Jump to content
  • Author
  • 4,809 Words
Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Empty Shoes - 1. Chapter 1

It’s a picture that I keep beside my desk, it is a constant reminder of once what was and today what is. There isn’t a day that goes by that I do not look at it. Painful as it may be, I see it when I wake and gaze upon it as I fall asleep. A copy sits on my desk and if I travel far from home and find myself forgetting, a copy lives in my wallet.

There is pain, unmitigated…overwhelming pain in the memories the picture conjures when I glance upon it. The pain only subsides when I force myself to remember the good and pleasant memories that remind me how full of life we were. Those memories are the ying and yang of my existence. It is what sustains me, nourishes my soul, and helps to keep the forces of dark at bay.


The Beginning

I clearly remember my son’s face the day I had given him the camera. It was the start of his sophomore year. Freshman year had been rough, not so much in the transitioning from Junior High to the big High School but it was the year we found the two of us a family, for better or worse.

Mary Ellen, my beloved wife, and Evan’s mother passed from pancreatic cancer. From the day of diagnosis to her last day on this earth we had four weeks and three and a half days, to absorb, rationalize, pray for the miracle cure and to finally accept that which we could not change.

It was a simple tummy ache, admittedly one that lasted three days, it took that long to convince my wife she needed to be seen. There was a marked change in her bowel movements accompanied by painful nausea and no desire to eat. She kept insisting she was fine, it would pass, her skin started to look jaundiced and I knew we needed to go to the doctor’s office, that’s where the floor fell out from under us and the roof caved in. It may be a bit maudlin, but it was if we were walking down the sidewalk of life, when the piano movers rope broke and the grand piano hurtling at us at 32 feet per second squared, was our date with destiny.


None of this would have been possible if it weren’t for Mary Ellen, my wife of 25 years, my companion, helpmate, trusted advisor, and the other half of my soul. We were as much in love as we were the first time we kissed.

She so wanted children and I, or I should say we, delighted in the trying. We gave it every effort as the kitchen, living room, shower stall, back porch and yes, late one night…on the front lawn after a romantic anniversary dinner will attest to.

After a decade of trying in nearly every other corner of the house as well, I came home to my wife sitting on the front porch steps holding what turned out to be a bottle of non-acholic champagne. And what I was to learn when she unwrapped herself from me, a positive pregnancy test strip!

To say I was floored would be the understatement of the year, I kicked off my shoes and started doing ‘The Dad About to Be Happy Dance’. I grabbed Mary Ellen and seeing no hesitance, we danced our hearts out. A light rain started and we paid it no mind, we were oblivious, we were going to be parents!!

Finally, after all those years of practice we did it…conceived a child!! A child we would love, nurture and care for, a child to raise, to teach, to take on trips exploring the world around us.

To watch this child, grow into a young adult and eventually, leave the nest. If we did our jobs correctly there would be pangs of emotions tugging at us, as college loomed and marriage and grandkids would follow. This then, would be our job, we had discussed it so many times and now, we were sooo ready for it.

A crash of thunder interrupted our reverie and we scooted into the house and celebrated horizontally…several times. I woke up the following morning on cloud nine, I was floating on air as I got ready for work and wondered where in the hell were my shoes…then I remembered. It was still raining, knowing they would be soaked I grabbed another pair and made my way out of the house.

As I stepped out onto the front porch, I looked at my soaked footwear and the memories of yesterday afternoon came flooding back, it was a reminder of so many years of effort and a Kodak moment. I snapped a picture with my cell phone, fully intending to print and frame it. I delighted in the knowledge that in the years to come I would share that moment with our child, hopefully embarrass the heck out of them as they entered the ‘all knowing’ teenage years. A photo that would definitively and for all time answer the question…Dad…where did I come from?

The next nine months went by so fast, each day something new, from morning sickness to a fondness to bread and butter pickles and the juice straight from the jar. From the ultrasound showing us the child growing within, we asked to be kept in the dark as to sex, it simply did not matter, having the child was all we could care about.

From the baby’s first kicks to those awkward steps on Mary Ellen’s bladder, all we knew was joy. We played music for our child, talked to our child, and read way too much in the way of child rearing manuals. We created a nursery, painted it in neutral colors, bought the crib and bassinet, diaper pail and a mountain of diapers. We were so prepared, so ready and were absolutely positive we knew what we were doing. In the history of the world, no two parents to be were better prepared. That is until Mary Ellen’s water broke.

I remember very little of the events from that moment until the obstetrician handed me the scissors to cut my son’s, my perfect little baby boy’s umbilical cord. The delivery nurse handed me our child and I placed one Evan Robert Thompkins, all nine pounds four ounces and 21 inches long into Mary Ellen’s arms. Opening the baby blanket Mary Ellen examined our child, left instructions not to circumcise him, then placed Evan naked against her breast, covering the both of them with the blanket.

We were parents, finally parents! Our precious bundle of joy was an easy child, not to say there were infrequent moments of absolute madness like trying to keep a diaper on Evan, finding accidents here and there and thank God he soon grew out of that.

Racing to the bathroom, desperately out running the projectile vomit, full well knowing the other end was going to be heard from. Or, the time when Even was four and it smelled like he crapped his pants, while we were out to eat. We were with both sets of grandparents and I had asked Evan a couple of times if he needed to go to the boy’s room.

Evan, finally exasperated with me, slid down from his chair and dropped his big boy pants and underwear right there in the main dining room. He bent over facing the table and said, “See dad…they are just farts”.

I was stunned, Mary Ellen was horrified and the grandparents desperately trying not to laugh as the amused patrons of the dining room looked on. Evan re-dressed himself and climbed back into his chair as if nothing had happened. That was Evan through and through, irrepressible, nonplussed and simply was the even keeled master of his world.

Kids do the darndest things

Our lives became immeasurably better in so many infinite ways. Growing up with Evan allowed us to treasure all of those ‘moments’; his first steps, haircut, kindergarten to his first day as an eager boy entering first grade.

Evan took to school like a duck to water, he paid attention, tested well and was a friend to all. As Evan matriculated through elementary school, we watched a confident young tween emerge. By no means was he a saint, he’d had his parental hair rendering moments. It was never deliberate or planned, it was natural enthusiasm. Such as his attempt at building a bike jump out of cardboard boxes, 2X4’s and an old wheelbarrow tub from only God knows where. All of that ended up with a trip to the emergency room for what would turn out to be a ‘green stick fracture’ of his lower left arm.

As Evan grew closer to becoming a fully functional pre-teen, I knew it was time for what I expected would be a few ‘talks’ regarding the birds and the bees. While we weren’t nudists neither were we shy. We had since potty-training, an open-door policy when it came to bathrooms and bed rooms. We all knew a closed door was a request not to be disturbed and one needed to knock, await an answer before going any further.


Evan was a curious fellow and as a toddler he found out about the fun involved in manipulating his penis. Like every boy, once they discover their very best friend, it’s problematical to let go. We had talks about what it was for in terms that were easy for him to comprehend. There was no doubt from the giggling behind the closed bedroom door what he and his agemates were up to on sleepovers. Somewhere around 4th grade Evan and his friends were able to put together the mechanics of masturbation. It was no surprise, it’s something all boys discover, the making the ‘feeling’ and how wondrous it is.

That is until one overdoes it. There had been a sleepover one weekend and while the boys thought their secret activities were private, it was anything but. I was sitting in the den with Mary Ellen watching a program and we could tell the boys were play wrestling. It was by the raised eyebrow I was informed that it might be a good idea to check on the proceedings that were taking place. As I rounded the corner to head up the stairs more than one naked boy was seen running to the bathroom or from the bathroom to Evan’s room. The only odd thing was, to a boy, they were all wearing just their socks. I later found out that the boys thought the socks would help to keep the noise down.

It was the morning after that sleepover when Evan’s guests had departed that he found me in the bathroom. I knew something was up Evan was wearing his underpants and was reluctant to join me in the shower as he normally would. It took a few questions and answers, a boatload of stammering and down cast eyes as he found the gumption, to pull his drawers down and softly asked me not to tell his mother but…he thought he may have broken his penis.

I quickly realized that the time for laughing would come later, I had to be a dad now. In our ensuing conversation, I learned that all the boys wanted to see who could do ‘IT” the greatest number of times. I never went so far as to ask Evan who was the eventual winner in that particular contest but had the discussion about masturbation and different techniques. I very clearly told him there was nothing wrong in the act. And how to care for his injured member.

If he were to share it with others, permission of the other boy was needed and that no one should be forced into anything that made them uncomfortable.

Later that afternoon I had discussed the basics with Mary Ellen with no details of who, how and what. Looking at me she asked me if this was ‘normal’ and when I was a boy did I? My only answer was a raised eyebrow in return and an enigmatic smile.


There were many mornings when Evan was younger that he would join me at some point in the bathroom, he’d watch me shave or join me in the shower, he had no compunction to taking a dump as I did my morning ablutions but would always draw the line and wait till, I had done so and sprayed the air freshener.

Evan loved to be toweled off and basked in the praise of how he was a growing boy, I’d comb his hair when finished, swat his backside, and send him off to get dressed.

We’d meet back in the kitchen giggling between ourselves and Mary Ellen could only shake her head and mutter…boy’s! Breakfast over we’d exchange hugs and kisses and we’d be off to work and school.

I’d arrive home after Evan was done with school and whatever sport he was involved in. There were many a day I had to use personal time at work to attend his games. Many an afternoon we’d sit on the front porch and talk out why his team won or lost, what could he have done better, until he found golf.


Evan took to golf like a bat out of hell. He thrived in that highly competitive environment where personal honor was 99% of the game. He quickly understood that then last 1% was mental and that in a competition, he was playing for his best day and couldn’t be bothered as to what the other golfers were doing.

Evan only lost his cool and his unflappable stoic demeanor would crack when he saw someone fail to play the game ‘right’. He could never use the word cheat or accuse someone of cheating but he would subtly let the other player they were caught and give them the opportunity to make amends.

He had a ‘thousand-yard stare’ and would not hesitate to use it. He’d stop playing and wait till the situation corrected itself. He quickly earned a reputation as an ‘honest and fair golfer. If anything, Evan was tougher on himself, if he felt he did something wrong he’d call a penalty on himself. Weekend mornings found Evan hanging around the golf course where he soon fell in with a cadre of old timers, golf course employees who took care of the course and imparted ever so subtly years of wisdom.

He’d get on his bicycle and pedal the four miles so he would arrive before the course would open and join the greenskeepers. He loved being with his extra grandfathers, he reveled in their attention, soaking up the various nuggets of wisdom they would occasionally impart.

They had taken an old beat-up set of golf clubs sized them for Evan and his next few years of growth. They would, as they manicured the course, place him in all sorts of situations, tell him what this particular situation was, simulating an actual golf game. Through those tests, Evan played the Masters, the US Open, The Open, the PGA, and so forth all while only four miles from home.

No putting from the rough, play it as it lays...

It was through golf that Evan discovered who he was and who he was going to be. When all of this first started Evan’s weekend mornings were sacrosanct. As he entered 7th grade it gave him the determination to join the Junior Varsity golf team. Evan gave it all he had, first to practice and last to leave. His coach told me a number of times, that he had aptitude and the drive necessary to make his talent work. I would later learn that his motto and mantra were two simple quotes…play it as it lays and no putting from the rough.

Evan started to spend significant time with one of his teammates. A young boy who was Evan’s age and just as driven at golf. He ended up staying over on Friday nights with Evan, joining him in his weekend mornings at the golf course.

Micha Zavin was a tall wiry 13-year-old, the same age as Evan and every bit enamored of the game as well. Micha stood a head taller that Evan. Where Evan was stockier thicker built boy, Micha was a bean pole. Where Evan could be unflappable, Micha was the polar opposite and as time would demonstrate, the only person who could penetrate Evan’s demeanor, conversely Evan was the only person who could reach Micha when his temper bubbled to the surface.

They were an odd paring, one that pushed each other on the links relentlessly and within the bounds of the game, hypercompetitive. Typically, JV matches are played at different times than the varsity. And often were the times I would be following the boys during a match, the coaches were too wise to split them up, and the varsity coach would be walking beside me trying to glean where it all came from, and all I could do is simply shake my head and wonder myself. Off the golf course they were simply two normal teenage boys delighting in fart jokes and the like.

Micha could drive the snot off the ball from the tee, Evan was precision from that initial drive to green and both boys could put. Both were frustrated that one excelled where one didn’t but they came together, combining their talents for the better of the team.

They respected the game, many were the weekend mornings I would now drive the boys to the golf club, with a wave and a wink they were out of the car and off like rockets to the greenskeepers office. I would purposely leave the house early to pick them up. I did this so I could chat over coffee and muffins with their adopted grandfathers who would share their delight in the boys. Occasionally the club pro would be there asking if I minded the boys being here and we both laughed our heads off. Often, I would ask for the babysitting invoice and he’d point to the coffee and muffins and said we’re even. They worked with the greenskeepers to earn playing time on the course in the early mornings, in between rounds and other off hours, they’d rake sand traps, use the leaf blowers, and occasionally use some of the mowers under strict supervision.


I noticed that more often than not Evan’s bedroom door would be closed after the boys went to bed on a Friday night and I paid it no mind even as I noticed the boys would more often than not, wait for me to be done in the bathroom before entering.

There were times when it couldn’t be helped and the three of us would find ourselves using the different fixtures of the bathroom on a rotational basis, naked as the day we were born. I was well aware that both boys were no longer on the cusp of tweenhood but deep into the throes of puberty as the bodies of boys becoming that of young men.

It was late one Friday evening and in passing Evan’s door I overheard what I would find out the next day, a very serious discussion betwixt the two boys. I couldn’t hear the hushed words but I could tell from the sentiment something was percolating. An issue was being forced and I could only wonder what in the world could come between them.

Not knowing what to do I finally fell asleep, resolved to be there for them and as such I would get up just a bit earlier and make a fully cooked breakfast. Upon arising I completed my morning bathroom routine and made my way downstairs passing by Evan’s now partially open door.

When I went to wake them, I could not help but to see both boys intertwined with each other sans clothing or bedding, dead to the world. I won’t say I was surprised or unaware but I was amused, I’d be collecting $25.00 from Mary Ellen along with an afternoon of horizontal afternoon delights.

One of them must have gotten up during the night and needed the bathroom and on returning simply forgot to close the door. I gently and as quietly as I could pulled the door nearly closed. At this point the best course of action was to retrace my steps from the bathroom. I flushed again and clomped down the hall and gave the wall of Evan’s bedroom a few hearty slaps loudly announcing that breakfast, pancakes, sausages, bacon, toast, and home fries was awaiting.

There was a tinge of panic as the “o fuck, shit, piss…pass me my underwear’’ and various expletives were uttered by two boys thinking they were caught in the act. Toss in the sounds of two sleepy bodies, not fully caught up with their minds, trying to cover up, get partially dressed and mobile was the highlight of my morning.

Eventually the boys found the kitchen table looking as if butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths each wearing the others underpants. They were trying for the epitome of calm, cool and collected and not succeeding very well. I let them be, I knew when it was time for a discussion, and I would have to let Evan know that Micha would have be there.

The ride to the golf course was quiet, there was palatable tension in the car. I was sure Evan knew I had seen them this morning, if his mien was any indication. Letting them off by the greenskeepers office I held Evan back a second and quickly told him that I loved him and to use one of his favorite expressions…I told him that there would be no putting from the rough today…to play it as it lays. His face lit up and a smile engulfed his face as he hugged me back and whispered…” Thanks, I love you too.”


When I got back to the house I went to the kitchen to fix breakfast for Mary Ellen only to find her sipping a cuppa. In my place at the table were two ten’s and a fiver. She handed me her cell phone and there was a picture of the two boys, starkers’ and obviously in love by the way they held each other in their sleep. Unbeknownst to me she must have gotten up before I did.

There was no question by either of us, we had had this discussion a few times over the ensuing years. Evan was our child one who was a gift, after so…so many years of trying. That it was inconceivable that we would love him any less because of who he chose to love. We only hoped that he’s choose wisely and we both thought the world Micha and thought he was good for him.


We decided we would have the discussion this afternoon, once the boys were back and freshly showered. It wasn’t that they were gay or experimenting, it was the need to address the issue of the two of them having sex in our house. We weren’t stupid, the genie had come out of the bottle closet …so to speak. They were going to find ways to have sex and we’d rather it was in a safe location than God knows where.

We called Micha’s parents and let them know we were going to take the boys out to supper tonight and with their permission we’d send him home Sunday after breakfast. They were delighted to have another ‘adult’ night and agreed to let him stay.

The ride back from the golf club was much better than the morning. The boys were garrulous to say the least. They played 9 holes against two seniors from the varsity team and won by a stroke. Micha sank a 25-foot put after Evan, from a hundred and seventy-five yards, hit a five iron onto the green from the rough, a good fifteen feet off the fairway.

Once home the boys were told to go shower and to come back down ready to go out to an early supper. After recapping the match for Mary Ellen, the boys raced upstairs to get ready.

We retired to the den and put some soft classical music on and took the time the boys were in the shower, together to reminisce, and we weren’t fools, to remind ourselves of how much we were still in love and how impossible it seemed. How exponentially had our love had grown that afternoon so long ago, when Mary Ellen waited for me on the front porch, with the news that would change our lives immeasurably for the better.

We heard the boys tromp down the stairs and head for the kitchen looking for us and a bit of sustenance. There was a muted discussion of the sort I partially overheard last evening. What we could make out as they came towards the den was Evan reassuring Micha, that it would be ok, he was sure we knew, after all the mix-up with the underpants was a dead giveaway. All they had to do was to confirm their love for each other and make it official.

I have to give Micha credit, he looked as if he was being led to the firing squad. I think if you were to open the dictionary at that moment and look for the definition of morose, his picture would appear next to the definition. He would have given his right arm to be anywhere else.

Evan had Micha’s hand clamped into his as they walked into the den, his face a picture of determination, as they walked around where we were sitting and sat together on the couch still holding hands.

Taking a deep breath and briefly looking at Micha, Evan quietly and simply stated that they were boyfriends. After professing his undying declaration, Evan turned to Micha and wrapped him in a hug whispering reassurance softly in his ear.

Getting up, Mary Ellen went over to Micha and beckoned him to stand and as he stood she encircled him in her arms gently stroking his back. The dam burst as he melted in her arms.

Micha was from a conservative Jewish family, one of three siblings and the youngest of two boys. The family while not orthodox and more than likely lapsed, still held to traditions.

He feared the loss of Evan and the sanctuary of our home. He was deathly afraid of our rejection and finding our acceptance was a huge relief. I motioned Evan over and wrapped him up in my arms as well and told him that I loved him, would always love him and was immensely proud that he would trust and share this with us. In my mind, and the way I saw it, was a reaffirmation of the values we instilled, taught, and lived our lives by.

The big announcement delivered and accepted, had relaxed all of us and allowed us to take our seats. Mary Ellen went on to mortify the boys with a very frank and very graphic discussion on sex and responsibilities. There wasn’t a topic she discussed in detail, from oral and anal sex to the basic obligations the two now had towards each other.

By the time she was finished the boys were squirming in their seats. I knew there wasn’t much I could add to this discussion but needed my dad moment however.

I went over to the fireplace mantle and picked up the picture of my soaked shoes. I went on to explain the import, the meaning, and the very deep connection this picture made to us. That after a decade of trying we finally had our miracle baby, our beautiful Evan. That we would allow him to grow up in a home where he would be judged on his love was inconceivable to us. This picture was simple proof of that.

I gave the boys my blessing with the admonitions that they treat each other with dignity and respect, to respect our house and finally respect us. There were to be no overt displays of lust, some things needed to be best left behind closed doors. Evan turned beet red at that comment.

Continuing I told them their privacy was assured while in this house, that we were ok with hugs and simple kisses in the public areas of the house. And now they were both were responsible for their personal needs. We would show them how Mr. Laundry Machine and Mrs. Dryer worked; we didn’t need to see the results of their love. Both boys buried their heads in their hands and groaned.

Copyright © 2021 drsawzall; All Rights Reserved.
  • Like 15
  • Love 19
  • Haha 2
As always, thanks for your time in reading, your thoughts and comments are truly appreciated!
Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
You are not currently following this author. Be sure to follow to keep up to date with new stories they post.

Recommended Comments

Chapter Comments

6 hours ago, GLH said:

An auspicious beginning to what I'm sure will become another awesome drsawzall tale.

That comment is deeply appreciated and I thank you!

  • Like 5
Link to comment

At some point you would think I would be able to navigate the story publishing info like a pro...HA!!

Thanks for reading and your comment!!

  • Like 4
Link to comment

A very nicely written start and introduction to the story, it drew me in and left me wanting more. It definitely looks like one to read to the end.

  • Like 3
  • Love 1
Link to comment

I'm not sure if I'm ready for a heartbreak but the story has been so good so far I don't think I can stop either. You managed to present the passage of time very seamlessly despite the jumps here and there. 

  • Like 4
Link to comment

What a lovely beginning to the story. 


As I stepped out onto the front porch, I looked at my soaked footwear and the memories of yesterday afternoon came flooding back, it was a reminder of so many years of effort and a Kodak moment.

I know from the description of the photo taken by Evan's dad exactly where to find the picture.  I had not read your story on that site, but do love IOMFATS story prompts, because the prompts inspire very good stories like this.  I am anxious to read the full story now.  Thanks for your wonder chapter.

  • Like 2
Link to comment

How nice to read a ‘coming out’ story written from the perspective of a loving parent! It suits your writing style to present this story as a memory / retrospective - a moving fusion of fact and feeling.

Evan and Micha were lucky to encounter such understanding. I wonder what the future holds for this family, knowing what becomes of Evan’s mother.

I’ll catch up on the remaining three chapters in the next few days.

  • Like 1
  • Love 1
Link to comment
1 hour ago, James Carnarvon said:

How nice to read a ‘coming out’ story written from the perspective of a loving parent! It suits your writing style to present this story as a memory / retrospective - a moving fusion of fact and feeling.

Evan and Micha were lucky to encounter such understanding. I wonder what the future holds for this family, knowing what becomes of Evan’s mother.

I’ll catch up on the remaining three chapters in the next few days.

Thanks James, I truly appreciate the comment and look forward to your thoughts!!

  • Like 1
Link to comment

This can't be the easiest way to tell a story, keeping it interesting and not boring, but the truth is you're amazing and brilliant. And the storyline is clear and well thought out. With your powerful use of English, is very enjoyable I can't wait to read more of this story to that end I read on!


Edited by Albert1434
  • Like 1
  • Love 1
Link to comment
13 hours ago, Albert1434 said:

This can't be the easiest way to tell a story, keeping it interesting and not boring, but the truth is you're amazing and brilliant. And the storyline is clear and well thought out. With your powerful use of English, is very enjoyable I can't wait to read more of this story to that end I read on!


It is a difficult subject to cover, and at times I struggled with it..

  • Love 1
Link to comment
View Guidelines

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Newsletter

    Sign Up and get an occasional Newsletter.  Fill out your profile with favorite genres and say yes to genre news to get the monthly update for your favorite genres.

    Sign Up
  • Create New...

Important Information

Our Privacy Policy can be found here: Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..