of the sports section, soaking up the latest UT baseball stats.
We had worn out the subject over the previous year, playing old King Nebuchadnezzar’s role with his ‘writing-on-the-wall’ storyline as one after another lower court ruling had upheld SSM right-to-misery, just like straight world couples… at least such was the description of nuptial nirvana as boasted by thumpers. One fringe argument had been to ask why the gay community would want access to such a miserable state of existence, anyway…? How odd.
Religious fundamentalists were still intent on reserving that right to themselves, convinced of the decline and fall of the empire should sexual perversion become codified constitutionally.
The conundrums of the contrasting factors were flagrant in our eyes. We hoped for a resounding decision in order to remove the inevitable asterisk the right would no doubt insist upon assigning to anything short of a Dred Scott-esque decision.
The bottom line, we felt, lay with the dichotomy in Christianity’s tenet of an all-knowing, all-loving God-figure who so lovingly insisted on a death sentence by stoning or cliff-throwing should His omniscient omnipotence be questioned. What cockamamie bullshit.
Like the institution had remained immutably transfixed through history, anyway. From chattel status of women and their ‘issue’, to political marriages, to economic-based marriages, to love-based man-on-woman arrangements, to interracial straight unions, yup, hard to imagine allowing any changes to such an unchanging tradition…
And the straight world had done such a bang-up job with its stewardship over long-lasting, stolidly trust-laden, God-condoned unions. Who the Hell were we low-life faggots (because they told us we were) to dream of living in the security of lifelong, loving relationships without discriminatory statutes to keep us in our sorry-ass place?
Most amazing was the gathering steam of the evangelists’ twisted logic that the challenge to their marriage monopoly inferred victimization of the downtrodden, woebegone Christian community. Had not this fallback strategy been the same one employed since Saint Peter had requested upside-down crucifixion? He just couldn’t stomach being tortured in the same manner as his Savior had been. That would have constituted blasphemy.
That saintly bequest to humanity had set in motion allegorical proof of victimhood for two thousand years, the Basilica the steadfast beacon of proof. Even though the literalist faction denied allegorical interpretation of their Good Book in dripping ironic contrast. After all, God had written every single word Himself and translations through the River of Time had had no effect on the original intent. The Word bespoke exactly what was written by Him... except when it didn’t.
They knew all this, of course, because of their holy conduit to Him by ersatz communication: aka prayer. Which no one but they were privy to. And if we didn’t believe it, just ask them… oh, and the deal came with a lifetime ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card as a hedge. Quite convenient.
“JK, you could be called a whole lot of things, but a dreg is not one of them, my man,” I replied aloud, “especially lookin’ like all o’ that.” He lifted one sinewy leg up and away from the other, allowing his junk to flop downward between them in response, giving me a better view of the little man. Confident in the effect such moves had on me, he employed similar tactics regularly. The paper never wavered from before his face but I could feel the grin from behind the newsprint.
After a few more minutes of communal reading, he concluded his thought on the subject, “I guess we’ll hear something in the next couple weeks, at least if the media has it right. Did I tell you that I heard back from San Miguel County last week? They are re-configuring the online forms in case of a favorable ruling and we should be able to download the new gender-neutral license apps the day after, if it happens.” Satisfaction suffused his voice.
“Oh, then I’d better get back ahold of Jake and Cal to confirm the dates, honey,” I knew this would advance our planned ceremony to more a probability than the possibility heretofore hoped. Indeed, our closest friends would be likewise solidifying plans for their own consummation and the thought warmed me.
An ER colleague, Jake Marshall was half of the partners-in-crime duo we had come to count on over the years as we traversed interracial existence along with them. Jake’s partner, Cal Broadhearst, was a UT alum, and twelve years out now. His entrepreneurial acumen had propelled him into the world of software stardom, now overseeing a network of five offices from his headquarters in the Frost Tower.
The couple had imprinted on our lives since Jake and my meeting on the red-eye shift together during his residency. We had been surprised to discover the similarity in our situations when we met up at a local eatery for an introductory dinner back then.
Choosing to meet at Truluck’s Seafood Grill, Jake and I arrived together and sat nursing glasses of wine in awaiting our guys. Both of them had shown up simultaneously and we watched them enter together, startling both us and the clientele by their twin-like images. Cal, or Calumet, was six-foot-six, leanly athletic, ebony-complexioned, shaved head and ripped in his conditioning. By comparison, my Jeremy measured in at only six-foot-three, alike in the ripped physique, swarthy skin and shaved pate departments. We had all four bonded immediately.
Amazed that both of us had spent years in Austin without meeting up before, the fact of their residence being located far in the northwest quadrant of the city, out on Lake Travis, might have accounted for that. Jeremy and I preferred urban life; our friends were rurally set.
Making up for lost time, we two duos had intermingled easily and now were ready to take the matrimonial plunge in corresponding fashion. A game-changing high court decision would allow fruition. On the other hand, rationalization had led the four of us to the decision of out-sourced formalities what with the current ascendance of home state social and political animus.
Cal and Jake kept a suite at the Hotel Jerome in Aspen, Colorado, as opposed to our hideaway in up-mountain Telluride, to the southwest. Frequent hookups between the venues allowed for camaraderie and commonality of purpose. Mutual intent was bent on witnessing for each other when and if the big day arrived. Carly Simon must have written her catsup ad song for us as our anticipation for legitimacy grew. Evangelism be damned…
Three days of solitude and togetherness mixed with a cookout at the Marshall-Broadhearst place overlooking the lake left us rested. We were ready for a home-stretch ten day run as our workloads diminished and plans for retreat to the mountains loomed.
Jeremy would be tying knots in loose-ends on campus while I was preparing the way for an extended leave-of-absence from Brack. Closing down the Zilker Park house was not a challenge as we had arranged for a trusted teacher’s assistant of JK’s to house-sit while we were away.
The grad-student was a bit of a loner, basking in quietude with books and the cyber-world more than living the fast lane, so we were content in the sanctity of the premises. The likelihood of keg parties and pole-dancing were next to nil, we knew, and his penchant for the occasional joint sat fine with us, as we partook some of the evil weed, as well.
While never dull during duty hours at Brack, the onset of summer and the desertion of campus by the huge student body as was happening now played out in relative calm. Jake and I sat in the physicians’ break room under less stress from pressing caseloads than normal. Lopping items from our to-do lists in planning for the trek north was proving gratifying,
“So, you really think Cal is gonna do it?” I thought the idea of a hot air balloon setting for their ceremony was romantic, if a bit crowded, considering the four of us and a pilot would be on board. But, cool, no less.
“He has mentioned ballooning three times in the past week, Luke, and you know how that man is. His sense of adventure way outstrips my introverted ass, boi,” his reasoning was sound. I had seen some wild-ass occurrences in my years associating with Cal B. Not much would surprise me. Jeremy joked that we would be forced up Kilimanjaro at some point. And he was OK with it, he had assured me, as long as he had a hand in picking the accompanying escort team…translation: hung studs with minimal wardrobes. The picture seemed fine by me…
“Have you guys thought anymore about the place on Ajax, Jake?” I was curious about the couple’s interest over the stand-alone home in Aspen. Their suite in The Jerome was superb, boasting two bedrooms and a master suite, fireplaces in every room and even a library/study. The upkeep was taken care of by the hotel, chef and butler included. The fact that they could rent out the place under a trusted management firm when the two were not in residence had them sitting pretty. It paid for itself.
Their balcony looking out on Aspen town and the mountain was spacious and well-equipped, too. We had shared time with them there on multiple occasions. So they had it good, but I had noticed Jake’s wistful look over dinner the past week as he contemplated the possibility of taking over the all-glass chalet high up the mountain.
Built by Leon Uris, the late author, the place had kept his secret sancha housed in style for the long-term back in the 1970’s and ’80’s. Almost the entire time he was married to his third wife, Jill. Conchita had been bosom buddies with Louise Lasser of ‘Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman’ fame, and Claudine Longet, Andy Williams ex-wife and Olympic Skier Spider Sabich’s lover. The idea of living in the architectural glass marvel amidst the spirits of such vixens had him near drooling-state, I could tell.
“Could you just imagine, living in the place where so much history played out, Luke?” He posed the question as he mentally signed on the dotted line. “Claudine hid there after she shot Spider, and Andy Williams had to come get her to help give herself up. That is just too cool for school,” he gushed.
“Well, you know how much Jeremy and I love our place way up higher than everyone—it is a neat feeling. And Cal could exist nude all winter in a proverbial glass house if you do it.” I egged him on, only half teasing. Jeremy and Cal loved clothlessness equally, and Jake delighted in the exultation of our men in that state as much as I did. Seeing that much gorgeous silky skin in such anatomically proportional relief was something we would never take for granted.
“Don’t forget, Uris reputedly wrote his epic, ’Trinity’, up there, too, Jake. Jeremy found that in Uris’s diary at Ransom Center on campus when he was researching the man. He dedicated the book to Jill but never did come clean about it all, the hypocrite. Why don’t people just get over the monogamy hang-ups they have and get along? Everyone would be better off, you know,” I opined.
Jake got it, and we snickered at the stupidity of such thought processes. Too many people thought a hard dick equaled love, and that depending on who the hard-on was pointed at determined fidelity…how off base was that? Hormonal impulses simply and plainly did not equate well to matters of the heart. He and I were living proof of the concept by the solidity of our relationships. Even if we were just anecdotal. By our calculation, America had a huge inferiority complex judging by the divorce rate.
Just as we were about to close the deal on the Ajax Mountain property and solve other pressing social problems, a sharp crack of thunder jarred our chat. Flickering of the lights ensued and finally, loss of power. Being in an internal room in Brack’s medical complex, the darkness proved pervasive. Our penlights streaked the dark room as we awaited the auxiliary power sources to kick on.
“Wow, that must’ve hit a transformer,” Jake said as he found his way to the bank of emergency closets on the side of the room, extracting flashlights.
The whole city had been under intermittent flood and storm threat the past month as the Hill Country of central Texas remained ensconced in the turbid trifecta of weather systems training over the area. El Nino had developed strongly to the west off the Peruvian coast since the spring and such an event always imbued volatility into our local forecasts. Just two weeks before, the tranquil rivers surrounding us had become raging walls of flash flooding, wreaking havoc on the surrounding multi-county area.
After the several day hot respite during our downtime, we were now experiencing another wave of training rain systems accompanied by thunder and lightning. The emergency generators were working overtime these past weeks in response to numerous challenges to the power grids.
We knew the ER complex would already be boosted by the power backups, but acritical parts of the complex where we were could take a while sometimes before power resumed. We made our way to the hallway and proceeded toward the treatment bays, intending to check triage status due to the sudden weather emergency onset.
Remarkably, the admissions center remained fairly quiet and we thanked the break between spring and summer terms as the probable reason. The staff had things well-controlled and the generators hummed synchronously amongst the ER sections. We weren’t needed, as it turned out, and administration verified our release from duty until the next day, so we exited the area for the locker rooms to change and head for home. I needed to assure the dogs were safe and not flipping out by the thunder rolls, though they were typically immune to the phobia some animals experienced.
Jake pulled up abruptly in the dark and deserted hallway connection, looking toward me, “Hear that? Something over that way,” his acute hearing regularly tested everyone, the sense attuned to things most people relegated to white noise. “Over there, Luke—I hear something strange.” Thinking he was noticing a sizzling breaker or dripping ceiling leak, I followed his lead toward the hallway door marked “Maintenance”.
Upon knobbing the door open, our eyes gradually acclimated to the surprising form of one sexy little janitorial supervisor, Tevin. He was presently busy humping an exposed set of buttocks. In the small of the recipient’s back there was tattooed a blood red cross, inscribed with John 3:16. The attached upper end of the person’s pasty buns descended beyond our view. Tevin, not to be flummoxed by the interruption, grinned at us and continued the slow slide in and out the welcoming hole.
Jake and I stood transfixed, staring at the spectacle, jaws surely widely gaping as we focused on the thick fatness of the diminutive maintenance man’s piece. Out-sized for his body— the man stood barely three inches over five feet tall--- he seemed quite at ease showing us what he had. He even turned just a tad sideways to allow better angle for us, not changing pace in the slightest. His small dark hand reached down and raised his work shirt tail up to his chin, wedging it there, exposing a kinky-haired flat stomach and muscled pectoral pair covered by indigo skin.
The hand returned to the cheek siding the crack where his whopper was pumping methodically in-and-out. “Wassup, docs?” he asked, as if we were nonchalantly passing him in the hallway. No sign whatsoever of chagrin, the mighty mite beamed at us while demonstrating his best feature. The endowment, thickly veined and rigid, showed at least eight inches between pumps, never exiting entirely. While we watched, the engorgement factor seemed to increase the big thing’s girth by another half. It liked the publicity, apparently.
The attached torso attempted raising up but the little palm squelched the action, deliberately pressing it back down into the shadows. “Stay down, bitch,” the order plain. The person did so.
To us, he quipped, “Check it out, dudes, Little Tev ain’t no wallflower now, you can touch ‘im. He’d be likin’ that, truth tell—go’head, check it.”
The two of us, no wallflowers either, were still taken aback by the brash behavior here inside the hospital confines. Jake glanced at me, looking for my reaction, and seeing my obvious interest in the proceedings, he riveted right back to it, obviously enthused by the exhibition. We fed on each other’s attentiveness as moments passed, and upon additional urging by the sybarite in front of us, Jake’s hand tentatively reached toward the conjoined junction. I inadvertently licked my lips and reached down to my own responding crotch as his fingers explored the hard slippery piece in its progress.
That pretty much sent the little guy over the edge and he backed out, exposing the eight inches already visualized, plus an extra two more buried until then. Uncut, with a nicely helmeted crown, the thing was definitely happy to be looked at. Tevin fairly levitated at the act of ejaculating before our singed eyes. The piece bounced on and off the butt just vacated, spewing sperm copiously over himself, Jake’s hand and arm, and the entire expanse of the recipient’s lower back. Some hit the surrounding closet space.
Obviously missing the squeezing heat of the chute, the honker re-entered almost immediately, sliding back in to the hilt. This evoked masculine groans from nether regions below at the re-stretching of the abused orifice. Finishing the cum-sequence, the root spasmed visibly until it spent itself.
The grin had never diminished; Tevin delighted in this impromptu performance, regaling us from his vantage point of ecstacy, “Day-umm, that shit bein’ jood, dudes…keep on with that rubbin’ doc--- don’t stop that hand, now, man— ‘dat be helpin’ this thing. Got…day-umm!”
Still completely at ease with the verboten scenario playing out here, Tevin reached up to access a towel on the closet room wall within his reach. The shit-eating grin finally diminished to a satisfied smirk as he handed it first to Jake. “There been some thunderin’ and lightnin’ goin’ on inside today, too, ain’t there, doc-dudes? Hopin’ we don’t spring no leaks --- that could be serious,” the man fixed his gaze on the spatters presently dripping around and off things. The man was incorrigibly unflappable.
I looked at Jake. He pointed at the still bent over and un-named torso, head still hidden somewhere in obscurity. Unseen and un-seeing. Whoever it might be more than likely did not desire ‘outing’. The logic suddenly dawned on us and we decided the better part of valor would be to vacate the premises. Post haste, and quietly.
To that point, we had neither one spoken out loud; it seemed wise to keep it that way. Other passersby could open a door and bust us any second, so we skedaddled toward the locker room. Opening the door to our private area, we stepped inside. A last glimpse backwards pictured a now disconnected shorty, wiping himself down, dong waggling languidly and still dribbling contentedly. The door slammed shut, leaving us safely unscathed by association.
“Can you believe the size of that? And who the hell was in there with him?” Jake was beside himself with curiosity. “Could you believe the way he was draggin’ that boot?”
“Well, Jake, you can sure testify it was real--- I nearly came watchin’ all that. Just too chicken shit to get into it here. You’ve got huevos, dude,” I assured him.
“Yeah, for brains, maybe. Damn, we were lucky no one walked in, weren’t we,” he replied. It wasn’t a question.
“No argument there, for sure, but that was damn hot,” and we changed, leaving by the side door into the continuing deluge. There was a story to be told, and our respective partners were avid listeners.
Juneteenth arrived hotly humid and partly cloudy. The storm systems had dissipated over the past few days, again, leaving the city time to dry out and patch itself up following the maelstroms that had wreaked havoc all around us. Being so elevated, our home had avoided any damage other than broken tree branches and shredded umbrellas. Many lower lying homes and businesses had suffered flood damage and more.
With the dawn, we kept an eye on the gathering multitudes below in the meadow, preparations already unfolding for the upcoming commemorative march, speeches, charity run, R&B/hip hop concert, family-oriented games, etcetera. The minority communities of Austin had combined with the left-leaning white population to put on the immense undertaking and we anticipated tens-of-thousands in our ‘front yard’ as the day progressed.
Jeremy was ready for our role-playing part, appearing downstairs in his MLK singlet with official entrant number clipped across the back before 5:30 AM. We were excited to join in the festivities and looking forward to the concert. Our best men, Cal and Jake, were on their way into town to join in, as well, and all of us planned to partake fully in the showcase that epitomized Austin’s liberal-leaning roots on the red-letter day.
When the boys arrived, we descended to the big field, now populated by multi-colored booths, gaming areas and a large elevated stage, erected a few days before for the music makers. Vibrant banners and pennants decorated the ground zero zone. Multi-hued people filled the grassy expanse even before 7 AM. Behind the stage there arose a monolithic screen used to play video accompaniment for the artists preforming later in the day.
The staggered starting times for the 5K, 10K and 20K runs were calculated. Our longer run began first. We four were entered as a team, shooting to set PR times for ourselves thereby maximizing our charity donations. Each had shanghaied friends and co-workers into backing us and set a tiered scale of contribution for incentive to excel. Anything sub 1:10 (1 hour and ten minutes) as an individual finish time would max out our donors. We were resolved to do so.
The track, while beginning at the springs, wound around the running trails of Town Lake--- aka Lady Bird Lake, nowadays--- and the numbers entered made for a crowded race, typical for the aerobically obsessed town of Austin. We got a good start and bunched together the first 5 or so miles. By the second loop around the race course, there was mingling with the 5K and 10K entrants. Bottlenecks were counted as ‘natural hazards’ so contestants who desired a competitive finish were forced to strategize through the choke points.
We had gotten separated from our buds but knew them to be close-by due to our comparable gaits. Jeremy and I were comfortable in our stride and on schedule for breaking personal records as we approached the 10-mile mark. While taxing, we were pacing well. Planning for the upcoming bridge passage with its notorious congestion during multi-tiered races was on schedule.
Upon hitting the half way point on the Congress Street bridge, the logjam intensified. Even with our plan, we were slowed to almost a halt. Breaking our stride was frustrating as rhythm provided the best measure for continuity in long-distance racing.
We soon discovered the reason for the extra slowness forced on us. Ahead, we discerned a flock of people bearing signs and placards who had swarmed the narrow bridge and now blocked the greater portion of its width. Closing in, we were able to decipher the home-made posters.
Most bore Bible verses, but others boasted vituperative slogans decrying not only the namesake day, but many minority-based issues. ‘Stop hijacking the rainbow’ was a favorite, followed by ‘No Socialism’. Right amidst them were the Leviticus-shrieking crowd with their ‘faggots burn in Hell’ and ‘God hates queers’ messages. There were worse ones, but what stood out to the race contestants were the carriers. To a person, almost all wore masks of scowling spitefulness. Most were noticeably out-of-shape and suffering in the heat of the day. Police contingents arrived within moments, already on stand-by. The rabble was herded unwillingly to one side in making way for the racers.
As we were all running for charities of some sort and not injecting political undertones into the event, it baffled us as to the motives on display. Jeremy punched me as we were escorted past a particularly rabid knot of protesters, gesturing at them, “Look, Luke, see who is in the middle right there. See--- the lady holding the ‘I Am Here: You WILL Hear Me’ sign?”
I hadn’t focused on any of them until then, choosing instead to ignore the contingent and focus on the race. But looking now, I spied the person he was indicating: the pear-shaped, video-streaming woman from a few weeks back. The rude person who had accosted us on a morning run. “Damn, honey, that is just sick, huh?”
I then noticed the lady was holding hands with and flanked by a man helping hold the demanding message aloft. It was none other than Brack’s resident Southern Baptist hospital pastor, Marcus LeJeune. The man was a demagogue of magnificent lung power and preach-ability. The man was on par with the best-- or worst-- of his sect. Vocal as a religious-liberty mouthpiece, the man had rendered himself persona-non-grata with just about the entire staff of the University Medical Center. Heaping self-righteousness and insults at every turn and providing precious little in the way of Christian love along his way. His radio talk show was apparently lucrative for the man of God and he kept up appearances by ‘volunteering’ at the hospital. His Christian duty to serve, he claimed… most of the hospital would much prefer if he would shirk it a little more than he did.
The man, while not as obese as a majority of the group, was alabaster pale, wore extra-thick, over-sized black-rimmed glasses and sported a tacky comb-over hairstyle which was presently plastered in long orange-dyed strands over his bulbous head. The man’s bug eyes were particularly so today what with the humidity and the vehement verse-spewing bombardment aimed at the runners.
Just then, a tap on my shoulder alerted me to Jake and Cal pulling alongside us. Jeremy filled in Cal on the Elderella lady’s antics and Jake excitedly pointed at the Pastor LeJeune. “Luke, quick, look there--- LeJeune’s got his hands up holding the sign…look down at his lower backside when he turns.”
I panned down to the area. Through the ugliness of the exposed fat rolls, with his hands elevated and swaying to-and-fro as we passed him by, his lower back was bared. In the doing, he was showing the world his strong Christian character: a blood-red crucifix emblazoned with John 3:16 tattooed across the transverse of the cross…Jake and I stared at one another in shocked recognition and then burst into peals of laughter.
Cal leaned down into our faces, “What IS up with all this, dudes? You two enjoyin’ the hate, now--- or what?”
Jeremy, equally mystified, pow-wowed with us three, scarcely able to tear himself from his desire to approach the woman again and confront her duplicity head-on. He absolutely detested hypocrites, and wasn’t shy in the least at calling such tripe out into the open. Well, I thought, wait ’til he and Cal hear this.
Jake and I took turns reminding the boys of our weird encounter in the maintenance closet at Brack a few days before during the power-outage. Between fits of laughter at the 10-mile mark of a half-marathon, it proved difficult. We finally got to the description of the tattoo we had seen on the bent over ‘bitch’ who’s face had never been visualized. The delicious knowledge that the erstwhile Pastor LeJeune’s very distinct marking had been recognized in such an illuminative manner was priceless…
Wonder how many get-out-of-jail free cards this might require…for that matter, wonder how many he had already used? Hmmmmm.
Though we missed our PR’s due to the hold-up, the four of us felt fulfilled and absorbed the disappointment. We wondered if further hijinks might play out by the antagonists. After finishing the race, we four regrouped up at the house. Showers and clean clothes made us whole again, then we re-joined the day’s events.
Roasted turkey legs and margaritas later, the band-hands were setting up, techies were revving up the big screen and we lounged on the big blanket toted down with us. The blanket next to us passed a cannon- sized joint our way. After us, it went winding amongst the other partakers. The mood lightened nicely. We laughed some more about the two-faced bitterness of the LeJeune couple while conjecturing the upcoming speakers. There had been numerous factions and activists sign up to address the crowd and we all anticipated some rip-roaring talks considering the issues being debated…or sound-bited. The speeches were the political platform of the day’s forum.
“Wassup, doc-dudes?” The familiar voice perked both Jake’s and my ears up. We looked around as Supervisor Tevin waltzed over to our spot. “How’s it hangin’, the lights all on today?” He was wearing nothing but baggie cut-off jeans and flip flops. In thug fashion, the pants hung low on the small man’s hips, but no drawers were underneath them. His attractive little ass cracked like a sunrise. The little lech certainly knew how to broadcast himself. By the outline down his leg, he was succeeding in his mission. Cal leaned over to me and queried, “Where’s the imagination there, now?” He wasn’t dissing the man. His feeling was to show what you got, but the blatancy was unusual. Even through the oversized leggings, the humongous piece appeared just that--- humongous. Cal’s own endowment exceeded the package, but at 6’6”, his was lessened by the difference in proportion. I knew of each by firsthand knowledge… but that is another story entirely.
I whispered at Cal about Tevin’s identity as Jake introduced him out loud, surprised at seeing him. Inviting him to sit, we hawked the nearby blunt as it floated near again and within a minute, the little guy chatted even more easily with us. He seemed pleased at being invited to stop, apparently expecting sheepishness on our parts due to the closet episode. He was disabused of the idea as our men openly discussed it, obviously aware. After absorbing the openness he warmed to joking about the situation, even alluding to the ID of the Pastor involved though still not naming him. Seems that money had been involved and a repeat rendezvous hoped for--- discretion was likely a requirement for that.
A few more tokes and the tripod guy was forgetting his reticence, “Yeah, the boot be worked over, now, but it takes deposits…and does those withdrawals, too. The wrinkled dude comes lookin’ a couple times a week for this good stuff,” --- pointing at the bulge--- and I noted other eyes following that point to its target. “Always put dat bootie in the darkest closets and then it just be OK. That storm day, all the lights were out. Had to light us up wit’ my phone to get goin’ that time…I don’ like the seein’ it too much, but the pumpin’ bein’ fine, now. Ask the doc-dudes, they seen it all with those flashlights,” still proud of the action.
Then, Jake hit on something I hadn’t thought of, “Hey, Tevin, when you lit it up, did that video switch on, too?”
The grin said it all, “Hell to da’ yes, I got that streamin’ now--- trannie friend o’ mine done paid for that shit, likes seeing my stuff all worked up, so’s I got double-down payday on that. Shit yeah, set dat over on the wall inside that door and got ten minutes goin’ on--- ‘til these boys come in an’ knocked the damn thing on de’ floor. Lost it, then,” again, pleased with himself. Recording his stuff for posterity, no doubt.
“OK, bra, that is hot. You gonna let us have a copy of that, too, right?” This from Jeremy, who had been listening closely. “We missed all that action, and our boys been filling us in on what’s packin’ down there--- we’re ready to check it out, how about?” We all followed the idea forming as he spoke and concurred.
It worked. The shorty took the attention as an ultimate compliment coming from Jeremy, “Yeah, I can be doin’ dat, a’ight. I can pass that shit over right here, right now, got ya’ phone?” Jeremy pulled it out and in a minute, the deed was done.
“We be strokin’ to that, Tevin, thanks Bra,” he wasn’t kidding. Jeremy had already laid the babies twice--- and that was just by hearing the story. I imagined Cal had likewise put it to Jake, too, knowing those two. But, the true value was to come… soon. “Hell, it may just hit the silver screen someday, if that be OK…?”
“Sho ’nuf, big man, that be dope, now. A’ight,” he was fine with just about any exposure of the downstairs dweller. Who says the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach?
Cal and Jeremy had been up to the house for a minute and we had finished off our third margarita. Tevin wandered off in search of the next conquest, showin’ off the wares, knowing that he would be making choices in the quick future. Three people had nearly waylaid him just in our vicinity and we snickered at the man’s hutzpah.
The Juneteenth speakers had throttled the crowd up incrementally and all were finally awaiting the keynote by Lonnie Lynn, Junior. Fresh off the production of Selma, the man was integrally involved with the 21st century Civil Rights Movement, the successor of Emancipation. Austin had been lucky to corral the singer, poet, actor and philosopher into addressing the progressive enclave here.
As the stage cleared and the mayor introduced the man of the day, the guys returned. “Just in time,” J-Man said, and we settled in for it.
L.R. Lynn, Jr., aka Common, wowed us by his message, espousing the essence of American ideals as embodied in the Constitution, signed into being by the Founders. The man informed us that the new generation coming up after the Millennials would be adopting that namesake, as well. The New Founders were destined to take our divided country onward as originally intended, he intoned. Toward the realization of the dream: Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness with Equality for All. Rule by the Majority with the Protection of the Minorities. In Peace. The rest of us, he told, must prepare for their coming of age by fighting tooth and nail for the rights under attack by the forces committed to assailing them.
He finished as the crowd, in unison, voiced their standing approval. And the bands kicked it up to entertainment level. We four decided to vacate up to the house and enjoy the music in the comforts. On the way, distant chants from around the bend and down toward Town Lake filtered over the music. Jake and I diverted to check out the source, pretty certain of what we would find. But Cal and Jeremy herded us both away and back up our stairs.
“It’s who you think, all right, boi’s, but it’s already been taken care of,” they grinned. Like Cheshire cats.
From our deck, a bottle of the good red was cracked. Our men assured that an occasion was upon us. We listened to the good music, but our ears were cocked toward the lake. Sure enough, the sounds of loud speakers bit into the hip hop song, and the gang of rabble-rousers from the bridge appeared. Nasty signage still proclaimed their twisted and decidedly un-Christian values. Crude and thoughtless discord spread their lies as they waddled toward the concert crowd. The hypocrites halted, almost directly below us. Pastor LeJeune and his wife led them, controlling the message.
Cal toasted Jeremy as we watched their looks of smugness. The huge HD screen backing the stage abruptly tracked, as if on cue, to a shadowed haze. The music video had changed to a very blurry image of rhythmic motion in shades of blacks and whites in time with the band’s beat. As we watched, the focus sharpened and gradually grew into a large black penis plowing a pallid white, flabby ass. The crowd gasped collectively as a blood red crucifix with John 3:16 in foot high relief plastered across it blasted the eyes of the thousands present. It was a religious lesson none would soon forget. Parents screamed at kids to look away, others gawked and cat-called the hard core flick playing out before their surely lying eyes. And the band kept playing… kind of like it were planned. Somewhere, Tevin was a star.
The fundamentalist faction slowly became aware of the video footage and dropped their offensive cadence to gape as well, until only the pastor and his wife were left bellowing into their bullhorns, still not facing the screen. With perfect timing, the screen image flipped to a new image of the revered pastor, himself, on his knees. Not praying, but attempting to perform fellatio on the same oversized black organ. In a most ungodly manner.
The bullhorn and the female screeching accompaniment wavered and fell silent, gawking like the rest of us at the re-enactment of a broom closet hookup. The audible sounded above the suddenly pianissimo hip hop song, “Suck that, bitch, just like you always suck that big, black dick you love… filthy bitch.”
The flick tracked back to the planned accompaniment and the band ratcheted up again…
“Hooter Man,” Jeremy shouted up to the roof, “You’re late! Get down here boi, quick!” He almost never raised his voice, so I knew something was definitely up. Too, he had used my uncommon nickname---Hooter--- as he did only when appealing to my intellectual side. My obsession with the majestic avian predators, owls, existed on a purely physiological plane. To understand everything about them. Jeremy had extrapolated that to the wives’ tale involving the wisdom thing… go figure.
I put down my treatise by Avicenna, the eleventh century Muslim Physician and Philosopher, stood under the mist system to cool down then dried off, flip-flopped up and wrapped the towel around my speedo. My fiancé preferred tan lines and milky white ass staring at him when he was in the mood, which was almost always, so I used the beat-down Austin sun rays to stay in tone. Coppertone.
Descending to the second floor balcony entrance into our bedroom, I was met by a bear hug and a face lick, “My man, It - Be - Done, Baby! We are on the road tomorrow. We’re gettin’ married in the morning, wassssupp!?”
“Blow me, JK… they did it?” I was astonished, even though we had been awaiting a ruling for the past three days. The trepidation had been killing us. Our suitcases and dog stuff were already in the trunk of the Benz in expectation, yet the news made my skin prickle. Jeremy swung me up over his shoulder and we took off down the stairs, both dogs celebrating whatever in their following--- anything constituted a party for the two.
Seeing the announcement real-time on the news for a second made it true. Picking up my cell, he handed it to me and I speed-dialed Jake. Answering on the first ring, the two howled into the receiver together, drowning our ears in gibberish. After the cacophonous opening, we traded congrats, agreed to meet on the road at daylight and convoy to Colorado cross-country. Pitkin and San Miguel Counties were about to be changed forever.
June 26th, 2015, C.E…. A 5-4 decision, Obergefell v. Hodges was close but decisive nonetheless. There would probably be repercussions for months or years. But the shoe had dropped. The call ended upon Jake’s note that he was being piggy-backed. Code for about to be ravished…the line went dead.
Jeremy took the cue and my speedo was ripped in half on our way to the floor. We couldn’t wait for the onset of the misery.
Three days later found the four of us ascending in a rainbow-striped hot air balloon as the dawning sun peeked over Ajax Mountain. The pilot, a lesbian friend, guided us to 14000 feet above sea level, then resumed her day job as an Episcopalian pastor. Cal’s and Jake’s vows reinforced the basis for honesty and openness in everything, the rest would fall into place. Very simple. Lifelong commitment was hardly new when the two soulmates had been on that road for eight years. The future looked rosy, and the boys told us of their plans for a summer in Cal’s hometown bonding and reacquainting with the large family he had grown up among. Their honeymoon in Aspen had been planned as a cosseted period to acclimate to the status America had belatedly allowed them.
We all trekked together through the splendor of southwest Colorado a day later, dead ending into the box canyon that hid Telluride town. Our log home had been opened, aired, and readied for our arrival by friends and neighbors of the mountain community. The county clerk, true to her word, streamlined our license and certificate processing in the quaintly handsome, period red brick San Miguel County Courthouse. County Judge Rickenmeier proved himself welcoming to our application.
Marise, the same presiding Episcopalian pastor to do the honors for the Marshall-Broadhearst ceremony honored ours as well, at the pond side setting outside our home. Mountain Columbine bell flowers were rife around the waterside. My denizen hoot owl of the old blue spruce shading our balcony, welcoming to us since we had moved in six years before, called out during the small ceremony at the time of mountain dusk. Twinkling white lights entangled with the bell flowers were everywhere. Neither the white lights nor the blue flowers signified virginity. Only contentment.
Our wedding eve dinner party at Allred’s up on the Peak matched the altitude of our best men’s moment at 14000 feet, a pre-planned idea. The private party of forty toasted the life of misery heretofore denied.
Our plans were to change the ever-loving religious sufferers’ self-proclaimed curse to one of positivity and optimism… it had only taken Jeremy and me eighteen years of companionable bliss to break through the ceiling.
America had taken one small step toward minorities and a huge step forward for Humanity…to paraphrase a time-honored space quote. The Kell-Cevennes family had, indeed, arrived. Sky-high.
Ahem and Amen…
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