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    Jason MH
  • Author
  • 5,196 Words

Between the Shadow and the Soul - 4. It's a Survival Trait

Contains implied marijuana use by adults and a minor.

June 26, 2016

"It's getting hot outside," Nate announced.

"And water's wet, you nitwit. Besides, what are you, the weatherman now?"

"No," he said sharply as he smacked the back of my head.


"Quit your bitchin and listen. Let's get the cars out of the garage so you can clean like you've been promising."

"What will you be doing, pray tell, scoring my performance?"

He snickered. "I'll give you a ten if you put the broom back where it belongs when you're done."

"One time I forget to put it away and now that's all I hear about," I groaned.

"You're not the one who tripped over it with your arms full of groceries."

"Would you like some cheese with your whine today, sir?"

Nate smacked me on the back of the head again as he headed toward the garage. "No, you jackass! And for your information, while you clean I'll put the shelves together so we can get that crap off the floor."

He meant the miscellaneous stuff that garages seem to accumulate, especially right after a move. Which seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing for him to do while I cleaned the other crap garages seem to accumulate, especially right after a move, like empty boxes, dirt and chaff, and the extraneous sundries of life that are found wanting when they're unpacked.

Shrugging, knowing the heat and humidity would only get worse the longer we waited, I followed him as I said, "Fine, boss. Let's do it."

* * * * *

Once he'd assembled the shelves and we'd placed the unit where we wanted it, I helped Nate transplant various boxes, tools, and odds and ends that had sprouted around the periphery of the garage.

Afterward I refocused on the last bit of cleaning as he fetched our shirts and headed inside. A few minutes in the stifling heat of the garage had proved too much for us, so we'd removed our tops and used them as rags, wiping away sweat and dirt as we worked.

Grabbing the broom again, I herded the final grit and detritus into a nice little pile, corralled that into a dustpan, then trotted the mess over to the trash bin. Because I can be a good boy sometimes, I even hung the broom and dustpan on the wall as I backed out of the garage to survey the results of my elite cleaning skills.

My best friend came out of the house with two beers, an accomplished grin on his face. I wasn't sure if he felt we'd accomplished greatness by organizing the garage, he'd accomplished greatness by grabbing beer, or I'd accomplished greatness by putting the broom back where it belonged.

I'd've bet on beer greatness.

Handing me the dark ale, bottle already opened, Nate peeked across the street to see if Malinda was out and about. Shrugging with disappointment, he glanced around my shoulder as he surveyed the neighborhood.

Even with the bottle dumping cold alcohol into my mouth, I could see the curious look on his face.

"What?" I asked after I swallowed.

"Don't turn around, but I think we might have a visitor heading this way."

Taking his advice, I remained facing the garage. "Who?"

Snidely he muttered, "You ain't shittin through feathers so quit hootin."

"Rude much?"

He smirked and nodded. "All the time. Anyway... I'd say it's definite we're about to have a guest."

I knew. Immediately I knew. Nate's face had gone from inquisitive to contemplative. He clearly thought this an interesting turn of events.

Go inside!

Instead I turned around. I had to. Despite their divorce early in my life, my parents had raised me to be a gracious host, even when a visitation came unexpectedly.

And even when I had mixed emotions about said visitor.

Wet board shorts, a half-dry-and-half-wet sleeveless t-shirt, flip flops, a towel wrapped around his neck and dangling over his shoulders, and damp hair meant Basketball Boy was probably returning from the neighborhood pool a few blocks away. Either that or he just did battle with a garden hose. One can never be certain without all the facts.

"Shit..." I groaned. Part of me felt happy to see him, a new friend coming to visit, and part of me felt petrified at his presence, the reopening of an old wound.

"You did say last night that you hoped he'd be back."

"No, I said 'he shouldn't' come back."

"Yeah, but after that you admitted you think you hope so."

I murmured that. Halfway up the stairs. Under my breath.

Damn bionic hearing.

"Doesn't he have a home to go to?"

Nate stepped beside me and leaned his head toward me as he quietly asked, "Are you complaining?"

Say yes!

Dropping my head I muttered, "I don't know."

For fifteen years I've had this black hole in my head. Kyle's the only one who's ever lit the chasm, even if only for a moment.

I keep that darkness there for a reason.

And what good has it done?

"A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. Or so I've heard."

"What in hell are you talking about?" My face no doubt showed the same confusion my tone carried.

"I think you know." His voice was full of compassion.

And I did know.

Knowing isn't all it's cracked up to be. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

I shook my head.

I can't even lie to myself convincingly anymore.

Somewhere inside that nebulous dark place of my mind, somewhere behind that blind spot I maintained with loathing and yesteryear, I'd glimpsed Nate's meaning just last night, illuminated briefly by Basketball Boy.

And it scared the shit out of me.

Some things are better left in the annals of history.

Only after you learn from them.

I suddenly felt exposed and improper, as though my bare torso announced my shame, as though standing shirtless in Kyle's presence made me a bad person.

"I need my shirt," I mumbled, though I suddenly felt too queasy to move.

Nate sighed with a shake of his head. "No, G-Man, you don't. You aren't the bad guy."

"But I was part of it!" I whispered with vehemence.

My best friend reached up and stroked my back, his hand finally coming to rest against my neck, which he squeezed lovingly yet unflinchingly, essentially holding me in place.

"Consider this immersion therapy," he told me in a hushed voice.

Every muscle in my body tensed as I watched Kyle cross the street, stroll up our driveway, and stop a few feet in front of me.

"Hey, Greg." He sounded happy, enthusiastic.

"What's up, Kyle? Been swimming?" My voice came out strained, a little shaky.

An inquisitive look passed across his face. "Yep. Went to the gym first, though, then swimming after."

"Who'd you work out with?" Nate asked as he released my neck, knowing full well the time for running had come and gone.

Why does he care? Why does it matter who the kid worked out with?

Oh no...

Shrugging, Basketball Boy replied, "Nobody to go with me. I did it by myself."

As a gym owner and personal trainer who happened to look like a black Greek god, Nate took exercise seriously, both his and everybody else's, and he had a sincere interest in people's workout habits.

But I knew it wasn't that innocent. Not with Nate. Not in this case.

"Dude, that's not safe. You need a spotter. And you need someone to show you the ropes if you're just getting started."

Shut up, Nate!

"I'd help but I work at a gym across town. You'd either have to spend all day there or you'd need transportation based on my schedule."

Don't go there, Nate.

I tried to think of a way to derail his increasingly obvious train of thought, but I felt like I was about to lose control. My body trembled slightly and my breathing shallowed and stuttered. The whole world suddenly swam inside that blind spot. I felt like talking would push me over the edge, make me pass out.

"You know Greg goes all the time."

Stop talking! Stop digging my hole for me! Stop!

At least I was still wearing my sunglasses, thus any insanity in my eyes remained hidden. In an attempt to limit Kyle's ability to see the crazy dripping from my pores, I retreated a step and rotated a bit to put the dark garage behind me and the sun in his face.

My momma didn't raise a fool.

"Yeah, we talked about it last night. He has a great build. That's what I want to look like."

Giving me an appreciative once-over for emphasis, Nate explained, "It takes time, dude, time and dedication and hard work."

"I know."

"The best and safest way to get there is to have help."

Why can't he get control of that waggling tongue of his? This sounds like a sales pitch.

Uh, maybe it sounds that way because that's what it is.

Oh. Of course. I knew that.

"Which gym do you go to?"

In the name of all that's holy, why did I ask that? It's like I'm helping with my own demise.

Gesturing vaguely down the road as if we could see the place, Kyle replied, "The one right around the corner next to Starbucks."

"I'm pretty sure you know where that is," Nate chuckled, giving me a humored glance. Then turning back to Basketball Boy: "That's where Greg goes. Both the gym and the Starbucks. If you could convince him to stop going at oh dark thirty, maybe you could tag along."

Shut your dirty mouth, Nate!

The situation was spiraling out of control. It was absolutely not okay to suggest Kyle go to the gym with me. That would be entirely inappropriate.

And as I grew increasingly resentful about Nate doing this, he caught the vibe and gave me a long, steady look.

One curse of having a best friend for twenty years plus change was that we knew each other too well. Neither of us could hide things from the other. We read each other like favorite, familiar books.

Reaching out and wrapping an arm around my shoulders, he pulled me to him, letting his calm demeanor flow into my nerve-wracked body. I drew strength from him and from the knowledge that Nate loved me, would never hurt me, had only my best interests in mind no matter how much of a meddling dimwit I thought he was from time to time.

Even as I drew in a deep, steadying breath, my best friend turned his gaze back to the kid as he said, "Greg knows what he's doing and could help with spotting and getting you on a solid routine." Turning to give me a look that offended the very idea of innocence, he added, "You wouldn't mind, would you, G-Man?"

Damn it to hell! Of course I mind. Not gonna happen. And where did the goosebumps come from? What's wrong with me?

Biting my tongue so I wouldn't snap at Nate for going there and schooling my features so I didn't give him the death glare to end all death glares, I pondered the situation.

Kyle's just a kid and I'm twice his age. Impropriety doesn't begin to describe how that would look.

"I have clients as young as you," Nate explained, obviously picking up my thoughts and dealing with them in the course of normal conversation.

His parents would never allow it. They don't even know me.

"We'd need to ask your parents first."

Get out of my head!

Nate smirked.

Kyle was nodding with increasing enthusiasm. "That's not a problem," he offered with a hopeful tone, then to me adding, "I'd really appreciate the help. I want to be serious about this. I want to do it right. And you—" He gestured to me, up and down my body. "—have the kinda build I want. You could teach me, right? You could help me?"

Waving his hand in front of me like a model from The Price Is Right showing off a new appliance, my best friend explained, "You don't accomplish this overnight. Keep in mind, too, that Greg has genetics on his side. He doesn't have to work too hard to stay in shape." Then gesturing up and down Kyle's body he went on, "But you might be a mesomorph like him—"

"A what?" Basketball Boy interrupted.

"A mesomorph is somebody with a natural tendency toward good shape and definition, with the right bone structure and natural muscle development that make getting and staying in shape easier."

"Oh. Okay."

I bit my bottom lip to keep from grinning. Nate was in his element. He was very smart about these things.

He had to be, really, because he was an ectomorph, a skinny little runt who had to work hard to build and maintain the physique he wanted. But that made him an excellent personal trainer, somebody who'd learned from their own struggle and experience about what it took to achieve results.

When we hit our early teens, my body began growing in all the right places while my trusted sidekick grew taller but stayed thin and lanky. By high school I had the height and build of a fitness model. Even though I looked like I lived in the gym, the only one I'd ever been in was for P.E. class. And I never took that seriously.

Nate, on the other hand, had one of those thin, concave chests, little flesh on his arms, ribs that always showed, and the most atrocious chicken legs I'd ever seen. I felt bad for him, given what my body did all on its own, and he felt jealous because I got all the attention while he got pitiful looks and cold shoulders.

Not that I wanted the attention by then, but that wasn't the point.

Never resenting what I had as a gift, he set about remaking himself with me as his model. Mom even hired a personal trainer to guide and assist him. Thus began his passion for physical fitness that resulted in his body metamorphosing into the epitome of gym-built aesthetics.

"The point is," Nate said to Kyle, drawing me from my memories, "Greg's a mesomorph. Given your shape, you might be as well. I mean, shit, you even look like him when he was a bit younger than you are now. If that's the case, building a body like his won't be so difficult. But it'll still take hard work and perseverance."

"I'm in!" Basketball Boy declared. He smiled at me as though this was a done deal.

So what if I think the kid's attractive? I want to be his friend. Like almost every gay man on the planet, I've spent plenty of time quashing attraction to protect working relationships and friendships. Why should this be any different?

"I don't know, Nate. I usually go pretty early."

I was stalling. Nate's features showed he knew exactly what I was doing.

I shouldn't do this. I refuse to be him, I refuse to be like him.

He doesn't need me to change his diapers! He just needs guidance, help, a mentor. Why is that so frightening?

The Fiend, that's why.

My hand absentmindedly touched the tattoo of a phoenix and Italian script just to the front of my left hip, and my fingers started rubbing what it hid.

But he set out to do what he did. I'm just making friends. I could never be what he was or do what he did.

I noticed Nate looking down at my hand. Kyle's eyes followed his and a questioning look took over his face as he watched.

That's when I realized what I was doing. So I pushed my hand into the pocket of my shorts.

Every respectable gay person knows how to function normally around someone they find attractive. It's a survival trait.

Thinking he's attractive isn't the problem, is it?

But I'm not him!

No doubt seeing the reluctance on my face and hearing the hesitation in my voice, Kyle shrugged and said, "It's okay. I understand if you can't. Duane sometimes helps." Though keeping his voice dismissive, disappointment laced his words.

What if someone let me down when I needed guidance? What if Mom had left me to my own devices? What if Dad hadn't flown down from Portland to sit in my hospital room, waiting for me to open my eyes, waiting to be there for me when I needed all the help I could get?

What if Nate had walked away instead of being by my side as I discovered myself? What if he'd blamed me, dismissed me because of what happened with—

"Nah. Greg'll help. Won't you, G-Man?" My best friend gave my shoulder a good squeeze to punctuate the question.

Stuff a sock in it, you lovable jackass!

Smiling, knowing I couldn't help myself even while knowing I should refuse, my mouth opened and acquiescence fell out. "It's no big deal, Kyle. I'd love to help. And Nate's right about spotters and about learning the right exercises and how to do them correctly. It'd be better this way."

"No shit? You'll help me? Thanks, man!" His whole face lit up with gratitude and it hit me like a truck.

I did that, I made him happy, I made him smile like that. How is that wrong? How is that bad?

"Sure he will. Greg's an awesome dude like that." Holding his fist out toward Kyle he added, "I'm Nate, by the way. Forgive my best friend's bad manners for not introducing us."

They bumped fists as, for the first time since arriving, our neighbor boy turned his full attention to the man standing beside me.

After a blatant once-over, Kyle's eyes widened as he declared, "Fuck, man, you're swole!"

Flattery will get you everywhere with Nate, kiddo.

Beaming with the pride of a freshly stroked ego and not a little bit of inflamed narcissism, looking like a preening peacock, my best friend gave a blatantly fake shrug of modesty. "Thanks, dude. I do it all for the ladies."

Giving him a condescending stare, I didn't disguise the sarcasm in my voice when I interjected, "Clearly I misunderstood, dude. I thought there were health benefits."

Like getting caught with his britches down, Nate scrambled for the briefest moment. "Oh, sure, yeah, for health reasons. Elasticity of muscles and tendons and ligaments and such. Plus burning calories, though I doubt you two have to worry about that just yet. Then there's bone health and muscle mass, improved kinesthetics, overall fitness, cardiovascular health, blah blah blah."

Here it comes.

He aimed a conspiratorial wink at Kyle, having regained the upper hand in our mental jousting. "But what you're really shooting for at your age is aesthetics, shaping the body for maximum presentation. You know—well, you wouldn't know, Greg, but maybe Kyle does—the ladies appreciate a man who takes care of his bod." He waggled his eyebrows for emphasis.

I wanted to vomit. Not because the statement wasn't true, since it clearly was, but because Nate was pushing buttons on Kyle that Kyle might not have discovered yet.

That glimpse, that momentary view of what lay behind the darkness of my mental blind spot, that temporary trip to realms heretofore unvisited showed me something about Basketball Boy.

About myself as well, sure, but about him I felt most certain.

Therefore I knew Nate was focused like a laser on the truth of that discovery. Why he would do it I couldn't quite guess, but he was intentionally throwing light and heat onto a part of Basketball Boy that the kid might not have known about, let alone understood.

Despite the brown tone of his skin, a blush erupted on Kyle's neck and spread all over his face. Even his ears changed color.

"Oh. Uh huh. Right. They do," he stammered.

Nate gave me a sly smile, the kind best friends share that allows one to tell the other that somebody's about to stir up more shit. I responded with a scowl, intent on telling the bonehead to stop whatever it was he thought he was doing.

But he'd already made up his mind that what he intended was necessary, even if I disagreed.

He gave Kyle an up and down before saying, "Dude, Greg says you have a lady friend. Are you in love?"

My best friend was light-years ahead of me. He knew about Basketball Boy, the same thing I'd glimpsed momentarily the previous night.

Of course he knows! He knew about me before I did. He's gifted that way. He knows. He just knows.

Before it had fully faded, Kyle's blush went nuclear. Bronze skin darkened to a deep crimson that spread down his neck and disappeared beneath the collar of his shirt. If I was a betting man, I'd put odds on the blush covering his entire chest.

He'll burst into flames if Nate doesn't stop.

Basketball Boy shook his head as he dropped his face, suddenly finding interest in something at his feet.

With the kid's eyes diverted, I elbowed Nate. Hard.

He gasped as his head snapped in my direction, eyes wide.

"Nah," Kyle finally admitted, lifting his head to face us again, the blush slowly fading, "I don't love her. I'm not there yet."

Thankfully Nate and I had both turned to look at Kyle when his head moved, otherwise he would have seen the silent war of words passing betwixt us.

I don't think he knows. He's only fifteen, so he's probably just figuring things out.

"You're still young," Nate announced as though he'd just discovered the Rosetta Stone. "You have plenty of time to figure out who you are and what you want."

He might be my best friend, but I'll kill him if he keeps poking that hornets' nest. Give the kid time.

And who prodded me when I denied who I was?

That's different!

But I knew it wasn't different. Nate had a gift, the gift of knowing, and he knew how to poke and prod when it was necessary, a gift he'd honed and refined and made perfect since The Fiend.

Squaring his shoulders and jutting his chin out as if infused with newfound strength, Kyle took a deep breath before asking, "Think we can burn one?"

I blinked at him, trying to shift gears. He definitely had a gift for non sequiturs.

As he turned and headed indoors Nate quipped, "Nonlinear but copacetic." Once he reached the kitchen door he called over his shoulder, "You boys coming?"

* * * * *

Pleasantly stoned and relaxed, I walked Kyle through the kitchen to the garage. "Text me your cell number so I can call you about the gym."

"Cool." He walked out to the driveway, me by his side.

"I'll have to ask your mom or dad—"

"Stepdad," he corrected as he spun around. He didn't sound upset; he sounded like he was reminding me of something I clearly forgot, like lunch is at noon instead of one.

"Right. Stepdad. Anyway, I'll need to talk to one of them about the gym before we get started. Just so they know and it's okay and all that stuff."

You're rambling, Greg. Shut up.

"I'll tell my mom to call you and I'll text you my number as soon as I get home."

He hadn't moved, still standing a few paces away, facing me, looking at me with that unreadable expression of his. Then he smiled before saying, "Thanks, man. For everything. I like hanging out with you."

"Me, too, Kyle."

Before I could say more he added, "I hope we'll be good friends." Then he turned and walked away.

"I hope so," I mumbled to his back.

Though admittedly I wasn't sure about that.

Functioning around an attractive guy is easy. It's a survival trait, after all. But Kyle's not just some attractive guy. He's something else. He's in my head. And I don't know if that's survivable.

* * * * *

Ten minutes after walking inside, I saved Kyle's cell number and texted him a quick thanks, both for sending his number and for hanging out with us.

"What the flying fucking was that?" I aimed a good deal of animosity toward Nate as he settled on the couch with a beer and his tablet.

"What?" His innocence could have convinced a jury.

But not me.

"Don't give me that bullshit." Waving almost frantically before I could locate the direction of the garage and point there, I demanded, "Tell me, Nate. Tell me, Little Big Man—" I knew that name would get his attention. I hadn't called him that since high school, a nickname I'd given him years before then when his diminutive size failed to diminish his massive presence in my life. "—what the fuck were you doing out there? Why would you push him on me?"

"Call it an intervention."

"Listen, Dr. Phil, I don't need—"

"But you do, G-Man!" he interrupted with a great deal of emotional vehemence. "You need to deal with it."

"Who are you to—"

"I'm your best friend, that's who, the guy who knows you better than you sometimes know yourself."

"You can't force me to spend time with a kid. A kid, Nate! He's a boy! And I don't mean boy as used in the gay vernacular where even a wrinkled and gray seventy-year-old man can call himself GeriatricBoy and get away with it."

"He'd spell it b-o-i, though, so that's different," he interrupted, his unflinching gaze never leaving my own, a look of spirited determination on his face.

Gritting my teeth even as I chuckled, waving away his remark, I continued, "I mean a real boy, an underage male human, the very antithesis of what's good for me."

Is that true? Not that I want an underage boy, mind you. But is Nate right about me clouding everything with the fog of The Fiend and thereby blinding myself to truths that seem obvious to everyone else?

"What's good for you is hidden behind that damnable blind spot you keep in your head, G-Man! You don't know what's good for you!" He was close to shouting.

As was I when I demanded, "And you do? You do, Little Big Man? You know what's best for me?"

Lowering his head, shaking it briefly to discard my anger, he returned his eyes to mine, unshed tears in them, nothing but love and compassion and understanding held there, then he said in the same voice he'd used when I awoke in the hospital, "Yes, I know. I knew then and I did nothing. I should have done something. I should have said something. But I didn't. I saw it happening and I did nothing."

My breath hitched. My mouth fell open.

All this time I've focused on hiding from what happened and in the process I've denied my best friend's torment. I pushed everything into the darkness, including Nate's very real wounds, as real as my own.

What kind of friend have I been?

So focused on me and what I think I need that I couldn't see his needs, that's the kind.

How fucked up am I?

"Stop it!" he yelled. "I see the wheels turning. I know what you're thinking. You're digging yourself a deeper hole, G-Man, and you need to stop it. You did nothing wrong, so stop blaming yourself.

"The point is that I stood around once when I could have saved you. I'll be fucked to high heaven if I'm going to stand around anymore.

"That kid—" He gestured toward the garage. "—that boy as you pointed out—has accomplished in a few months what nobody has accomplished in more than fifteen years. He's made you face what you deny."

"I'm not in denial!"


"Yes you are. And a little immersion therapy seems like the kind of medicine you need. Or at least the only medicine that's ever come close to working."

Immersion therapy. He said that earlier. I didn't get it then and—

Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck. And fuck.

"That's not cool, Nate." I sounded defeated. I'd already given in, accepted his logic. And I didn't like it.

But Nate had always been there for me, had always taken care of me, had never let me down, even if he felt otherwise.

My best friend had my back. That'd been true for twenty years. I couldn't imagine a time when he'd put me in harm's way, when he'd act to cause me pain, when he'd intentionally do something bad for me.

And the anguish in his face hurt me. Not just because his love for me caused him to feel the pain I'd carried with me for fifteen years, but also because, as he'd just admitted, he had his own pain, his own wounds, his own needs stemming from what happened with The Fiend.

I didn't know what to say. For all those years he'd hidden that from me, hidden it so well I never would have guessed at its existence.

What have I blinded myself to? What else?

He needs healing as much as I do. And his is tied directly to my own.

How could I have been so selfish to not see it? What kind of friend am I?

I'd thought it a survival trait to push so much into that black chasm, to hide so many things there that seemed to threaten me, but I'd been so enthusiastic that I became overzealous, pushing parts of my best friend into that blind spot. And I'd been blind to his suffering because of it.

Then the doorbell rang.

We both started from the intrusion.

A mental reset took place, whatever came before set aside as we joined forces, like we always did, putting on a unified front irrespective of whatever little bump we'd hit in our relationship.

Nate tossed me a questioning look. I shrugged, making clear my psychic gifts had limits and no, I didn't know who was at the door, then I headed to the entranceway.

Through the peephole I could see a petite woman, maybe my age or a little older. She didn't look like a marauder or murderer, so I gave Nate another shrug before opening the door.

"Hi," I said cheerfully, staring into a pair of blue eyes that looked a lot like a certain neighborhood boy.

Dressed in a loose white tank top and beige cargo shorts and a pair of leather sandals, her brown curls falling about her face and shoulders, a pretty but not beautiful woman with no wrinkles and a brilliant smile looked up at me and asked, "Are you Greg Beaumont?"


She held her hand out and, as I grasped it, she gave me a prim and professional handshake, firm but not too firm, and told me, "My name's Teresa Barton. I'm Kyle's mom."

That pronouncement totally stepped on my buzz.

Copyright © 2018 Jason MH; All Rights Reserved.
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I'm enjoying your story a lot.    The more that you reveal (and create) the dynamic of the twenty-year friendship between Greg and Nate, the more  complex and absorbing  it becomes to read.  And Kyle as a sort of fulcrum between the past and the present extends and deepens your story's  charge.  Also, all three are engaging characters whose lives matter to the reader.  And I really enjoy specific pieces of your language:  "...to limit Kyle's ability to see the crazy dripping from my pores..."is so fine, and Nate gesturing his hand in front of Greg like "showing off a new appliance" on TPIR is laugh-out-loud funny.  Thanks for such a satisfying story.  

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On 1/1/2019 at 10:21 AM, everett Weedin jr said:

I'm enjoying your story a lot.    The more that you reveal (and create) the dynamic of the twenty-year friendship between Greg and Nate, the more  complex and absorbing  it becomes to read.  And Kyle as a sort of fulcrum between the past and the present extends and deepens your story's  charge.  Also, all three are engaging characters whose lives matter to the reader.  And I really enjoy specific pieces of your language:  "...to limit Kyle's ability to see the crazy dripping from my pores..."is so fine, and Nate gesturing his hand in front of Greg like "showing off a new appliance" on TPIR is laugh-out-loud funny.  Thanks for such a satisfying story.  


Thank you so much for your feedback! I appreciate it.


Greg and Nate were a joy for me to write. Their relationship was so natural given their history. It's refreshing to know they come across as realistic and believable; they certainly were to me as I wrote this tale.


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     Yes, the interplay between Nate and Greg is the seasoning for this story and illuminates your ability as a creative writer. Okay, I know that is a mixed metaphor, but it illustrates my fascination with the story from the aspect of being a writer myself. My writing skills are far too phlegmatic (read 'engineering report boring') to jump into the area of metaphor as gracefully as do you. It makes for far more intense reading than that of which I am capable.

     Go for it, Dude!

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Teresa is an incredible character!  I cannot begin to tell you how awesome her interaction with the guys was! I was equally amused and amazed. 

Greg’s words to her about understanding the feelings but not the target...that’s one of the best ways I’ve ever heard that expressed!! 

And I love the relationship between Greg and Nate. I think we all hope for a friendship like that. 


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