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  2. If I've learned anything about friendship, it is to hang on, stay connected, fight for them and let
    them fight for you.
    Don't walk away, don't be distracted, or too busy or tired. Don't take them for granted.
    Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together
    Powerful stuff.

    - Jon Katz 

  3. MacGreg

    Elk1.jpg

    I believe those elk are illegally parked.
  4. Hermetically Sealed

    Chapter 11

    I think people need to keep some perspective on what Richie is dealing with. To start off, lets remember he is 15 and was about 12-13 years old when his father walked out. His first time meeting his "step family" was by accident when he saw his father with (what Richie most likely felt) was his family's replacement. At that same age, he was having to take care of his younger two siblings and his dying mother. That is a tremendous amount to place on anyone, much less someone barely a teen. Two years of carrying that burden nearly alone, and his father suddenly decides he's going to be in their lives again, goes against his mother's wishes and moves the "replacement" family into Richie's home and forces the children to stay with him, rather than their aunt and uncle. He does this fully expecting everyone to act as if nothing had happened, then gets angry and physical when Richie fails to just play along. Yeah, it isn't surprising Richie has made many objectively bad choices. But, he was also dealing with inordinate stresses, while not getting the mental health support he needed. Add on the situation with Wade's death, literally weeks after his mother died and his father decided to bully his way into Richie's life, things cannot rationally be expected to go well. Keep in mind, this entire story from his mom's funeral to now has only been maybe a month, month and half. In a perfect setting, yes, Richie is being an ass. In context of what he has been dealing with, and the age at which he has had to, I cannot in good faith make that same determination.
  5. Wayne Gray

    Wayne’s Randomness

    Exactly as described in the name.
  6. Wonderful story, with enough twists and turns to make it interesting. Heartwarming in the end (which is something us romantics like). Many thanks for writng & posting it. Tom
  7. droughtquake

    Chapter 11

    My parents knew how stubborn I could be and I am now surprised at how much I got away with because they just got tired of dealing with my ‘determination’ (as one of my therapists described it). ;–)
  8. droughtquake

    Chapter 11

    I think in his extremely clumsy way, the sperm donor is trying to reach out to Richie. He just has no idea how to do it. I hope the new wife is helping to moderate his life and getting him to think through the consequences of his actions. He seems to have impulse control issues. Richie seems to be impulsive too. He doesn't just resemble his sperm donor in physical features. I think their similarity causes conflict.
  9. Now, that’s definitely a fun dream. ❤️ Thanks, Kitt.
  10. GanymedeRex

    Chapter 1

    Second pass for this story - lots of smiles!
  11. Palantir

    Chapter 1

    Welcome to the story! I hope you continue to enjoy the friendships as well as lots of smiles.
  12. Spectacular chapter! You’ve brought this difficult and horrible story to all of us in a realistic and dynamic way. The depth of emotions, the complexities of all of these characters, the truly horrific tale of the assault and the enormously traumatic road to recovery for each and every one of them. This was a very difficult story to read, but was told in a empathetic and supportive way. I’m proud of the way you handled this situation. I’ve fallen in love with all of the characters and wish them well going forward. Thank you for having the courage to tell us this story. 😢❤️
  13. Kitt

    Dreamer’s Disease

    Quit dreaming and start recording dude!
  14. Ronyx

    Chapter 11

    I know I was. As a teen, I was extremely bullheaded. If my mother made me mad about something, I would give her the 'silent treatment.' I could go for days or even weeks refusing to look at her or speak to her. It drove her nuts; and being a teenager, I loved it. 😁
  15. mfa607

    Afterword

    Jason! You picked the best ending! Otherwise, I think some people might have tracked you down! Thank you so much for the story and your thoughts behind it! Bravo! Mark
  16. This is a great chapter, and what a wonderful appearance from Patrick! He created a lovely card. Now let’s hope Theo will get the right message...
  17. What a great chapter!! I’m so glad Patrick made an appearance!! I love that story! Can’t wait to see what Theo thinks about the tattoo!!
  18. Today
  19. Sablo woke slowly, savoring the scent of his beloved cupid and the fact neither of them had any pending missions, so they could enjoy a morning in bed. He reached out, but all his hand touched was a large bundle of cloth. His eyes flew open, and he groaned as the memory of the previous night exploded in his brain. He buried his face in the bed linens and inhaled Theo’s delicious scent while wishing it had all been a nightmare. The door to the room opened, and Diego entered carrying two large coffees and a bag of donuts. When Sablo sat up, he handed him one of the cups. “You’re awake. Good, we need to get going.” “What time is it?” “Six-thirty in the morning, locally.” “Shit, that means it’s almost midday back home.” “Yup, so we need to get busy. I thought we could go shopping in London.” “In that case, I’m going to timetravel a couple of weeks back and visit the card shop. That should make it possible for Patrick to create a card for Theo, so I can pick it up later today.” “Who’s Patrick?” “He’s the husband of the father of a young boy I was short-term Guardian for a few years ago. He has special abilities to sense the emotions and needs of his customers and from this design a personal card to convey how they feel about the recipient.” “Sounds interesting.” “I’d let you come with me, but I think we need to be careful. I have the feeling Patrick might be one of those sensitive humans Azrael was talking about. In addition, we’re supposed to get permission before going back in time, and you should avoid getting into trouble with Ariel. We don’t want to mess up the award, right?” “Fuck the award! I’m not interested in a stupid ceremony where a bunch of Guardians stare at me while Ariel makes a boring speech.” “We could ask Theo to bring a group of Cupid friends.” “Assuming you and Theo are on good terms by then.” “Way to ruin my appetite, bro.” “Well, finish up, then, and let’s go. Tell me which area of London the card shop is in, and I’ll find a tattoo shop and a place to buy a bike.” “OK, but let me check my phone first. Did you get a reply from Theo?” Diego shook his head. Sablo took a deep breath and switched his phone on. After waiting a bit, he admitted to himself there were no messages for him either. He sighed and turned the phone off again. It was better not to give Ariel an easy way of tracking him while he went back in time. “What about all my stuff?” “I’ll take it to my room at Guardian Central on the way.” “OK, let’s rock and roll.” *** Sablo popped out in a secluded spot in the park near the area where Patrick’s card shop was located. He was wearing jeans, a Metallica T-shirt and a leather jacket. The custom-made rainbow Converse sneakers on his feet were a gift from Theo. On his walk to the shop, he pondered what to tell Patrick to convey his need without revealing too much about himself and Theo. Luckily, Patrick was alone in the shop, and Sablo decided not to waste any time. “I’ve had a quarrel with my boyfriend, and I need a card to tell him I’m sorry.” “I see. Let’s sit down and talk this over. Are you saying the quarrel was your fault?” Sablo sat down on the sofa where Michael, his charge, had slept on the day Patrick met him and his father, Peter. The cardmaker chose the chair at the end of the low table, closest to him, and got out his notebook. “I told my brother something my boyfriend had confided to me. When he found out, we had an argument, and I said some very stupid things. Theo accused me of not respecting him and his work, and I’ve realized he’s right. He threw me out, and I need to ask him to forgive me. Also, I want to tell him I’ll do my best to work on my prejudices about his line of work, and to be more aware of his wishes in our relationship.” “Wow, that’s quite a mouthful. I’m not sure I can do this on the spot. It will probably take several days.” “Oh, that’s all right. I won’t be able to give Theo the card right away. He’s away on a job for the next two weeks.” Patrick raised his eyebrows at the slightly strange explanation, but when Sablo didn’t elaborate, he shrugged and made some more notes. “What does your boyfriend do?” “Um, he has various jobs, but the one we disagreed about is him being a matchmaker and arranging romantic first dates for people.” Sablo went a little red when Patrick stared at him. “You mean he plays cupid for people looking for love?” “Yes, that’s a good way to put it.” “And what is your problem with this?” “I guess I thought it was frivolous and silly, but I have to admit he has a great success rate. After we became a couple five years ago, I should have realized Theo is every bit as dedicated to making people happy, as I am to their safety.” “Are you a police officer?” “I used to be, but now I’m more of a bodyguard.” The cardmaker jerked as if stung, and Sablo knew he’d made a mistake. “You…I thought you looked familiar. But how…?” Patrick clutched the side of his head, as Sablo jumped to his feet in a panic. Shit, shit, shit. This guy is much too perceptive. He was about to bolt, when he felt a hand on his arm. “No, wait, don’t leave. I don’t mind who—or what—you are. You kept our son safe.” Sablo sat down again and took some deep breaths to calm his nerves. They stared at each other for a few moments, and then Patrick shook his head, smiling slightly. “I’m going to make us a nice cup of tea and dig into my stack of chocolate biscuits. I won’t ask any questions about you or tell anyone about this visit.” Sablo wiped the sweat off his brow and muttered his thanks. If Ariel ever got wind of this, his ass would be toast. When Patrick had set the mugs of tea and a plate of chocolate chip cookies on the table he sat down and picked his notebook up from the floor. He looked at his visitor sternly. “Tell me what you want the card to say. At least be honest about your feelings of love, remorse, and hope.” Sablo winced but spilled his guts. Somehow, it seemed the only option. *** Diego was waiting for Sablo in their agreed meeting spot near the British Museum, when he returned to the present to collect his card. “How did it go?” “I think the card will be great, but there was one small problem. Do you think Azrael knows any spells to make humans forget they saw a Guardian Angel?” “Please tell me you’re joking.” When Sablo shook his head, Diego slapped his palm against his forehead. “Honestly, Sablo. You’re a walking disaster sometimes.” “He promised he wouldn’t say anything or ask questions. I think he’s good about keeping confidences, so it may be OK.” “I’m going in there with you. I want to meet this guy and judge for myself.” “Fair enough. Did you find the other things we wanted?” “Yep, you have an appointment with a local tattooist half an hour from now. The uniform, roses and balloons are waiting at my office, and I’ve checked out a couple of bicycle shops. We should probably go there first.” “Awesome. What about the black kitten?” “I thought about it, and maybe it’s not a good idea to have a live kitten to keep track of. I bought a plushy toy instead, and you can tell Theo it represents a promise to get him a real kitten if he wants one.” “Pretty smart thinking, bro.” “Also, I wasn’t sure you can actually bring home pets from Earth.” “We probably have to fill out a form.” They grinned and high-fived each other. *** Walking gingerly to avoid aggravating his sore butt, Sablo led the way to the card shop. After peering inside to make sure Patrick was alone, he opened the door. The cardmaker got up from his work place at the back of the shop and moved to greet them. When he noticed Diego next to Sablo, his mouth formed the shape of an astonished O. “I’ve come to collect my card.” “Um, right. It’s ready for your approval.” Patrick pointed to the large envelope lying on the counter at the front of the shop. Sablo took it and slid the card out. Now it was his turn to imitate a dead fish. “Oohhh, wow,” Diego murmured as he looked at the card over his brother’s shoulder. “I see why you wanted to use this artist.” At the bottom of the card, a kneeling knight in shining armor was holding out his arms with a sword lying balanced across his palms. His head was bowed, and long golden locks obscured his face. Tiny red hearts made paths to the three images surrounding the knight supplicant. Above him, a golden bow and a black quiver decorated with silver hearts pierced with arrows leaned against a granite boulder in a glade surrounded by mighty oak trees. Tiny flowers of all colors dotted the grass, and a small brook wound its way across the clearing in the background. A pair of white turtle doves cuddled together on a large oak branch to the left. On a similar perch to the right, a beautiful owl and a majestic raven were having a serious conversation. Sablo ghosted a fingertip over them and realized the images were enhanced with small pieces of real feathers. “Wisdom and knowledge. Just perfect.” The image to the left of the knight looked like an abandoned picnic scene. Two mountain bikes leaned against a tree in the background and an open basket stood on a grey blanket which was dotted with plates containing remnants of food. A closer look made the brothers chuckle, because a horde of small fairytale creatures were climbing the sides of the basket and stealing the goodies or taking a tour among the plates. The Two Bad Mice of Beatrix Potter were making off with a chunk of cheese and a sausage. A group of naughty fairies had knocked over the open bottle of champagne, making the contents flow onto a deep plate with four or five left-over strawberries. Some of the tiny beings were already drunk and draped across the red heart-shaped fruits; others were sitting at the edge of the plate and drinking from acorn cups. One naked boy fairy was frolicking around in the lake of bubbly drink. To the right of the kneeling figure, a jumble of different images somehow came together to make a visually pleasing patchwork. Diego spotted a blue eye dripping silver tears, a hand cupping an unfolding pink rose, and the wing of a swan – or was it an angel? – before Sablo slid the card back into the envelope. His hands were shaking as he laid the envelope on the counter and wiped his eyes. “Thank you, Patrick. It’s amazing.” He had to clear his throat a couple of times, and Diego squeezed his shoulder in sympathy. “Every detail and the colors, all of it….” He bowed in speechless admiration. Diego took over. “How much do we owe you?” The cardmaker shook his head. “Nothing.” The brothers gaped at him. “But this must have taken many hours to create,” Diego pointed out. He’d already dug a bunch of ten pound notes out of his pocket, since he was the one in charge of finances. “No more than the time your brother spent making sure Michael was safe during and after his heart surgery. Maybe even before, too?” “Um, yeah, about that–” Sablo began, but Patrick waved his hand to cut him off. “If you want to make me forget your visits, go ahead. Just don’t destroy my ESP, that’s all I ask.” Sablo looked at his brother, who shrugged. “I think we can trust him. You said he put an image of you on the card he gave the boy five years ago, but there’s been no rumor about us.” Diego didn’t need to add ‘in the human world’; Sablo knew what he meant. “I stored the card away after we came home from hospital, and Michael has forgotten about his guardian angel.” “It was my pleasure as well as my duty. You don’t have to give me this card in return.” Sablo picked the envelope up and cradled it against his chest. “Michael and Peter are priceless gifts, and I’m more than happy to help you and your cupid in return. Just tell me: did he hit my husband and me with arrows when we met?” Sablo made a choked noise, and Diego face-palmed. Patrick laughed and made shooing motions at them. “That explains so much. Now, off with you! Save your own relationship and be happy. I swear I’ll never tell anyone, not even Peter.” Somehow, Diego managed to catch hold of his brother and get them both out of there and back to his room in Guardian Central. There, they collapsed on his bunk bed and tried to regain their composure. “Ow, shit. Why did I agree to your stupid idea of a tattoo?” “Stop whining. You should heal in a jiffy, now you’re back here.” “Hmm, you’re right. It’s already feeling less sore. Good thing, since Theo likes to clutch my ass when we f–” “Hold it right there, I do not wish to know this.” “Pussy prude. You blushed when I asked you to take a picture of the tattoo.” “It was a risk to turn on your phone, even for those thirty seconds. What if Ariel had homed in on us?” “Well, he didn’t, and if he had, you could have distracted him, while I collected the card.” “That card may have been one of your most risky plans in several decades. You’d better hope Theo and Ayil never find out a human now knows cupids are real.” “Aww, relax. Who would believe him? Not without him letting on about the ESP, and he’s too sensible to reveal that. He’d have all kinds of government agencies and dodgy firms hunting him down.” “True that. Now, before Ariel finds out we’re back, you’d better get into costume.” “Can you find out where Theo is, while I do that? Maybe check if his bike is at the apartment. If not, we’ll have to try Cupid Central. Where’s my new racer, by the way?” “I popped back and left it outside GC, round the corner, while the tattoo guy put a bandage on your sorry ass. How will you get Theo to come outside?” “What do you think I needed the butt photo for? I’m going to send him a text.” “Are you crazy?” “Yes, I’m crazily in love with Theo, and I’ll do anything to get him back.” “Good luck, bro.”
  20. Good Thursday, and this has to be among the most remarkable recordings of Haydn ever made. The symphonic version of The Seven Last Words of Christ, led by Antoni Ros-Marbà, conducting the Orchestre de Chambre de Catalogne in 1965. Rarely is spiritual presented in such a spiritual way; it's amazing.
  21. Steve's latest victory encouraged Robby WINNR
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