And A Child is Born - 13. Media Spotlight
I am happy to be back at Gayauthors. Whadda winter and spring!! I had a severe respiratory illness, then my best friend of 50 years had a heart attack while driving. He was discharged to my my house. He was an asymptomatic carrier for COVID. I had a medium-severe case. He was then told that the doctors discovered a mass in his right lung.
It feels good to be back with Yonatan and Matan.
Somehow, Yonatan and Matan had escaped the media spotlight until the night of the exhibit. It was odd that what broke their cover in Virginia was an event in Europe. They were suddenly nouveau celebrities in Europe where the gutter press was always looking for the newest and flashiest people to sell their trash rags. The reporters didn’t know anything about this wealthy young gay couple and made up stories when there was a lack of facts. The stories they wrote about Yonatan and Matan were laudatory and presented them as the newest celebrities in Europe. People wanted to know about this young couple who had boundless wealth. That storyline continued unabated until it was discovered they were Jewish, then the articles had almost snide undercurrent about their newfound money. Suddenly, they were presented as having an agenda of trying to sway influence for the Zionist movement among the royalty of Europe through their largess and prominence. Little did people know that they saw themselves as just two college students trying to get through to graduation. Even Yonatan’s mother contacted him when she read an article in a trashy rag that she bought in the check-out line at the grocery store in Emporia. Yonatan had to assure her that the stories were filled with other people’s imagination and innuendo but not facts.
Jan, Nash, Matan, and Yonatan were accompanied by security when they went to classes because of the sudden interest by reporters and photographers. They didn’t mean to pull Jan and Nash into an orbit of being the hunted, but their pictures holding the children had appeared in the press. Jan and Nash were identified as a friend and a nanny. Black asked to meet with Yonatan one day when they got home from school. There were television news trucks in front of the house when the guys arrived home late that afternoon. Black told Yonatan they would drive the backroads of Suffolk to talk. After eating a quick supper, Black and Yonatan left in the Yukon heading south on Route 17 when he suddenly made a turn and pulled onto the interstate. Black floored the gas pedal and then made an evasive move that cut off a car and had them barreling down an exit ramp. Yonatan looked out the back window when he heard horns blowing and tires squealing. Black suddenly turned the vehicle, and they were back on the interstate going in the opposite direction. Black had a satisfied look on his face.
“Damn, I didn’t know I would use all of that training again.”
He drove, and Yonatan sat in silence. Finally, Black pulled off the interstate, and they were heading to Carrollton. They entered the historic town of Smithfield, where Black drove through a McDonald’s where he ordered two large black coffees. He steered the big Yukon onto Route 258 West heading to Ivor. They sipped their coffees, and Yonatan waited for Black to start talking. They reached Ivor, and then Black turned the vehicle toward Emporia.
Yonatan kept silent. Black pulled into the parking lot of the apartment complex where Yonatan’s mother lived.
“Why are we here? Is she okay?”
“I will let her tell you.”
“Tell me what?”
“What she needs to tell you.”
Fuck. What was going on?
They got out of the Tahoe and walked up the sidewalk to the front door of the apartment. Yonatan’s mother had wanted to stay in the area, and he had found this apartment for her. It was the best that was available in Emporia, but it seemed small to Yonatan. She was thrilled because it was much newer than the farmhouse where they had lived. Yonatan knocked on the door. His mother answered it and then hugged him with tears in her eyes. Black said he would wait outside.
“I made a mince pie today. I know it is one of your favorites.”
They went into the dining area and sat at the table.
“What is going on? Black said you would tell me.”
“Jimbo, I wasn’t thinking and have done something bad. I now know I shouldn’t have done it, but they offered me a great deal of money.”
Yonatan’s stomach sank, knowing it would not be good. He didn’t want any of the pie but let the dessert plate stay where it was.
“No matter what it was, mother. I am sure it can be corrected. What did you do?”
She looked like a beaten animal. The tears were running down her face.
“Well, Sheila was the nicest person you could imagine. Just the kind of girl you should be married to instead of a man. Anyway, she wanted to talk, and I said yes, thinking that I could tell the truth after reading those awful lies in the paper. People would like you if they knew the real you.”
Yonatan’s stomach was in knots, and he was about to throw up.
“Okay, what did you tell this Sheila person?”
“Well, I told her what a wonderful son you were growing up. I then made a mistake. I told her about the night you came back after meeting with that lawyer in Norfolk and how daddy was upset, and then how the Israeli military appeared and those Jews took you away. I told her you had always been the best son and were even a Boy Scout and had won all sorts of honors. Then you changed when you got connected with those people.”
Yonatan definitely wanted to vomit at that point.
“Sheila asked if I had any pictures of you growing up. I pulled out some photo albums and showed her the pictures of you. She said they would be perfect for the article she was writing about what a wonderful boy you were. She said it would help if people could see the pictures of you.”
Yonatan knew not to say anything and let his mother continue.
“She said they would pay me $250,000 for the pictures. I am living off the income from leasing the farm, but this money will ensure that I would never be hungry. She had a check ready already made out to me.”
“What pictures, mother?”
She pulled out the photo albums, and Yonatan knew precisely what she had sold from looking at the blank spaces. He now knew his value - $250K. That was his worth as a human.
“Thank you for telling me, mother. I need to leave. Now. I need to leave now.”
Yonatan stood and felt light-headed. He didn’t bother to hug her or to tell her goodbye. He opened the front door and walked to the Yukon.
Black drove up Interstate 95 toward Richmond. He continued to drive north, and finally, Yonatan asked where they were going.
“We are relocating you and your family so you will be safe.”
Yonatan felt the tears in his eyes and choked back a sob.
“We will never be safe, Black. I have let down Matan and the children. They are not safe because of me. I should never have agreed to the fucking museum exhibit.”
“Nonsense. You are one of the bravest people I know. You were supporting Matan and his passion for art. You are okay, Yonatan. You will be okay.”
Black turned the Yukon from the interstate, and they were on secondary roads. They pulled through the brick columns of Cameron Farm. When they stopped in front of the house, Matan ran from the front door, across the porch, down the steps, and then opened the door of the Yukon and hugged Yonatan.
“Thank God you are here. Are you okay?”
Yonatan nodded his head.
“Come inside. I have a drink waiting for you.”
Yonatan had only been at the farm once before, and that was for the engagement party. He didn’t remember going in the house that night. What he saw when he entered the home was beautiful. Erick, Eron, Tayloe, Nash, and Jan were sitting in a rather opulent parlor. The room was filled with furniture that looked like it should have been in a museum. Tayloe stood and greeted Yonatan with a handshake and then a hug.
He pointed to a wing chair beside the fireplace. A warming fire was crackling. Matan handed his lover a glass of scotch. When Yonatan looked at his friends, he saw fear and trepidation in their eyes. But he also saw love and caring. Matan started talking.
“We have been moved here until we leave for Brussels. It is just a few days before we depart. You have two more exams, and I have three. I have spoken to Gino, and he is arranging with our professors for us to take our exams here. Jan will travel to Williamsburg for her one exam, lucky her. Nash will stay with Erick in the apartment in town until Todd flies in, and then they will all be here.”
Yonatan could only nod his head.
“This is the Senator’s home. Where are he and Mrs. Fairfax? How is it that we are here?”
“Long story, Yonatan, but the short version is that the property is now owned by a trust that is in Todd’s and my names. Mrs. Fairfax has asked for lifetime rights to visit and stay here. Todd is also the heir to the Fairfax fortune from Senator and Mrs. Fairfax. We owe it all to Todd and his generosity of spirit when he found out that Arden had died. So, you are our guests for as long as you need to stay here.”
“How did all of this get arranged?”
Black stepped forward and said the blame was his.
“I knew we wouldn’t be able to keep you safe much longer at the house in Suffolk. I was already working on an alternate plan when we received word of a specific threat against Ossie and Juju. I decided to take extraordinary and quick action. I apologize, but I know that you have enough on your plate and didn’t want to add one more thing. I notified everyone and put the plan in place when I found out what your mother had done. You can take it out of my pay.” Black grinned.
“What do you mean a specific threat against the children?”
Matan walked over and sat in Yonatan’s lap. He took the glass of scotch and set it on a coaster that was on a Chippendale table. They both looked at Black.
Pink stepped into the room, approached them, knelt, and took their hands.
“The children are safe. Trust us. Details are not important at this moment other than that our surveillance system is working as it is supposed to so that you and the children are safe. We can give you the details later, but we are still in the midst of the threat.”
“What threats against our children?”
Pink looked down at the floor and then looked Yonatan directly in the eyes.
“Yonatan, people were going to kidnap the children and then take them out if you did not pay a significant ransom. Even after paying the ransom, they probably would not have returned to you. We have foiled that attempt.”
She didn’t say kill, rather the euphemism, “take them out.” It sounded so military. Matan had buried his head in Yonatan’s shoulder, and they wrapped their arms around each other. Yonatan knew that he had to be strong for Matan and the children.
“Are we safe here?”
Green stepped into the room and said everyone was safe.
“It will take their intel a few days to discover where you are, but by that time, you will be on a plane for Europe.”
“They will know about the flight. Are we even safe flying?”
“They think they know. But, Yonatan, I am the only one who knows when and how you will get to Europe. Not even Black knows, and it is driving him crazy.”
“What about Matan’s parents? Are they safe?”
“We already had security protecting them. It has been in place since the articles about the art exhibit hit the papers in Europe.”
“It is my fault. I wanted to show off with that damn exhibit. I exposed us to the world. My hubris has caused all of these problems.”
Yonatan grabbed Matan and told him nothing was his fault. Matan kissed Yonatan and said they were all safe, and that was what mattered.
Black said it was time for everyone to go to bed because it had been a long day, and the next few days would be challenging.
Matan led everyone up the stairs, and the two men entered a large bedroom. Erick told them it was their room as long as they were there. Yonatan saw several suitcases and knapsacks overflowing with school books. He then told Matan about the conversation with his mother. Matan listened as Yonatan told of her betrayal.
“Call Mr. Cohen right now. Those images are yours, not hers. He should sue to stop publication.”
Yonatan hadn’t thought of that. He called Mr. Cohen, who said he would immediately phone associates to prepare paperwork to present to the judge as soon as the courts opened for the day. Mr. Cohen would try to get a court injunction to forestall the publication of the pictures. He told Yonatan he would give it his best shot, but the courts were reticent to get involved, especially since there had been a financial transaction for the photos. He asked if they were Yonatan’s personal photo albums or whether they were his mother’s. Yonatan told him they were his mother’s brag books that she would show people. Mr. Cohen said he would give it his best shot, but they should be prepared for an adverse outcome. He then said it was time the guys hired a publicist. Yonatan thought that was a stupid idea, but what did he know. He thought of himself as just a college student and nothing more. He realized that his view of their life was skewed, and this event was making him rethink how they would move forward.
Yonatan and Matan tossed and turned all night and, by daybreak, were awake and in the kitchen looking for coffee. James, one of the men who worked at the house, poured them cups of coffee as they sat at a table in a nook. Yonatan saw movement outside and asked Black why the yard was filling with military trucks and soldiers.
“Ahh, the farm is being used as a training facility for the next two to three weeks. The soldiers have come over from Dahlgren and will practice protecting embassy personnel, ambassadors, and their families when they are under attack. No one will get through the perimeter that extends some ten miles out from this property. You can thank the Senator and his contacts.”
Yonatan now understood the importance of contacts. Mr. Cohen had sent a list of people who had attended the opening night of the exhibit in Brussels, and Yonatan decided to start learning the names of the people that day. He also thought it wise to write a personal thank you note to the Ambassador for his kindness. He then realized that he and Matan had many personal notes they needed to write. A standard printed notecard was more manageable for many people, but Yonatan decided he would ask Mr. Cohen which people needed a personal note.
Matan was excited at the prospect of writing the notes. They were talking about ordering note cards when Tayloe walked into the kitchen. He asked if they were okay with sending cards bearing the logo of Cameron Farm. The Senator was fond of sending personal notes, and there was a large stash of cards and envelopes on hand. They were beautifully embossed with an image of the house and Cameron Farms printed in dark blue ink on a buff velum card.
Matan and Yonatan agreed to the message to use on the notes, and the two of them started writing. Jan came in and said she would love to write cards. She said she admired how the royals would use secretaries who wrote on behalf of their highnesses. She came up with the language and chuckled when they read that ‘Messrs. Matan and Yonatan Jenner-Ward were pleased to meet you etc. etc.’ It set the perfect tone. When they finished, Green came in and said the cards would be boxed and sent to Paris, where the law firm would affix postage and mail them. He said they would arrive much sooner, and the postage would be much cheaper than if mailed from the United States.
Gino called that afternoon and said he would be arriving the next morning with exams. The afternoon spent writing notes had kept them from worrying about the exams, and it had been fun as they wrote and laughed. Sometimes Matan would want to pen an additional note to the cards Yonatan had written. They had a fun time remembering the special night at the museum. Jan said her grandmother could not get over the fact that her progeny had met the Queen of Belgium.
“She would have been over the moon if Queen Elizabeth had been there, but I told her that perhaps we would meet her in the future. Even after explaining that we were in Belgium, she still couldn’t figure out why QEII wasn’t there. Anyone who comes to her apartment is treated to the news articles she clipped and informed that I work for you. She calls Ossie and Juju her great-grandchildren. She has knitted them scarves and gloves for Christmas. She wants to see the two of you again.”
“When we get back after winter break, we will have her for dinner. I have no idea where we will be living, but we will arrange for her to visit.”
Yonatan knew that Matan would make it happen.
Gino arrived early the following day and set up the exam room in the Senator’s library. Yonatan realized his professor was present, but his friend was nowhere to be seen. Gino was able to separate the two spheres of the relationship. Yonatan opened the first exam and started writing. He wrote for three hours and closed the blue book, looked up, and saw that Matan had left the room. Yonatan walked to the dining room, where lunch was being served. The staff that the Senator and Mrs. Fairfax had in place were still there. They ate and then went for a walk. Jan wrapped the children in warm blankets and put them in a stroller. The soldiers were very polite, and more than a couple of the men made eyes at Jan. She knew how to flirt. Matan laughed as the soldiers would want to see the babies and say they were beautiful and looked just like their mother. Jan would take the compliment and not tell them that she was not the mother. In fact, they looked nothing like her. Absolutely nothing.
After the walk, Gino told them it was time for the next round of exams. He had also brought the exam for Jan to take. They went to the library. Again, Yonatan started writing and ignored what else was happening. When Gino gave him the fifteen-minute notice, Yonatan looked up and saw that he was the only one in the room. The sun was low in the sky. He scanned what he had written and decided it was enough. Yonatan handed the papers to his professor, who put them in an envelope, sealed it, and noted the time.
Yonatan walked into the parlor, and Matan brought him a glass of scotch. He smiled as he tasted the smoke and peat as the scotch scorched his throat.
They were relaxing and nibbling on some peanuts when the telephone rang. Yonatan answered to hear Erick tripping over language as he was talking. He was in Charlottesville at the police station. Yonatan told him to slow down and asked Black to pick up the telephone line. Erick told them how there were people who followed him to class that morning, where he gave an exam. He thought they were students whom he had not met. They were in the cafeteria at lunchtime. Again, he thought it odd but marked it down as students who may have been enrolled in the night school program. He said they were college-age, and he didn’t think of it again until he was ready to leave campus. There they were again. He realized they were not students. He got in his car, and he observed them in the rear-view mirror; they were following him. He drove west on Interstate 64, trying to get as far away as possible from Cameron Farms, and then decided to drive to the police station in Charlottesville. He explained to the police that he was being followed but didn’t want them to know details. He said it was vital that he make a call.
Black said for him to stay there and not leave. Black asked to speak to whoever was in charge at that time. The Lieutenant came on the line and asked who Black was and what this was about. Black gave his name and said that a military escort would be there shortly and to keep Erick safe until then. The Lieutenant asked more questions, and again, Black told him to keep Erick safe until a military escort arrived and not to release Erick until the police had confirmed everyone’s identity. Yonatan told Erick that they loved him and then hung up the telephone. Black was already out of the door and talking to a military commander.
“Where are Eron and Tayloe?”
Yonatan noticed they weren’t present and thought perhaps they were taking a nap.
“They went to the Richmond airport to pick up Todd.”
Yonatan’s blood ran cold. He yelled for Green and Black, and then Green walked through the doorway. Yonatan briefly explained the situation with Erick, and said that Eron and Tayloe were picking up Todd from the Richmond airport. Green was already moving before the conversation was finished. Yonatan looked out of the heavily draped window and saw Green talking with the military commander. Then soldiers were moving quickly as they tore out of the drive in their vehicles. These were not those slow 25 mph convoys one might encounter on the highway. These were military personnel on a mission.
It was an unsettling time. Four of their closest friends were in danger, and there was nothing Matan and Yonatan could do. Black and Green stayed outside with the military commander. Stephen and James came into the parlor and asked if they should delay dinner. Yonatan suggested that was a good idea and asked them what time they left for the day. They laughed and said they had an apartment over the garage and were available all of the time.
“Sir, we want you to know that we are saying prayers for your friends. Stephen and I are partners and admire you very much.”
“You’re partners, and you worked for the Senator?”
“Well, he didn’t know.” They looked at each other and chuckled. “We met when we were both hired and realized that we were made for each other. We are looking for a job placement so that we can both stay together. The closest we have found is in hotels, but we prefer working for a family. We admit we have been spoiled. Now that the young gentlemen own the farm, they don’t need our services.”
Yonatan thanked them and told them someone would keep them apprised of when everyone would want dinner.
They bowed and disappeared.
Yonatan turned to grab some more peanuts when a thought hit him.
“Where was Nash?”
You probably have a crazy and hectic schedule and find it hard to keep up with everything going on. We get it, because we feel it too. Signing up here is a great way to keep in touch and find something relaxing to read when you get a few moments to spare.
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