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Nick Brady

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About Nick Brady

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    Still figuring it out
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  1. Thank you ObicanDecko. We can assume that life will continue to be challenging but that they will face it together- with Pepper's help. 😃
  2. For a gay couple to survive in 1960s Bible belt mean either relocating or maintaining a very low profile. Ian and Andrew chose to move to a less judgemental environment. This story could go on and on, but I wanted to follow them to the point where they had a bright future and leave the rest to the imagination of the reader. Surely they will have struggles as all couple do whether gay or straight, but I chose to leave them on a happy note.
  3. Love is Blind - 9 Copyright Nick Brady 2019. All rights reserved. ==========////=========== “We don't have to do the same job to work for the same company,” I pointed out. “We need to think about how we're going to do this. I can't bear the thought of being separated.” “There will be a way,” Ian smiled. “There has to be. We'll find a nice place and settle down, maybe buy a house and get a dog. We'll find a way.” Ian decided to take a break from summer classes and work full time during the summer. I worked at the lab and between us, we got by. Rather than thinking about what was mine and what was his, we were thinking in terms of what was ours. We had become a team, or more accurately, a couple. Ian was very bright and resourceful. But as independent and self-sufficient as Ian was, there were some things that were difficult for him. I made some of those things easier. He felt safe with me and knew he could count on me which was important to Ian. He told himself that to survive he had to become a person who didn't need anybody, but of course, he did need someone. He needed me. Even before I realized I was gay, I knew I was different from my friends. I consciously emulated the mannerisms of guys I admired and worked hard to be more masculine. I wanted to be a strong confident person who fit in with the guys I admired. This is who Ian saw. What he didn't see was how desperately I wanted someone to accept me, respect me and depend on me. I needed to be needed. I think that equality in marriage is largely a myth. What makes a partnership work is for the two parties to compliment each other. What one needs, the other provides. Ian and I complimented each other. I took a few post-graduate courses while Ian caught up to me so that we could graduate together. My mother came for the ceremony and so did his. We brought them to our little apartment afterwards and ordered pizza. We were asked for no explanation of our relationship and none was offered, although our mothers went for a long walk together and I think most questions were answered. Ian's mother told him she was very proud of him and we left it at that. It was a good thing. We were aware that there were places where it was acceptable for two men to live together as domestic partners, but Oklahoma in the 1960s was not one of those places. We weren't ashamed of who we were but wanted to avoid controversy. This was a time of transition. College, our jobs, and the apartment were all temporary. The only thing that looked out into the future was the commitment we had made to each other. It appeared that our future plans would require a relocation. After graduation, we spent a month doing job research and interviewed with a number of companies before settling on Boeing in Seattle. I was offered a job in the Engineering department at the Everett plant and Ian was accepted as a telephone sales agent. We applied and were accepted individually. If it mattered to Boeing that we'd be sharing the same address, nothing was said about it. We loved Seattle. The city was vibrant, the area was beautiful, and the Pacific Ocean and Vancouver were not far away. For two people who had never been out of Oklahoma, this was an exotic and exciting place to live. The cost of housing was very high but our starting salaries were adequate and we found a little efficiency apartment in Everett. We drove out in my old Chevrolet and moved in with high hopes. Life was good for us in there. Boeing was growing and we grew with them. After a few years, we found ourselves financially more comfortable and were very happy together. We looked at our combined resources and decided to find a better apartment or maybe a condo. What we really wanted was a little house with a yard, but didn't have much hope of finding something we could afford. We looked at dozens of places and talked to a lot of Real Estate agents before we got a call one Saturday from a fellow who seemed to have taken an interest in us. “Hi, this is John Berman,” he said. “You may remember that we talked about getting a house that would work for you?” I put the phone on speaker so Ian and I could both listening. “Yes, I remember you,” I said. Have you found something for us?” “I think I have. It's small, but in excellent condition and close to the transit system. I think you'll like it.” I hesitated. “But can we afford it? Everything we've looked at is way out of our reach.” “I think you'll be surprised,” he sounded excited. “I think you need to see it quickly. It won't last very long.” I looked over at Ian who was nodding head in his agreement. “We can meet you there if you give me the address.” I wrote it down and we went to the car. “If we can afford it, it must be a dump,” Ian grumbled. “You never know. We've looked at lots of places, we can look at one more.” “It'd be nice to have a dog,” Ian said. “It would be so great to have a little yard where we could have a dog..” “That would be cool,” I agreed. “We had a dog when I was little, but she went to dog heaven about the time we moved and we never got another one.” I checked the address again and we stopped in front of a little bungalow. “This must be it. There's Mr. Berman.” “What does it look like?” “It's not bad,” I grinned. “Actually, it's cute. It's a little frame house with a gabled roof and a bay window in front. It's got gray siding with a red front door and white trim. There's an attached one car garage and lots of shrubbery. There's a decent tree in the front yard and it looks like maybe it's got a new roof.” “I'm afraid to get my hopes up,” Ian sighed, then added hopefully, “Maybe it has a back yard.” Mr. Berman approached us with a smile and shook hands with us both. “Please call me John,” he said. “I think you're going to like this one. Let me show it to you.” He fished a key from his pocket, opened the front door and ushered us inside. Ian took my arm and followed me through the front door into a small living room that was furnished with a sofa and upholstered chairs although the walls were bare. John started his pitch. “It's a two bedroom Donovan house. These were built back in the 1920's and they rarely come on the market. This one has been nicely renovated with hardwood floors and a remodeled bathroom and kitchen. The roof is about 5 years old and everything works.” I led Ian into the kitchen where he let go of my arm and began a tactile inspection of the stove and refrigerator, and the location of the sink and cabinets. “It smells new. How long ago since it was remodeled?” he asked. “About five years ago at the same time the roof was replaced. I guess there's a story here. It was remodeled by an older couple when they retired. His wife died about two months ago and he didn't want to stay. I was able to pick it up for a good price.” “Let's see the rest of it,” I said. It didn't take long. There were two modest bedrooms with a nice bath between them. I noticed that one contained a bed and chest of drawers with a cushioned side chair. I mentioned that to Ian. “Now these bedrooms are kind of small, but you can each have your own room,” John said. I laughed and he looked down at the floor. “Or a master and a guest room, if you like.” The back door opened to a deck with railings and I could see more shrubbery beyond that. I described it to Ian as we walked through. “It's nice. Everything is painted white so anything will fit in here. There is some decent furniture in the living room and one bedroom. What's up with that?” John smiled. “It's yours if you want it. The previous owner moved into an assisted living center and this is what he left behind. Of course if you have something else, I can get it out of here.” I could see that Ian was getting interested. “Could we see the back yard? Is it fenced?” he asked. “Yes, of course. There are some steps that go out to the yard from the deck. Just follow me,” John said. He led me out the back door and Ian followed. “Hey, this is nice, Ian. It's fenced with some of that wooden privacy fence and there are all kinds of plants and flowers around the sides. You could keep a dog out here.” That made Ian smile. We looked around a little more then went into the living room to talk. “The question is,” I said solemnly, “How much is this place. It's nice, but we have a limited budget.” “Well now, let's talk about that. Have you gentlemen figured out what you can afford?” “We've looked at a lot of houses and we can't afford any of them. We sat down and figured out how much we can afford, but we're afraid to get our hopes up,” I told him honestly. Mr. Berman smiled at us both. “Do you like the house?” I looked at Ian and he smiled and nodded. “It's very nice,” he said quietly. “Actually, it would be perfect for us. We don't need a big place and this is close to the transportation system and everything. We could save on gas and wear and tear on my old car. Give us the bad news,” I sighed. “How much is it?” Mr. Berman wrote a number on the back of one of his business cards and handed it to me. “I think I could get more for this place but you guys look like you could use a break. Would that work for you?” I looked at the card and took a breath. I read the number to Ian and asked him, “What do you think?” Ian hesitated a minute then said, “That would buy a mansion in Oklahoma, but it's a lot less than anything else we've looked at. I think we should talk about it.” “I'll be honest with you,” John said. “A place like this doesn't come around very often in this area. I know it sounds like a lot to you, but if you don't want it, I imagine it'll be gone tomorrow. I know that sounds like a hustle, but it's really not.” Ian reached over and took my hand. “Could you give us a few minutes?” he asked. John went out to his car and smoked a cigarette while we talked. “I think we might be able to afford this place,” I told Ian. “What do you think?” “I like it. It's the first thing we've seen that we can afford and it sounds perfect. This is kind of quick, but I vote yes.” “That makes two yes votes. I have a good feeling about this place. Let's do it.” We called John inside and told him that we wanted the house. He pulled out some paperwork for us to sign and recommended a couple of lending agencies. “I'll need some earnest money from you today then I can hold this for a little while,” he said. “As soon as you get your loan approved we can talk about when you want to move in. I'm glad we could do business. I think you'll be happy here.” We shook hands with John and drove back to our apartment. Over the next several weeks we applied for and were approved for a loan. The closing took place quickly and we were able to take possession a month to the day from when we first looked at the house – our new house. We took a few days off from work and packed everything into my old Chevy. The house payment was only a little more than we were paying for our dinky apartment. The furniture that was left behind in thr house was adequate but we needed a kitchen table and some other furniture. We had enough in our joint checking account so we found a discount furniture store and bought what we needed. The store moved it in for us the next day and we got everything arranged, then sat down on the sofa. “We're here,” I said with a laugh. “We're home owners!” “John said he thought we'd be happy here. I bet he's right,” Ian smiled. “Now maybe we can talk about getting a dog.” I laughed out loud. “I guess that's next. What do you have in mind?” “It's not just me. We have to agree on it. Do you want a dog?” “I had a nice dog when I was younger. I used to tell her everything. She wasn't much of a talker, but she was a great listener. Sure, I'd like to get a dog.” “I don't want to buy something expensive. How about a rescue dog. One that needs a good home?” “I think that's a great idea. Where do we go to find one?” “Probably there's something in the newspaper. We could get a paper and you could look through it.” “What kind of a dog do you want?” “What kind of a dog did you have?” “She was a black lab. Her name was Pepper, Black Pepper. You want a big dog?” “Yeah. I might step on a little one. They can be yappy, too.” “How do you know so much about dogs?” “There were dogs at the blind school. It was my job to feed them.” Ian looked a little wistful. “Dogs are great,” I agreed. “They'll love you when nobody else will.” “Yeah. Dogs are great.” “I'll get us a paper. I'm too tired to cook. You want to go out? We can pick up some groceries on the way back.” Ian stood up and smiled. “Sure. I'm hungry.” I bought a newspaper at the grocery market, and looked at it while Ian put things where he could find them. “There's the SPCA,” I said, “and the local animal shelter. There are some photos in the classified section but those are all pedigreed dogs and expensive.” “How about the shelter?” “It's open at eight in the morning. You want to check there?” “Yes. Let's do that. I mean, if you're not ready yet, it's OK.” “First thing in the morning then?” “Yeah. That would be great. Thanks.” We drove out to the animal shelter first thing in the morning. It was a low brick building with chain link dog runs behind it. We walked into the office area to find an older lady at the desk. I pulled on Ian's arm, “Watch out for the puppies. They're wandering around on the floor.” “Sorry about the puppies,” the lady said. “Somebody just dropped them off. Can I help you?” “We wanted to look at some dogs,” Ian said. “Well, we've got plenty of them. Go through that door. Big dogs on the left and little ones on the right. Cats are in the back if you're interested.” We thanked her and went through the door to be greeted by a cacophony of barks and yelps. We turned to the left. Ian held my arm as we walked slowly down a row of wire cages. In each cage was a dog. Some barked with excitement, some growled, a few sat impassively and looked at us as we went by. “What are they?” Ian asked with a note of excitement. “Do you see one you like?” “Give me a minute. There are a lot of dogs in here.” I stopped in front of a cage where a young black dog sat looking at me. When I stopped she stood up and wagged her tail. “What is it? You found one, didn't you.” “Well, she isn't acting crazy and she's not growling at us.” I stuck my fingers through the wire and she looked up at me and licked them. “This one might be a possibility, but we should probably look at the rest of them.” I started to walk on when the black dog whined at me and scratched at the cage with her paw. Ian stopped. “Is this the one you were looking at? What is it?” He held out his hand and the dog licked it through the wire. “Tell me about this dog,” Ian insisted. “It's a female black lab – probably a mix, not a purebred, her hair is too short. I'd guess about six months or so. Not a puppy, but not full grown either.” Ian squatted down next to the cage and spoke softly to the dog. “Are you the one?” He put his face up close to the cage. “What's your name, girl” Do you want to come home with us?” She sniffed him through the cage and wagged her tail vigorously. “She likes me,” Ian said. “She says her name is Pepper.” “Oh, come on!” I laughed. “Did you pick her or did she pick you?” “We could look at her. Do you like her?” “She looks nice. Let's go tell the lady and she'll get her out for us.” I looked at the number on the cage and told the lady at the desk that we might be interested. She called to a girl who told us to take a seat and brought the dog out to us for our inspection. The dog came trotting in on a nylon leash from inside the kennel, walked up to Ian and sat down to lick his hand. Ian was a goner. “I think this is the one. Do you like her?” “I like her just fine. She certainly seems to like you. Have we made up our minds?” Ian bent over and hugged the dog, rubbing her ears and stroking her shiny fur. “I really like this girl. How are you, Pepper?” “Where did she come from?” I asked the lady. “I don't know, honey. She was just running the streets and got picked up. We get a lot of strays.” “We'll take her,” I told the girl. I paid the lady the fee and was handed a receipt and a certificate to have her neutered by a local veterinarian. The girl handed me the leash and that was that. Ian held my arm with one hand and took the leash in the other. The dog walked alongside us to the car. She had decided to adopt us and was behaving herself. We stopped at the market on the way home to buy a bag of dog chow and some bowls for food and water. Ian sat in the car with Pepper while I went into buy provisions for the new member of our family. When I got back to the car, Ian was sitting next to the door and his new buddy was leaned up against him. They looked very cozy. As soon as we got to the house, Pepper was led through to the back yard to take care of her business. She squatted, peed, then ran to the back door to be let back in. Ian put a cup of dry chow in one bowl and water in the other. She knew what to do with that. “I'll feed her,” Ian volunteered. “I'll give her a cup of dog food every morning and another at night. Maybe a little more while she's still growing. I can do this.” “She's all yours,” I laughed. “No. She's ours, but I don't mind feeding her.” “That's fine, but I'm telling you right now that she's not sleeping in our bed.” “No, of course not. But it would be nice if she could sleep in the house. She might be afraid out in the back yard all by herself.” “Who cleans up after her if she poops on the floor?” “I will, but you won't do that, will you Pepper? If you need to go out, you tell me, OK?” I shook my head and laughed. It was nice to see Ian so excited about something. It was nice to see him so happy. Pepper was a fast learner. She knew where Ian was and she knew where the back door was. When she needed to go out she went to the door and barked. Ian let her out and waited until she came back then let her inside. She was here to stay. She was a sweet girl and I became almost as attached to her as Ian was. She liked me and I liked her, but she was really Ian's dog. We bought her a doggie bed and Ian placed it in our bedroom. She was very content there. We'd become a little family. Ian was concerned about leaving her alone when we went to work. We bought her some squeaky toys and things to chew on and put them on the deck behind the house. She did fine except for digging up some of the shrubbery. As soon as we came home she was back in the house looking for a treat. We took her to the Vet and who made sure she had all her shots and spayed her. Ian was concerned that she was dopey when we picked her up but after a few days she seemed to be her usual self. When she got a little older, Ian wanted to take her to obedience school. “We need to take her for walks and it will be nicer if she knows how to heel and stay and things like that. I think we could do it together.” “You thinking about making her a seeing eye dog?” I asked. “I was just thinking about making it easier for us to walk her and things. It takes a lot of training for a guide dog.” “That's fine. My old dog was fairly well behaved but we never took her to school. It might be fun.” “Is there something about dog schools in the paper?” Ian was ready. I located the Companion Dog School and contacted them There was a 6-week class starting in about a month. We were told that we'd need a certificate verifying that she had been neutered and up to date on vaccinations. We were prepared. The school was held in the large central room of an old armory. There were about a dozen people with an assortment of dogs in attendance. We were told that the school would not train our dogs, they would teach us how to train them. We all had to have proper leashes and were told to bring our dogs to the center of the room and form up in a circle. Ian took the leash in his left hand and my arm in his right and we both took Pepper out on the floor. The immediate distraction was that the dogs all wanted to sniff at each other and there were a few growls and barks. Pepper looked excited but stayed at Ian's side. We were given some initial instruction and then told to walk our dogs around the circle. Pepper wanted to walk ahead of us but Ian tugged back on the leash and said “heel!” each time. By the third revolution Pepper was walking at Ian's side. I looked at the instructor at the center of the circle who smiled and gave us a thumbs-up. “You're doing good, Pepper. Good girl,” Ian said encouragingly. We attempted a “sit” near the end of the class and then were dismissed with instructions to rehearse the drill at home as often as we were able. As the weeks went by we learned to “sit”, “stay”, “come” and lie “down”. All the basics. The final test was to have the dogs lie down and stay there as we backed away at least 20 feet. Pepper whined and wanted to come to us but after Ian told her “stay” in a firm voice, she complied. She did great. Every evening and sometimes in the morning before work we practiced our new skills. Weekends we had several sessions each day. Just to be sure she would walk with either of us, I took her alone sometimes. After several weeks of this, Ian had a suggestion. “I'm not sure you need to walk with us. I think I could use my cane in my right hand and walk her with my left. I'm familiar with the neighborhood now and I'd like to try that.” Soon Ian and Pepper were walking alone up the street, around the block and doing fine. When Ian stopped, he said “sit” and Pepper sat by his side. When he said “heel” and started walking she walked beside him. By the last week, he didn't need the voice commands. Pepper knew the drill. It was a game for her and time spent with her beloved Ian. I sat on the front steps and watched as they made their rounds. I noticed a few of our neighbors smiling as they went by. Ian was right. This was a great idea. When Pepper graduated, we got a little certificate with a note saying how much they enjoyed having us. On the way back, Pepper jumped into the rear seat and we drove through a fast food place and got three hamburgers. When we got home, Ian fed one to Pepper. He made her “sit” and “stay” until he laid it on a plate in front of her and said “OK”. She trembled a little in anticipation but minded her manners. She was a good dog. That night after we went to bed and Pepper was comfortable on the floor, I told Ian, “I never thought a female would come between us. I think you like her better than me.” “Oh, no. I like you best. You're my favorite person, but Pepper is my favorite dog. I love you both. Then he snuggled close and ran his hand down to my crotch. “Besides, you have some things that Pepper doesn't.” The End ==========////=========== Author's Note: This concludes “Love is Blind”. The response to this story has been exceptional due in no small part to my editors W_L and Mikiesboy, and beta readers Columbusguy and Geron Kees. When I was in college in the early 1960s I ate at the same boarding house with a blind friend who was the inspiration for Ian. I learned a few things about how he managed to function in a sighted world, but not nearly enough to address the subject with credibility and sensitivity. I reached out for help and four kind gentlemen responded, two of whom are blind. Their support and assistance has been invaluable and I wish to express my sincere gratitude. You made this story much better than if I had tried to write it on my own. Thanks, guys. I appreciate you. Sincerely, Nick If you enjoyed this story please leave a comment or better yet, write a review. If you would like to be notified when I post something new, send me an email and I'll add you to my mailing list. Thank you, Nick Brady at y2kslacker@mail.com Pepper
  4. Andrew's story is my own. I never knew my father and was raised by a single mother. It's not ideal but it is what it is.
  5. That was an error on my part which I have since edited out. Sorry.
  6. Love is Blind - 8 Copyright Nick Brady 2019. All rights reserved. ==========////=========== My mother smiled and excused herself to start our Christmas dinner. I reached over and took Ian's hand. “I love you,” I said quietly. “I love you too. This is the nicest Christmas I ever had.” “The first of many, Ian. The first of many.” The smell of roasting turkey filled the air and our mouths were watering. It had been a long time since breakfast and we were very hungry. We wandered into the kitchen hoping for a sample. “Is there anything we could do to help?” I asked my mother. “Now, Andrew. You'll just have to be patient. It will be ready in about an hour,” she replied as she basted the turkey. We reluctantly went back out and sat on the sofa. Ian ran his finger over his ring. “Tell me about the ring. I know it's a metal band with flat stones in it, but what does it look like?” “It's Sterling silver and the little stones are blue-green turquoise. They weren't that expensive but they're very pretty.” “It fits right. You made a good guess on the size. I really love it.” I took Ian's hand and looked at the ring then held my hand next to his. “They match, you know. They are another thing about us that's just the same.” Ian squeezed my hand. “You make me so happy. I don't deserve to be this happy.” “Don't say that. If anyone ever deserved to be happy it's you. We make each other happy. That's the way it's supposed to work.” “I appreciate your mother making me feel so welcome. I was afraid I'd be a bother.” “Not at all. She likes you,” I assured him. “I bet your mom misses you this Christmas. What did you tell her about spending it with me?” “I sent her a nice Christmas card and wrote a little note inside. I said I was visiting a friend and wished her a nice Christmas. I asked her to wish my father and brothers a merry Christmas from me too, but I don't know if she'll do that. I guess she will. It doesn't matter.” “I think it matters to you. Don't you have some feelings towards them?” “Mixed feelings, I guess. When I was a little kid I really wanted them to like me. When I came home from school I probably bugged them a lot. Before they got into their teens they were pretty nice to me but when they got to be teenagers they decided I wasn't cool, especially if they had their friends over at the house.” “Were they mean to you? Did they pick on you?” “No, basically they just ignored me or told me to get lost. It's hard to be shunned, especially by your own brothers. They mostly laughed at me if they paid any attention at all.” “How did you turn out to be such a nice person? That could have made you bitter and hateful.” Ian shrugged. “I wasn't home that much. From the time I was six years old, I was in the Blind School most of the time. They even had summer programs.” “I know you learned a lot there, but was it a good experience? How do you look back on those times?” "I guess you could say it seemed normal. I was only home during the school holidays and my friends were all at school. The school was pretty strict, but they took care of me and encouraged me. I was always ready to go back to school." “Being a kid is tough for most of us.” “What was it like for you growing up? Your mom is so great. I guess you had a happy childhood.” “It really wasn't that great.” “What do you mean?” “To tell the truth, I was pretty squirrely. Without a father I had no male role model. I looked to my mother for how to do things. She tried to go out in the yard and throw a ball with me, but it wasn't the same. I wanted to follow her around and do what she did. I guess that's how I learned to cook. I was kind of a sissy, Ian. And it didn't help that I found myself more attracted to my buddies than to the girls at school.” “Did you get picked on?” “I got teased a lot. The neighborhood had a lot of kids. The boys would get together in somebody's back yard or at the school playground and play pickup football or baseball. Two guys would be the captains and take turns choosing us to be on their side, I always got chosen last. I wasn't very popular. We moved to a different neighborhood just before I went into high school so it was like starting over.” “I know what it's like not to fit in.” " About the time we moved, I started to grow. I was as tall as I am now when I was in the eighth grade. If you're big but won't fight, you're a magnet for bullies. It makes them look tough to push around a bigger kid. A couple of times I really lost my temper and got mad enough to fight. After knocking a couple of guys on their butts, I wasn't as much fun to pick on and the bullies started leaving me alone. When I got into high school some of my friends were athletes and played sports. I wanted to fit in so I went out for football. I wasn't great at it but it helped make me more like one of the guys. I had to work at being more masculine. It didn't come naturally." “You said you were a swimmer.” "I always like to swim. Mom was a good swimmer and she taught me how when I was little. I joined the swim team and did pretty well. It was a chance to start over. It helped." “What about being attracted to guys? How did that work out?” “I learned to keep that to myself. I never hit on anybody, but there are always a few guys who let you know that they might like to play, you know? We would never admit we liked to do stuff with other boys, but it was OK to play around a little when you were horny. Turned out that some guys liked to do a lot more than others. We all thought of ourselves as straight, or claimed to be. You're the first person I've ever come out to, Ian.” “Really? Me too. I guess that's our little secret.” “I guess so,” I laughed quietly. “I think Mom knew. Mothers always know these things I guess. She watched me struggle with all this stuff. I think that's why she's so accepting of you. She understands us both, Ian.” Ian looked like he wanted to say more, but just then Mom called us to the dinner table. The turkey ended our discussion. It was a wonderful dinner. Mom was a great cook and we ate until we were about to burst. Just when we knew we couldn't eat another bite, she brought out a pecan pie and we ate some more. We sat at the table for quite a while and talked. Not that we had that much to say but because we were basically paralyzed. After some coffee and deep breathing, Ian and I got up and cleared the dishes away and shooed Mom into the living room while we washed up. When we finally joined her she was leaned back in the easy chair sound asleep. Ian and I put on our coats and slipped quietly out of the house to walk off our dinner. Ian carried his folded cane but took my elbow as I gave him a tour of the neighborhood. We walked past my old high school and I shared some stories. That reminded him of a few stories of his own and we had a nice talk The more we got to know about each other, the closer we became. An hour later we came back to the house and found my mother reading a magazine. “I was about to send out a search party,” she said. “Have you been showing Ian around?” “We were walking off your turkey,” Ian laughed. “Thank you for doing the dishes. It was a pleasure having you with us.” We talked a bit more then Mom got up to excuse herself. “I have to go back to work tomorrow. You boys will have to entertain yourselves.” We took the hint and got ready for bed ourselves. I sat on the edge of the double bed in the guest room. “Mom's going back to work and this might be a good time for us to get back to our apartment,” I suggested. “That's a good idea. We don't want to wear out our welcome,” Ian agreed. “You know what they say about fish and company.” “What do they say?” “Both begin to stink after three days.” “Oh. You're probably right,” Ian laughed. “Let's get up and fix Mom a nice breakfast then we can leave after she does. We'd have the house to ourselves for a little while.” I ran the back of my hand down the front of Ian's T-shirt. “This is a pretty nice bed,” Ian agreed. “We haven't had any quality time since we drove down here.” “Would that be safe?” “I imagine so. She won't get back from work until late in the afternoon and we'll be long gone by then.” Ian took my hand and pulled it down to his crotch. It was obvious that he thought I had a good idea. We kissed goodnight and I went to the bottom bunk in my old bedroom. When my mother woke up in the morning the house smelled like bacon. By the time she had dressed for work, there was a platter of bacon, scrambled eggs and another of pancakes waiting on the kitchen table. “I'm going to miss you guys. This is a treat.” “It's the least we can do,” I said. “I won't be able to use up all these leftovers. Let me send some of this stuff home with you.” We went away with a load of turkey, dressing and green bean casserole. We would put it to good use. We walked my mother out to her car and both gave her a big hug. “Thanks again, Mom. It's always great to come home and spend a little time with you,” I said. “I'm sorry I don't get back more often.” “You're busy. I'm busy. We both have our own lives now, Andrew. I'm proud of you and always love to have you, but I understand. Come when you can, and bring Ian with you. You're both welcome anytime.” She hugged us again then got in her car and drove away, leaving us to our own devices. “Probably we should straighten up the house a little, like clean up the kitchen and make the beds,” I suggested. “Let's make up the beds first,” Ian smiled. We went into the guest room and sat on the double bed. We didn't need to discuss what was to happen next. I turned to Ian and unbuttoned his shirt, then lowered his zipper and he did the rest. I lay back on the bed and let him remove my clothing until we were wearing nothing but smiles. Ian sat down next to me as I lay stretched out. “Let me look at you,” he whispered. His sensitive hands examined every inch of me from the hair on my head down to my toes. It was always a tremendous turn-on for both of us when he did that. When I was painfully erect, he bent over and took me in his mouth, his fingers lightly touching the surrounding area. I lay perfectly still, took his head in my hands and rubbed my fingers through his hair. My eyes were closed as I experienced him at the same time that he experienced me. After a few minutes Ian stretched out beside me and it was my turn, breathing in his scent and enjoying the feel of him in my mouth. We were in no hurry. I raised his knees and licked down between his legs causing his breath to quicken. This had become a regular part of our play and we both enjoyed it. We were not sure which role we enjoyed the most, the giver or the receiver but had learned to love both roles. “Wait,” Ian whispered. “First, would you mind hugging me? I always like it when you hug me.” He stretched out his arms and legs like a cat and I placed myself against the length of him, wrapping my arms under his shoulders and kissing him on the neck, under his chin, then gently nibbling his lips. He embraced me and sighed as we rocked against each other from side to side like we had done that first time in my little tent. But before we made a mess, we had other games to play and took turns pleasing each other in all the ways we had discovered. It was some time before we eventually found the relief we longed for. We didn't keep track of the time. We lay in each other's arms for a while then rose from the bed to shower and put on fresh clothing. We scrubbed the bath, changed the sheets on the beds then went into the kitchen to clean up from breakfast. I stood behind Ian and kissed him on the back of his neck. “I love you,” I told him. He turned and took me in his arms. “I love you too. Do you ever get tired of hearing me say that?” “Not yet. I don't think I ever will.” We tidied up the house as best we could then locked up and took our things out to my car. On the drive back to our apartment we made a few plans. Now that we had determined that our lives would be spent together we had a lot of things to talk about. When classes started again the rest of the semester went by quickly. We decided was that we needed to push the two twin beds together to make more room for our playtime. No one ever came to visit unless it was the landlord making an inspection, We decided that if he hadn't balked at our homebrew, the location of the beds probably wouldn't concern him either. “My mother hardly writes to me any more and she stopped sending any money,” Ian told me one day. “I think when I didn't come back for Christmas they decided to write me off.” “Why would they care?” “Giving me a hard time was their decision. Not coming home for Christmas was my idea. I guess I didn't play by the rules, I don't know.” “I feel bad for your Mom.” "I do too. I still write to her, but I know she's in a tough position. Maybe my father found out she was sending me some money and put his foot down. For all I know, she's not even getting my letters. Maybe it would make things simpler I didn't write to her." “It's hard for me to understand the situation with your family.” Ian sighed. “I've thought about it a lot. I think when I was little, I was sort of a curiosity. I couldn't do what my brothers did when they were my age and that was disappointing. People felt sorry for me and assumed I was retarded. They felt sorry for my family being burdened with such a freaky kid. Then when I was six they sent me off to the blind school and I was out of the way.” “So you never really lived with your family?” “I lived at the school. When I came home I was just a visitor. They never really knew me. When I was home they didn't know what to do with me.” “It's like you weren't really part of the family.” “Not really. I think they saw me as an accident, as something that never should have happened.” “I just can't understand why your father is so harsh.” “My father isn't really a bad person, he's just ignorant, Andrew. He doesn't have any education, he doesn't read. He doesn't understand things and if something happens that he doesn't understand, it makes him angry. He can't understand why he had such a freaky kid.” “You weren't a freak. You just couldn't see.” “But I didn't look like my father, didn't act like him. My brothers grew up a lot like their father. They tried to be like he was. They were good at sports and talked the talk, you know? I think my father suspected that I wasn't really his.” “He thought your mother had been with another man?” “I overheard things. I don't know what he thought. Maybe he thinks I'm not really his kid and is suspicious of my mother. Maybe that's why he's so angry. He hates anything he doesn't understand.” Do your brothers feel the same way?” “I never fit in, but my brothers were decent to me when I was little. It's when I got older that it got worse. I think they picked up on the idea that I wasn't legitimate. I was gone most of the time. I imagine the subject came up. Then when I came home they looked at me differently.” “Didn't your mother defend herself? Couldn't they talk about it?” “That's not the way it works. If something is tough, you just don't talk about it. One way or another, I was an anomaly. I wasn't supposed to be there.”” “I'm sorry, Ian.” “Don't be sorry. My life is so much better now. I can wish things were different, but I'm happy with my life. I'm happy with you.” “I think life is better for both of us now. We need to start thinking about our future.” “I'm not sure I've really thought about my future,” Ian admitted. “I guess I just figure if I can stay in school things will work out somehow. I expected to be alone.” “You're not alone now. We're not alone, we're a team, a couple. We need to make plans. How are we going to stay together after college?” I asked. “That might be a challenge. We aren't going to be doing the same kind of work. I'm not sure what I'll be able to do, to be honest. I hate to admit it, but being blind does close some doors.” “We don't have to do the same job to work for the same company,” I pointed out. “We need to think about how we're going to do this. I can't bear the thought of being separated.” “There will be a way,” Ian smiled. “There has to be. We'll find a nice place and settle down, maybe buy a house and get a dog. We'll find a way.” ==========////=========== Please send your comments to Nick Brady at y2kslacker@mail.com
  7. Well, that's what Andrew told his Mom.
  8. Nick Brady

    Chapter 1

    The truth is that while the setting is very accurate (I have lived in Tulsa for a long time), the story is 99% fiction. My life was never as interesting as this story. This was the first long story I wrote and used my pen name as the name of the lead character. In retrospect, I wish I had not as it has created some confusion. It is not autobiographical, although all writers use bits and pieces of their real experiences in the stories we write. Enjoy the story, but it's not really mine. I made it up. 😉
  9. Love is Blind - 7 Copyright Nick Brady 2019. All rights reserved. ==========////=========== I sat and thought for a minute. “One time I was struggling with something and my mother told me that when we have to make a tough decision, all we can do is to look at what options we have and try to pick the right one. We have to do the next right thing. What's the right thing for you, Ian?” Ian leaned his head back. “What are my options and what should I do? That's a good question.” I pulled Ian into a hug. “Maybe we should sleep on it.” We enrolled for the fall semester. Now I was a Junior and Ian was a Sophomore, actually a little more than that since he had taken summer classes. At this rate, he would catch up with me before I graduated. He followed through on the idea of changing his major and was now in the school of Business Administration. He didn't lose any hours and was feeling better now that he had made his decision. Stuart assured him that his chances of finding a good job would be better in Marketing. We kept the apartment but did not sign up for Mrs. Mac's boarding house, intending to save some money by fixing our own meals. We ate breakfast together then parted for the day. I sometimes packed a lunch for each of us and tried to make something decent for our supper. Ian took over the coffee pot duties and was learning to scramble eggs and make toast. I did the serious cooking and he did the serious housekeeping. We were partners in almost everything. Ian wrote to his mother almost every week although she did not always respond, but sent at least one letter a month with a little money. From her letters, I gathered that things at home had not changed. Ian accepted the situation stoically and said little about it. My mother and I exchanged letters too, although I was not great about writing. I laughed at something she wrote and Ian asked me what was so funny. “Oh, nothing Just something my mother wrote,” I replied. “You're close to your mother, aren't you?” “She's all I've got, and I guess I'm all she's got. We are pretty close.” “You've never said anything about your father,” Ian observed. “I never really knew my father. It's a long story.” “I'm listening.” I leaned back and stretched my legs out. "I guess the short version of the story is that my mother and father were sweethearts in high school and she got pregnant with me when she was 17. They got married but I guess it didn't work out. After high school, they parted company when I was about 3. I don't actually remember him." “I'm sorry. I didn't mean to pry.” “That's OK. We agreed to be honest with each other. It's not something I talk about because there's not much to tell.” “She was pretty young. Didn't she want to get married again?” “She dated some. I remember some of the men she dated, but I guess nothing stuck. Maybe not all guys want to take on a little kid. She works as a senior manager in a manufacturing company. I think she's sort of married to her job.” “That means you grew up without a father. Was that hard?” “It would have been nice to have a dad, but it's not the worst thing in the world. I had friends with nice fathers, and I sort of borrowed theirs. It was OK. Certainly, it was better than your situation." “Is your mother happy?” “I think so. At least she never complains. She has a lot of lady friends. I guess she's happy enough.” “She sounds like a nice person.” “She is. You need to meet her sometime.” “I'd like to.” “What about you? Do you think you'll ever be reconciled with your father and brothers?” Ian sighed. "I've never really fit in. Maybe when I'm older and they can see me as an adult, but to them, I'm still the clumsy little blind kid in a family of jocks." “But you're in college and doing great. They should be proud of you,” I told him. “Why can't your father and brothers see that? At least your mother is proud of you.” “My mother does what my father tells her to. I doubt he knows she's sending me money. If he finds out he'll probably tell her to stop and that will be the end of it.” “Surely he'll let her help while you're in college. Your future depends on your education.” Ian shook his head. "You don't understand, Andrew. My father only made it through high school because he was a good football player and now he's doing menial work. He resents people with an education. He sees them as show-offs. He'd rather see me fail." “That's crazy.” “Not from his point of view. My brothers are the same way. They take pride in the fact that they're getting by with very little education. They think that educated people are eggheads. They aren't bad people, kind of 'good-old-boys', you know? Like I said, I never fit in.” “I guess the good news is that you don't need them anymore. Maybe you never did.” “Not really. I'll have to make it on my own.” “Nobody makes it on their own, Ian. We all need somebody.” Ian paused. “I like to think I don't need anybody, but that's not true. I need you, Andrew. And not just because I'm blind.” I wasn't sure what to say. “I need you too. I really like that we're together. I hope this lasts.” “What will happen to us when we get out of college? I think about that.” “I do too. If you were a girl I'd ask you to marry me.” Ian laughed. “Guys can't get married.” “No, but think about it. You're blind and I'm sort of your assistant. Nobody has questioned that. We could stay together if we could get our jobs to coincide. Kind of like Hellen Keller and that lady who helped her.” “That's almost too much to hope for.” “It won't happen by accident. We need to plan for it. What do you think?” “If you could ask me to marry you, I would accept. What do you think?” I put my arm around Ian and pulled him close. “I think that's a great idea. Let's make that a plan.” I was to run home for Thanksgiving while Ian stayed behind and caught up on some school work. The evening before I left, we made a Thanksgiving dinner of our own. I roasted a small chicken and Ian did the mashed potatoes. He was an ace at mashed potatoes. When we sat down to eat, I asked him, “What are you thankful for?” Ian thought for a moment. “I'm thankful to be in college. I was never sure I would get this far. I'm thankful for my mother and her support. Mostly I'm thankful for you. What are you thankful for?” “My list is the same as yours – college, Mom, you. Especially for you. Our mothers are different though.” “How's that?” “Both of them love us, but my mother chose to get out of a bad marriage. Your mother doesn't seem to have that choice.” “But they both love us,” Ian said. “That's the thing they have in common. That's the important part.” I agreed. We both had some things to be thankful for. I went home on Thursday morning and came back the next day. While I was home I had a long talk with my mother. She asked me about Ian. “You've mentioned a few things about your roommate. I know that he's blind and I gather that you two are close, but I've never met him.” “I'd like you to. He's a neat guy. He's smart and funny. I like him a lot.” “Is he more than just a friend?” she asked. “Yes, to be honest. We're talking about staying together after college.” “In that case, I'd really like to meet him," she smiled. "How would that work?" “What if he came home with me for the Christmas break?” “He would be very welcome, but would that be alright with his family?” “To tell the truth, he isn't close to his family. I think he would like that very much.” “In that case, I'll plan on it. Let me know when you'll be here, and tell me more about Ian.” “Thanks, Mom. You're the best.” We had a long talk. After I got back on Friday, I told Ian, “You're invited home for Christmas.” “Is that alright with your mother? I mean, does she know about us?” “Mom understands me. She's fine with us. I told you she was a neat lady.” “That sounds wonderful. I can't wait to meet her.” “Um, you will probably have to sleep in the guest room. My room has bunk beds and she might not be quite that open-minded.” “Oh, that's fine. I hate to think what would happen if I tried to bring you home with me.” “You'll be very welcome, Ian. I can promise you that.” That night we shared one of the twin beds. It was plenty big enough for what we wanted to do. We didn't mind at all being close. We showered and slipped into bed just as we came out of the bath. Our time together was becoming more relaxed and loving. We had long passed the point of being friends to one of being committed to making life pleasurable for each other. We shared ourselves as intimately as possible, both giving and receiving. Our lives were not perfect, but we were very happy. We devoted ourselves to wrapping up the semester during the weeks before the Christmas break. Ian took off work and we spent our time studying and finishing some papers. The prospects of surviving another term looked encouraging. Just before leaving we packed our bags and got ready to go. “I hope your mother will like me,” Ian fretted. “I can be a lot of trouble.” “Don't be silly. She'll love you and you're no trouble at all.” “I'm sorry, but I'm kind of nervous. I've never had a boyfriend before and certainly never met his mother.” “She invited you, Ian. She knows we are more than just roommates and she's fine with it.” “What did you tell her?” “I told her that you were smart and funny and a hell of a good lay.” “You didn't!” “No, of course not. But I told her that we were thinking of staying together after college. She's not dumb and she knows how I am. It's OK, Ian. Really.” We packed up the car and left for mother's two days before Christmas. Ian was unusually quiet on the drive over. I knew he was stewing about making a good impression. I also knew that he would. We pulled into Mom's driveway at two in the afternoon and I took our bags and bundles out of the trunk and set them down beside the car. Before I could start for the house, the front door opened and Mom called out, “Hello! I'm so glad you came. Let me help you with those.” Ian stood still with his long white cane in his hand until she approached him. Ian held out his hand and she took it in both of hers. “You must be Ian. I have heard so many nice things about you. Please call me Catharine.” Ian smiled and said, “It's very nice to meet you. Andrew told me that you were a neat lady and I can tell that you are. Thank you for making me feel welcome.” “Well, you are very welcome. Now let's get these bags in the house and make ourselves comfortable.” My things went into my old bedroom and Ian's went to the guest room. Mother hustled us into the living room. "Now I know you've been in the car for a while. Andrew can show you the bathroom while I get something for us to munch on. Take your time." When we had relieved ourselves and washed up, Ian took my arm and we sat down together on the sofa. He looked a little uncertain. “There are some snacks on the coffee table in front of you. I'm sure you can manage just fine. Now tell me about school. Ian, I think you are in Marketing?” I placed some chips and dip on a plate, laid it on a napkin and handed it to Ian. "Yes, Ma'am," he said. "I was thinking of majoring in English but changed to Marketing in the School of Business Administration this past semester." “That's a much more practical choice,” she said. “Are you enjoying your classes?” Mom was easy to talk with and I mostly grinned and listened as she made Ian comfortable. Soon he was relaxed and making little jokes. Of course, the story of the horse meat steaks came up and we all laughed like old friends. Good old Mom. We chatted for a long time before Mom excused herself and went into the kitchen to put some supper together, leaving Ian and me alone to talk. “What do you think?” I asked. “Your mother is terrific. She just couldn't be nicer.” “She likes you. I told you she would.” “I need to know where things are. Could we walk around?” I gave Ian the tour and we located the bedrooms, the front and back doors, then found our way into the kitchen where we sat at the breakfast table and talked to Mom while she rattled the pots and pans. Soon the smell of frying chicken filled the air. I jumped up and set the kitchen table for us and we enjoyed a nice supper. “I can see where Andrew learned to cook,” Ian complimented my mother on her chicken. “Yes," Mom laughed. "I taught him everything he knows, but not everything I know. Is he feeding you alright?” “He is, and he's even teaching me how to fix a few things.” “Ian is generally in charge of breakfast. He makes the coffee and scrambles the eggs,” I bragged. “He's coming right along.” After some coffee, we all stood at the sink. I washed, Ian dried then handed things to Mom to be put away. It went well. When it was finally time for bed, Mom left us alone for a few minutes so that I could help Ian get settled. I turned down the bed for him and sat down next to him. “Do you feel welcome?” I asked. “More than welcome. Your Mom is wonderful.” “I told you she was a nice person. She wants me to be happy, Ian. If you are the one to make me happy, she will love you.” “And I will love her. I guess we should say goodnight.” “Yeah. No snuggling tonight, but we'll find a way,” I hugged him and snuck a quick kiss. “Goodnight, Ian.” I went into the living room and sat down with Mpm. "He's a nice person. I like him," she said. "Nice looking too." “I've never met anyone like him, and I'm not talking about him being blind. That's not really a big part of the deal.” “I like the chemistry between you. I approve, not that you need me to.” “That's important, Mom. This could be a long term deal.” “As long as he makes you happy,” Mom smiled. The next day was Christmas Eve. After breakfast Mom announced. “I didn't want to put up a tree until Andrew came home. We need to go to the Christmas tree lot and pick one out. You can help, Ian.” Mom sat in the front seat with me and Ian got in the back. When we got to the tree lot we got out and walked among the possibilities. “Now help me find a fresh one. I don't want pine needles all over the house,” she instructed us. As we walked down the rows of possibilities I would find one that looked nice and Ian would run his hands over the branches. “I think this one is a little dry,” he would say and we would check out another. When we came to one that passed his initial inspection he leaned forward to crush the needles and sniff. “Oh, this one smells fresh.” Mom stepped up and declared. “That's a beautiful tree. Thanks, boys. We'll take it.” We drove home with it tied to the roof of my Chevy. Once home, we lugged it into the house and screwed into the tree stand, added a little water and wrapped the old skirt around the bottom. Mom sat back and let us do the work, then hauled a box of Christmas ornaments out of the hall closet. “Help us with the decorations, Ian. I never know where to put things.” First, we threaded a long string of lights around the branches then festooned them with our vintage collection of ornaments. "Remember this one?" she would say as she first handed one to me, then passed it to Ian. "The Hendersons gave us this one. And this one we bought when you were in grade school." Each ornament had a history and a story to go with it. Ian examined each, then we collectively found a place for it in the branches. It had been our Christmas tradition ever since I could remember. When finally the box was empty, we sat down on the sofa to admire our work. Ian breathed deeply. “It smells like Christmas.” “It's a beautiful tree. Thank you, guys.” Mom excused herself and returned from the kitchen in a few minutes with a tray of cookies and cups of hot chocolate. “Careful now, that cocoa is hot.” This too was part of the tradition that my mother had created for our little family of two. Ian seemed to glow. “I'm going to feed you tonight,” she said. “Tomorrow you boys will have to starve so you'll have a good appetite for Christmas dinner. It will just be the three of us so you'll have to eat a lot.” It had been a very nice day. I walked Ian into his bedroom and we sat and talked for several minutes. “Are you glad you came?” I asked. “Oh, yes. I never dreamed that Christmas could be like this. Ours was never this way.” “What was Christmas like when you were a kid?” “I guess we had our own sort of tradition. Dad and my brothers would drive out to a state park and saw down a little cedar three and bring it home. We had an old string of lights and made a lot of our ornaments. We didn't have much money. I remember threading popcorn on a string to drape around the tree. Mom would help me while the guys drank beer and watched. It wasn't like your tradition but it was kind of nice.” “Ours has always been the same for as long as I remember,' I said. “I always loved Christmas.” “I don't have much for your mother,” Ian said. “I just got her a little present. I didn't know what she'd want.” “That's OK. I got her something and put both our names on it. She'll like it.” Ian hugged me very tightly. “Thank you, Andrew. I'm very glad I came. I can't imagine being alone this Christmas.” “Neither can I. I'm alone when I'm not with you. I love you, Ian.” “I love you too,” he sounded kind of weepy. “Goodnight.” “Goodnight. I'll see you in the morning.” We all slept a little late the next morning. Breakfast was coffee, a platter of muffins and some fresh fruit. We were to be hungry for Christmas dinner. After breakfast, I went out to the car and brought in a large plastic bag. “I think Santa came,” My mother announced and we sat on the sofa as she handed us each a wrapped box. “Your names are on these.” We opened our presents. Inside the boxes were matching tan camelhair sweaters. “Try them on,” Mom instructed. “Santa left the receipts so we can exchange them if they don't fit.” They did fit and looked very nice. “How did Santa know my size?” Ian asked. “I told you that Andrew told me all about you, enough so I could make a good guess at what size you wear. I passed that along to Santa,” she laughed. “We have something for you,” I reached into my bag and handed a package to her. “Inside was a bright red Christmas sweater with little sparkly things around the neck. “ A sweater. Great minds think alike,” she laughed and pulled it over her head then stood to look in the mirror that hung on the wall next to the front door. “Oh, I just love it. Thank you very much – both of you.” Ian sat for a moment then handed a small package to my mother. “I hope you like this.” “Oh, thank you,” mom said and tore off the paper. Inside was a red wool scarf. “We made those in my high school,” Ian explained. “I kept one and hope you can use it.” “It's lovely. It goes with the sweater.” Mom impulsively gave Ian a quick hug. Thank you very much.” Ian grinned shyly then pulled a small box from his pants pocket. “This is for you,” he said and handed it to me. Inside was a nice wristwatch. I put it on and admired it. "The cover flips up," Ian said. I pressed a small button on the side of the face and the glass cover flipped open to allow access to the hands. It was like the one Ian wore but new and nicer. “Wow! This a great, Ian. Thanks.” “If I lose mine I can borrow it,” he smiled. “It's beautiful. I really like it.” I pushed the lever and tapped the face of the watch with my fingers. It was a very personal gift and I felt my eyes grow damp. Reaching in my bag I extracted a pair of small boxes. “I have something for you, for both of us, really.” In the boxes were a pair of matching rings. “They're sort of friendship rings,” I explained. “The band is silver and the little stones are green turquoise.” We put them on and Ian sat silently, running his finger over the stones. He seemed to be unable to speak. Finally, he croaked, “Thanks.” My mother smiled and excused herself to start our Christmas dinner. I reached over and took Ian's hand. “I love you,” I said quietly. “I love you too. This is the nicest Christmas I ever had.” “The first of many, Ian. The first of many.” ==========////=========== Please send your comments to Nick Brady at y2kslacker@mail.com
  10. Your story title caught my eye, so I'm anxious to meet Snuggles and curious about the ring. Nice hook. This is off to a good start. Nick
  11. It was not funny to either Ian or the busboy at the moment. but was when looked back on. If Ian were sighted he might have been able to avoid the collision but such things are part of his condition. Both the home brew and the restaurant incident were drawn from my memory although from very different times and situations. There is an element of truth in all fiction.
  12. Love is Blind - 6 Copyright Nick Brady 2019. All rights reserved. ==========////=========== That was all we heard of it. When the remaining bottles remained intact, we put them in the refrigerator and sampled one several days later. It was potent but pretty tasty. That was our last attempt at home brew. All's well that ends well. The attempt at beer making was a learning experience and one that was not repeated. However, there were 7 bottles still intact. We thought about inviting Stuart over to sample one but were afraid to feed the stuff to anyone else before we tried it ourselves. We picked a Saturday night for the tasting. “Are you ready to try one of these?” I asked Ian. “Sure. I'm game. After all, we went through to make it, we have to at least try one." We sat at the kitchen table and I poured the contents of one of the quarts of home brew into a pair of tall glasses, being careful not to disturb the thin layer of sediment at the bottom. “It looks pretty good, I told Ian. “It's dark and has a nice head on it. What do you think?” “It smells good. Kind of funky, but good. Shall we try it?” “Cheers.” I took a cautious sip. “Not bad. What do you think?” Ian sniffed, sipped, then took a longer drink. “I like it. It has a lot of flavor.” I put a bowl of peanuts on the table and we munched and sipped until our glasses were empty. “Actually, I think this is pretty good stuff. Want to try another?” “Half a quart is just a pint,” Ian calculated. “It wouldn't hurt to have another. This is really good.” I topped up our glasses again and we moved into the living room to recline on the sofa. I had used the recipe my friend had given me but had no experience in brewing. If I had done this right, I would have used a hydrometer to gauge the proper time to bottle and cap the beer which might have prevented the under-sink explosion. I might also have realized that the alcohol content of our brew was considerably higher than the 3.2 percent alcohol by volume that Oklahoma state law allowed at the time. This was potent stuff. But, it tasted good and went down rather smoothly. We liked it. After the second glass, we discussed eating some supper. “Are you hungry?” I asked. “I don't know. This stuff is pretty filling and we've been eating peanuts. What do you think?” I let out a long low belch. “I think I'd like another. You ready?” “Yeah, sure,” Ian said with a crooked smile. “That sounds like a good idea. Got any more peanuts?” After the third beer, we were feeling pretty good. Ian announced that he needed to pee and stood up. “Oh!” he said. “What's wrong?” “I'm a little dizzy. Do you think maybe I got up too fast? I stood to take his arm and experienced the same sensation. “You think maybe it was the beer?” “Could be,” Ian giggled. “I need to go to the bathroom.” “Me too, let's go together.” We weaved our way to the toilet and emptied our bladders side by side, fencing with the yellow streams. I looked over at Ian and said. “You look pretty good.” He shook himself then replied. “You know that I look with my hands.” “Have a look,” I giggled. He did, and I did, then I suggested, “Maybe we ought to lie down until the dizziness passes.” “Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. Let's get naked.” I thought that was a great idea and we proceeded to strip and collapse on the closest bed, smooching and rubbing ourselves together. Ian and I had satisfied each other in various ways. We liked to kiss and rub together until we made a mess between ourselves. I had kissed him down his front until I found what I was looking for and swallowed him whole. He liked that a lot and discovered that it was at least as blessed to give as to receive. We did that fairly often once we broke the ice. I loved Ian and wanted to make him happy. I was satisfied with what we did, but based on my past experience, knew that there was a little more that could be done. We were quite relaxed by our intake of beverage and to my mind, it seemed like a good time to try something new. “Raise your legs,” I suggested and proceeded to push his knees to his chest. “How does this feel?” I asked as I bent down and used my tongue to give him a new experience. “Oh! Do you really want to be doing that?” “I'm doing it. Do you like it?” “Uh, It's kind of nice, actually. I guess I do.” I devoted myself to the task, rewarded by some humming noises from Ian. Then I inserted a finger. “Oh! I don't know about that.” “Hey, it's fun.” I encouraged him and continued. “I don't think I want to do that,” he cautioned me. “Have you done that before?” “I have, and I liked it,” I recklessly admitted. “It would hurt.” “Not after you get used to it. You could do it to me.” “Really? I don't know.” “You never know until you try.” I turned on my side and backed into him. “Go ahead, try it.” Ian wasn't sure about this but he made an unsuccessful attempt to comply. “It won't go in.” “Just a minute,” I said and stumbled to the bathroom, returning with a small jar of Vaseline. “Here we go.” I liberally applied it to us both. By this time, the beer and Ian's curiosity had overcome his reluctance and he tried again, this time successfully. “Oh!” he said again. “That's amazing!” I moved, he moved, and it was good for us both. The new sensation was too much for him and it was all over rather quickly. He turned and lay back, breathless. “How was that?” I asked. Ian was a bit winded. “Didn't that hurt?” “No. I like it. We just haven't tried that before. Did you like it?” Ian's reply was to turn and hug me. He kissed my neck. “I love you,” he whispered. “I love you too. You want to try it now?” Ian hesitated, kissed my neck, then proceeded to kiss southward to satisfy me in another way. It was fine. It was good. I was happy with whatever Ian was comfortable with. Now that the ice had been broken there would be other times to discuss other possibilities. We woke up sometime later and retired to our separate beds to sleep late on Sunday morning. Summer school was over the first of August. I was working at the lab and Ian put in more hours at the Safeway. We were able to save up a little money. Despite the distraction of working, running and playing with me, Ian had made good grades and we decided to celebrate. “How about a nice dinner,” I suggested, “I know you must be getting tired of my cooking.” “You cook alright,” Ian assured me, “but it would be nice for a change.” We decided to go to the Student Union and eat at the restaurant run by the School of Hotel Management. It tried to be a swanky place and the food was supposed to be pretty good. It was almost completely operated by the students with supervision by the faculty. The students purchased the food, prepared and served it to get an idea of all aspect of the business. I made reservations and we dressed up for the occasion. Ian left his cane in the car to walk in on my arm. It was a nice place. The tables were covered in white linen and each place was set with several glasses upside down and an array of cutlery, a knife, two forks, a spoon and another spoon above around an over-sized plate to be used as a charger for what was served. Soft music was playing in the background and the atmosphere was quite elegant. We were greeted at the door by a young man wearing a tux who looked up our names and showed us to a table. I went first to run interference through the tables and chairs and Ian walked closely behind me, lightly touching the back of my jacket. After we were seated, another young man came to ask us what we wanted to drink, left a basket of dinner rolls and left a pair of menus. I leaned over to quietly read the selections to Ian while he pretended to be reading his menu. “This all looks pretty good,” I said. “What sounds good to you?” “Anything besides mashed potatoes,” Ian chuckled. “But I have to order something I can eat without making a mess.” “Order what you want. I can talk you through it.” “I haven't had a decent steak in ages. I can cut it if I use my hands to position things.” “Then order a steak. They may not have horse meat though.” “I'll make a sacrifice,” Ian laughed. “Do they have a rib-eye?” “Yes. 8 or 12 ounce?” “Umm, a 12 ounce. I'd love that. What comes with it?” “Loaded baked potato, house or Cesar salad, choice of steamed broccoli or asparagus.” “Oh, that sounds wonderful.” Then he gently touched the table service. “What do I have here?” I lowered my voice to explain the layout. “The small fork on the left is for the salad, the larger is for the entree. On the right is a table knife and a spoon. If we order steak they will probably bring a steak knife when they serve it. There is a smaller spoon at the top of the plate for dessert. The rolls are in a basket between us. After a few minutes, the waiter brought our drinks and asked to take our order. I nudged Ian under the table. He sat up straight, laid his hands on the menu and said firmly. "I'd like the 12 ounce rib-eye medium rare, a baked potato, steamed asparagus, and the Cesar salad." “Yes, sir,” the waiter said and turned to me. “And for you?” “I'll have the same, thank you.” “Very good. I'll have the salads out quickly.” He gathered up the menus and hustled off to the kitchen. “That went well,” Ian laughed. “We make a good team, don't you think?” Ian smiled. “We make a very good team. This was a great idea. Thanks.” “Don't thank me. We're splitting the tab.” The salad came first. He did OK with that, except that when he stuck a fork in the salad, sometimes he got a small piece of Romaine, sometimes he got a bundle of larger pieces. After wiping his face, he took his knife and attempted to slice it into smaller more manageable pieces then used part of a dinner roll to move it onto his fork. “Could I help you with that?” I offered quietly. “I can do it if you don't mind being seen with me.” “Hey, no problem. Let me know if I can do anything for you.” He managed. The server took our salad plates and before long our steaks arrived. Ian leaned forward and inhaled. “That smells wonderful.” He hesitated then used his fingers to locate everything on his plate. “Oh, what the heck. I'm going to enjoy this.” “Go for it. Just keep one foot on the floor at all times.” He did fine, once he figured out where everything was. He speared his steak with the fork and carefully sliced it into smaller pieces. He cut across the asparagus to render it into bite-sized pieces and fingered the potato. It was wrapped in foil and pushed in at the sides to loosen it. Piled on top was butter, sour cream and crumbled pieces of bacon. "I'm not sure how to do this," he admitted. “What I do is to use my fork to mash it all together and scoop it out a bite at a time.” He touched the pile of ingredients and looked frustrated, “I can do this, but I'll make a mess of it. “You could help, I think.” Without a word, I reached over and rendered it into something he could manage with a fork. “You're good,” I said softly. I enjoyed my steak and so did Ian. The cut was tender and the inside was nice and pink. I imitated Ian and cut my food into bite-sized pieces. It was a nice meal. Ian did his trick with a piece of dinner roll and got through the meal with no problem. “How was your steak,” I asked. “Heavenly. I never had better. Even better than your horse meat.” “Well, I hope so." The waiter removed our empty plates and asked, "Would you care for dessert? We have a chocolate fudge brownie with ice cream and an excellent Crème Brulee." “Why don't you order for us,” Ian suggested. “We'll each have the Crème Brulee," said. After the waiter left, Ian asked. “What am I getting?” “It's like a little cup of egg custard that has had sugar sprinkled on top and caramelized with a blow torch," I explained. “That sounds exciting.” “It's nice and you can easily eat it with the spoon at the top of your plate.” Ian smiled and settled back to wait for dessert. “Are you having fun?” I asked. “Yes. I'm glad we came. It's a lovely dinner.” After dessert, we had coffee in little demitasse cups with cream and brown sugar. It was all very elegant. We were brought the check and I did some quick arithmetic to split it up, left a nice tip and we were ready to go. As we stood up to leave, Ian stepped back from the table just as a busboy in a white jacket rushed behind him carrying a large tray of dishes. They collided with a terrible crash throwing soiled dishes over the heads of the table behind us. Ian said, “I'm sorry,” and the busboy shouted, “oh shit!” at the same time. Our waiter appeared out of nowhere to pick up the crockery and attempt to wipe the remains of a salad from the dress of a rather large lady while apologizing to us and everyone in the area. If it weren't for Ian's embarrassment it would have been funny. The illusion of elegance was somewhat damaged as I hustled Ian away, leaving our cash on the table. “Oh my God. What happened?” Ian gasped as we walked to the car. “You got run over by a busboy.” “I'm so sorry. I hope I didn't embarrass you.” “No, it wasn't your fault. It could have happened to anybody.” I assured him. When we got home, we got comfortable on the sofa. “Did you have a good time?” I asked. “It was really nice until I collided with that poor busboy.” “More so for the busboy. It was like a scene out of a Three Stooges movie. It was funny, really.” “That's easy for you to say. You weren't one of the stooges.” “Not you, the busboy. He was in a big hurry and wasn't looking where he was going. Don't worry about it.” “It was kind of funny now that you mention it,” Ian smiled. “Other than the busboy thing, I had a great time.” “We both did, and the food was super.” “I did do pretty well with the steak," Ian admitted. “You were smooth. I don't think anybody watching would know you couldn't see.” “Yeah, we did OK.” “We did great. There's no way I could eat a steak dinner blindfolded.” “It's one of the things we learned in school. They taught us to locate everything, cut larger things into smaller pieces, then use a piece of bread to maneuver food to the fork.” “You didn't spill anything.” “I was careful and if something does slide off the plate, I'll just leave it there. I don't want to be eating off the table with my fingers. That looks worse than making a mess. We learned a lot of things like that.” I put my hand on Ian's shoulder and gave it a squeeze. “You can do anything.” Ian grew serious. “I wish that were true, but I have to admit, sometimes it's hard, Andrew. I'm lucky to be in college at all. Most blind people never make it to college and most who do, never finish. It's just too overwhelming.” “You'll make it, though.” Ian sighed. “I hope so, but it's going to get harder not easier. I made it though my freshman year with decent enough grades to keep my scholarship, but I have a long way to go.” “What's the matter? You sound kind of discouraged.” “I'm just being realistic. I'm on my own now. I have to figure out what I'll do if I can't make it through college. For that matter, I have to figure out what I'll do if I finish. Having a degree doesn't magically insure success. I'll have to find a job, make a living.” “Neither of us is guaranteed anything. I can't predict what will happen to me. All I can do is to try and got a decent education and hope for the best. That's all either of us can do.” “But you're already working in a lab. I'm sacking groceries.” I sat back and waved my hands. “So what are you going to do, give up?” “No, I won't give up. But I'm not sure I'm on the right track. I decided to major in English because it was something I thought I could do. Now I wonder if I'll be able to make a living.” “If you feel that way, you can always change your major. Everything you've done your freshman year will still count if you switch.” “I've thought about it. I was talking to Stuart. He's a business major and plans to go into marketing.” “Stuart's a smart guy. Does that sound like it might be a good plan for you?” “I don't know. I have to do something. I'm not going to go home and live off my family, for sure. The other alternative is to become a ward of the state. I won't do that. I have to be able to make it on my own. I just have to.” I sat and thought for a minute. “One time I was struggling with something and my mother told me that when we have to make a tough decision, all we can do is to look at what options we have and try to pick the right one. We have to do the next right thing. What's the right thing for you, Ian?” Ian leaned his head back. “What are my options and what should I do? That's a good question.” I pulled Ian into a hug. “Maybe we should sleep on it.” ==========////=========== Send your comments to Nick Brady at y2kslacker@main.com
  13. Thank you , Thorn. As I mentioned above, the home brew incident was one of my memorable experiences from college.
  14. This part of the story is semi-factual. The apartment described in the story is the one I rented while in college. I did feed my roommate horsemeat (he liked it) and we did attempt to brew our own beer with disastrous results. Even the bit about the landlord coming to fix the leak and drinking our bottle of Seagrams really happened. But we did make a second attempt which was more successful. Good stuff, but potent. Nick
  15. Love is Blind - 5 Copyright Nick Brady 2019. All rights reserved. ==========////=========== Ian leaned over and put his head in my lap as I rubbed his shoulders. When he ran his fingers over my fly, I stopped him. “I bet you're tired. Would you like to be held?” “I think that sounds nice.” Why don't we move to the bedroom and get a little more comfortable?” Ian pulled up the front of my shirt and kissed me on the belly. “That sounds like a great idea.” He stood and unbuttoned his shirt as he walked toward the bedroom. I followed. It was a good idea. We had about two days to enjoy our new apartment before our lives got busy. I started my new job and Ian started his summer classes. I was working 9 to 5 and Ian was left to negotiate the campus on his own. I worried about him a little but knew he would manage just fine. He was a very resourceful guy. Ian had classes at different times during the day and got back to the apartment before I did. He spent part of that time putting the place in order. It was helpful to Ian for things to be tidy. A place for everything and everything in its place. He wanted to know where things were so he could move about freely without bumping into something out of place. He was neat and I tended to be much more casual about where I tossed things. We quickly agreed that the little desk under the bedroom window was mine and the kitchen table was his. As a result, the desk was cluttered with my stuff and the kitchen table had a stack of books and another of papers in two neat piles. “You should use the desk,” I told Ian. “You're the student this summer and need it more than I do.” “But we have to eat off the table,” Ian reminded me. “This works better.” It did work better, with the result that our little apartment was unusually clean and orderly considering that it was occupied by a pair of college guys. On the other hand, the kitchen was my territory. Ian had never learned to do much more than pull a soda out of the refrigerator and was happy to leave food preparation to me. I liked to cook, and with a little practice was getting better at it. We ate breakfast together every morning and had time to talk. Usually, it was some combination of eggs, toast and maybe bacon or sausage washed down with milk or orange juice. On the weekends I often fixed us pancakes and there was always coffee. I packed us both a lunch of sandwiches and fruit. When I got home from work I started supper. Ian would help by sitting at the kitchen table and talking with me while I put something together. It was never fancy and our food budget was limited but I got good at the basics. Neither of us was interested in things that were rich and fattening so the menu tended to some combination of salad, vegetables, and meat - usually chicken because it was cheap. It was generally edible, and Ian never complained. When the meal was finished, Ian cleaned and put the kitchen back in order. It worked. On Saturday we normally went to the Safeway near downtown and did most of our shopping. We looked for specials and tried to get just enough to make it through the week. If I needed something during the week there was a little market only a block away. On one of my excursions there, I made an interesting discovery as I looked over the meat case. “What's this?” I asked the owner. “What's what?” he stepped behind the case and wiped his hands on his white apron. “There are two trays of ground meat. One looks like regular hamburger and the other is lean and a dark red.” “That's horse meat.” “What do you do with that? Is it good to eat?” “Yeah, it's OK. Some people use it for dog food but there's nothing wrong with it.” Each tray held a little price sticker perched on a wire holder. The horse meat was a lot cheaper than the hamburger. I was inspired. “Could you mix a half pound of each?” “I can put it together and run it back through the grinder,” he chuckled. I walked out with a pound of lean dark 'hamburger' which I mixed with a little minced onion and made into 'hamburger' steaks with a side of green beans and a salad. Ian took a bite and smiled. "This is good! I like the hamburger steak." “It's pretty lean. Does it taste OK?” “It's delicious. You're getting to be a pretty good cook,” Ian declared as he tucked it all away. I didn't explain but served it to him again several days later. “This is good,” Ian said. “But it's kind of different. What did you put in it?” I hesitated, then confessed. “Actually, it's half beef and half horse meat. I hope that doesn't turn you off.” “Horse meat? Well, that's different. It's tasty, but why horse meat?” “Because it's half the cost of regular hamburger. There's nothing wrong with it except for the idea. I hope you don't mind.” Ian smiled. “ I guess it's OK if it tastes good and saves us money. The real problem is that I like to know what I'm eating. Since I can't see it. I need you to tell me what it is. Does that sound weird?” “No, not at all,” I admitted. “I didn't think of that. I guess I should have told you what it was up front, right?” “That would be better, but now that I know what it is, it's fine.” We had it once a week. We adjusted well to living together and became very comfortable with each other. We even splurged and had a telephone installed in the kitchen. We were in contact with the outside world. Ian began to write to his mother again. He would type a letter and envelope and mail it. He wrote the return address without his name so as not to attract his father's notice. Apparently, the mail wasn't being filtered because she wrote him back, sometimes enclosing a small amount of money. He had me read the letters to him. His mother was apologetic for the problems at home and assured him that she loved him. That helped. As the weather warmed up we resumed our treks out to the lake to hike through the woods and swim. We did pitch the tent one weekend, but the availability of our bedroom removed much of the incentive for camping. Our arrangement was working well, almost too well in one regard. We both began to notice that our jeans were getting smaller. “I'm getting fat,” Ian said. “I think you're feeding me too well.” I tugged at the waist of my pants and agreed. “Me too. I think I need to get more exercise. I just sit at work all day with a soldering iron in my hand and don't move around.” “When I was in high school, I wrestled or swam in the pool. I don't get any exercise now." “We need to do something. Maybe we could start running. Would that work?” Ian chuckled. “It's hard to run with a cane.” “Couldn't you hold on to my arm like you do when we walk?” “I might, but you'd have to warn me if I'm about to run into something.” “I could do that. Want to try it? The weather's nice today.” Ian hesitated. “Where would we go? Dashing across the streets would be a challenge.” “There's a track around the practice field. That should be easy and it's not far.” “It might be fun. Let me get on some shorts and we can try it.” Twenty minutes later we stepped onto the cinder track that ran around a large grassy field that was used for soccer games and kite flying among other things. There were several students who were trotting around either singly or in pairs. We were right at home. “Let's start out walking then try to set a pace,” I suggested. Ian held onto the crook of my arm. “I've never really run before. I mean, I know how, but have never done much of it.” “Don't be nervous. There's nothing in the way and if there is, I'll tell you. Are you ready? Let's go.” I started off at a slow jog and Ian fell in beside me. It felt awkward until I got in step with him. My legs were longer and I normally would take longer strides, but when we got in step things got smoother. “How does that feel?” I asked. “Not bad. It feels nice to be doing something. It helps when we're in step.” “Is this too fast, too slow?” “I could go a little faster.” “You set the pace. We can pick it up when we get used to running,” I laughed. “This is fun. It feels good.” Ian sped up a little and I matched his pace. It was a quarter of a mile around the track and we had done 2 laps when Ian tugged back on my arm. “I'm getting winded. Let's slow to a walk, OK?” “We can't start out running marathons. We'll have to ease into this. How do you feel?” "Good! I feel good. Exhilarated, actually. It feels wonderful to be able to run like that without a cane or worrying about running into something. It feels great!” “Hey, it's nice for me too. I need the exercise and I love anything we do together.” Ian laughed in a carefree way. “We can do a lot together, can't we? Camping, swimming, now running. There's a wonderful freedom in this.” “We might make a pretty good team,” I chuckled. “Let's walk another lap then head back. I bet we're sore tomorrow.” We were, but another run would loosen us up. We began to run as often as time allowed. When we were back at the apartment we felt the need for a shower. I shooed Ian in first while I fixed some sandwiches. One of the interesting things about living with a blind guy was that he didn't worry about whether I could see him or not. As a result, he normally stripped in the bedroom and walked into the bathroom nude, then dressed after he came out. The living room, pass-through kitchen, and bedroom were all lined up on the east side of the building so I could sit from the proper vantage point in the living room and take advantage of some discrete voyeurism. Not that I didn't get a full view of him at other times, but it was a nice show. Ian looked good. The corollary of this was that Ian was immune to my state of undress. As a result, we became pretty casual about clothing. The apartment was heated but not air-conditioned. On hot days we liked to open the windows and let the fresh air in and Ian's pipe smoke out. On such days we often enjoyed the breezes sans clothing. It was very freeing, as Ian would say. I noticed that Ian had about three changes of clothing that he rotated, and they were baggy and a little shabby. I knew Ian wasn't much aware of what he wore but didn't want to make him uncomfortable by pointing out he needed new clothes. “I need to go shopping for some new running shorts,” I announced. “Want to go with me?” “Sure. Let me get dressed.” He put on number 2 in his rotation. There were some trendy men's shops near the campus that catered to the fraternity crowd. There was also a discount store on the other side of town that was cheaper. We drove there. We made our way to the men's clothing section where I picked up some running shorts. I asked Ian as tactfully as I could, “What do you think about getting a few things?” “I have all I need.” “Maybe you could use more than three changes of clothes. We need to have you looking stylish, my man.” Ian was not slow. “I guess I could dress better. I don't think about that.” “Clothes make the man, they say. How are you fixed for funds? Ian hesitated. “I have a little money. You know, from my mother. I need to get a job, I guess.” “How about some new pants and shirts, and maybe some new running shorts? Stuff is cheap here and I could loan you a little if you need extra.” Ian's need to be independent struggled with what he knew was probably a good idea. “I would need to pay you back.” “Sure. Your credit is good. Let's look for some things.” I found some pants and shirts that looked good together but was unsure of the size. “What size are you?” “I don't know,” Ian admitted. “This place is sort of self-serve. Let's try on some things, OK?” I held a pair of pants up to him, guesstimated a couple of sizes, then herded him to a little dressing room and handed him the most likely candidate. “Try these on.” Ian dutifully stripped to his underwear and pulled on the pants. These are a little tight.” I ran my fingers under the waistband and casually groped his crotch. “Do you have enough room?” “They'll get tighter if you don't quit that,” he laughed. “Let's try a larger size.” The second pair fit better. The shirts were fine. We went back out to find three matching pants and shirts. a pair of running shorts and a cool T-shirt then added a package of briefs. "You ready?" I asked. “How much is all this stuff? I'm not sure I have enough. Here,” he said and handed me his wallet. “That's all I have. You pay and tell me what you owe me.” We bundled up his new duds then went to the checkout counter. “You owe me about ten dollars,” I told him as we walked to the car. “I'll put it on your tab.” We had to trust each other. The next morning while I was getting ready for work, Ian tried on one of his new outfits. "how do I look?" he asked with arms outstretched. I looked him over. The new clothes fit him very nicely, loose enough to be comfortable, close enough to show off his fine body. “You look like a million bucks,” I told him. “I'm not sure it's safe to send you out in those. Somebody might steal you.” Ian laughed, obviously pleased. “Do I look OK?” “You look terrific,” I said as I hugged him. “You're the best looking guy on the campus.” He passed his hands down over his waist and hips. “They do fit better. Thanks. This feels nice, both the clothes and the idea that I look better.” “Not better, great. You're a very handsome guy, Ian. You don't ever have to worry about that. Some decent clothes just make that more obvious.” I slapped him on the butt. “Now let me go or I'll be late for work.” Several days later Ian made an announcement. “I have a job,” he told me with a grin. “Good man! What do you have?" “Well, I talked to Stuart on the phone and he gave me some ideas.” “Did you call him at the tavern?” “No, at his apartment. He's not there all the time.” “So what did he say?” I chuckled. “When we go to the Safeway I always help you sack stuff up. It's easy to tell what things are and pack them in the bag. Stuart suggested that I check to see if they need a sacker.” “Did you talk to them?” “I did, and it turns out they need a 'bag boy'.” “You got the job?” “I got the job. I sacked up the groceries for some customers while I was there and it went fine. The customers seemed to get a kick out of it and I got hired on the spot. I start tomorrow.” “Super! Can you fit that around your class schedule?” “Their busy times are before noon and around 3 o'clock when I have a break in my classes. It's kind of a split schedule but I'll get 4 hours a day. And it pays better than minimum wage.” Ian was practically vibrating with excitement. “It's my first real job, Andrew. I can't wait to start!” I grabbed him up and we did a little jig around the apartment. “You're in the money, my man. I'm so proud of you. You can do anything.” We stopped dancing and he held me tight. "I love you, Andrew," he said softly. “I know. I love you too.” Things were moving along. He got in 4 hours a day and 6 on Saturday. They loved him. The money was helpful too. We had a nice time that first summer together. I always knew that Ian had come back before me when I opened the apartment door and was greeted by the aroma of Ian's pipe tobacco. I didn't mind at all that he had taken up smoking but was not tempted to join him. His classes and work schedule cut into our time, but we still had our Sundays together. We were busy and happy. Later in the summer, I had a life changing talk with a guy in one of my math classes. We were discussing our common love for beer and he told me that he made his own. He explained that it was not all that complicated and gave me a recipe for home brew. When I shared the idea with Ian he was enthusiastic. “Think of the money we'd save, and we could invite Stuart over for drinks. Let's try it.” We went to the market and picked up the necessary supplies: 5 pounds of sugar, a can of hop flavored malt syrup, a package of brewer's yeast and a large plastic trash can with a lid. We were all set. “Whoever heard of Hop flavored malt syrup?" Ian asked. “Obviously, there's a market for it,” I grinned. On Sunday we set it up. We filled the trash can with warm water, stirred in the sugar, yeast, and syrup, covered it with a towel and laid the lid loosely over the can. Now we waited. In the meantime, we solicited empty quart beer bottles from everyone we knew - the kind with screw top lids. We soon had several dozen. A daily inspection showed our concoction to be bubbling nicely. It was alive! According to the instructions, after about a week the bubbling would subside and it was ready to bottle. We cleaned out the quart bottles and Ian held the funnel while I carefully dipped out the contents of our brewing vessel to fill each bottle and screw on the caps. The odor was pungent. “Can we really drink this stuff?” Ian asked. “We can try. It looks pretty potent.” “What's the alcohol content?” “I don't know, but I imagine it's stronger than what they sell in the grocery store." We carefully stacked 38 quart bottles under the kitchen sink and waited. The idea was that the small amount of sugar that remained in the brew would be enough to complete the fermentation in each bottle and give it the carbonation needed to make it fizz. On Friday afternoon I returned home before Ian and opened the apartment door to the overpowering smell of beer. I looked in the kitchen to see that the floor was covered in dark liquid, the doors under the sink were standing open and there were shards of glass embedded in the opposite wall. We had a problem. I cautiously looked under the sink and saw that only 7 quarts of our project were remaining Those in the center section had exploded causing a chain reaction that took out most of the others. I closed the cabinet doors, took a broom and dustpan and began scooping up the sad remains of our experiment, dumping the glass and soupy liquid into the empty can. After a time I heard Ian enter the apartment. “Don't come in here!” I called to him. One smell and Ian had some idea of what had happened. “Can I help?” “Stay out of here. There's glass all over.” “Did you drop one?” “No. The damn things exploded.” “Were you here?” “If I was, you would've found a bleeding corpse on the floor.” “What happened?” I told Ian what happened while I cleaned the floor. I carefully put the remaining bottles on the counter and tried to scoop out the mess under the sink, then mopped up the kitchen floor. I didn't want Ian to try and pick up broken glass and had him wait in the living room while I plucked pieces of glass out of the wall. “Was there anything left?” he asked. “There were 7 quarts that didn't go off. I put them on the left side of the counter next to the refrigerator and covered them with a towel in case they explode. Don't touch them, OK?” “OK,” he replied. When I had most of the debris cleaned up I joined him on the sofa. “Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time,” he smiled. “I guess I did something wrong,” I sighed. “I'm the engineer. I should have researched this better.” “Did you get everything cleaned up?” “I did the best I could. That stuff ran everywhere. I imagine there is still some under the cabinet but I can't get back there.” Ian was sympathetic as I stuffed a towel next to the base of the cabinet and fixed something for supper. We opened up all the windows and resigned ourselves to smelling stale beer for a while. I showered then went to bed, not bothering to dress. The next morning I was awakened by a loud knock on the door. I jerked on some shorts and opened the door to see our landlord standing outside with a large plumber's wrench on his shoulder. “I'm here to fix the leak,” he said. “Margaret called and said that the little girls were slipping on the water leaking down from your apartment.” When I let him inside. he stood and inhaled. “Bottled it a little green, eh?” He was smiling as he walked in and looked around the kitchen area. Someone had given us a fifth of Seagram's 7 which was standing unopened on the kitchen table. The landlord looked at it and smiled again. “Could I fix you something?” I asked quickly. When he didn't reply, I tossed some ice in a glass and poured it half full of whiskey. He sat down at our little table, took a long sip and laughed. “You have to be careful with that stuff.” Our landlord drank most of the Seagrams and left in a cheerful mood. That was the last that was said about it. When the remaining bottles remained intact, we put them in the refrigerator to sample later. It was our last attempt at home brewing. All's well that ends well.
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