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    Mac Rountree
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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. 

And A Child is Born - 7. Summer Vacation

Yonatan thought it was the first time he and Matan had some extended downtime since they had become a couple the summer before. They flew out of Dulles Airport one night and landed in Brussels the next morning. The flight had been comfortable with no distractions, which allowed them to be completely attentive to each other. At the last minute before leaving for the airport, Yonatan remembered that he had to find a poem to give Matan once they were settled on the plane. Matan chuckled to himself when his Southampton County farm boy handed him a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke.

How shall I hold my soul

To not intrude upon yours? How shall I

Lift it beyond you to other things?

I would gladly lodge it

With lost objects in the dark

In some far still place

That does not tremble when you tremble.

 

But all that touches us, you and me,

Plays us together, like the bow of a violin

That from two strings draws forth one voice.

Oh, what instrument are we strung?

What musician is playing us?

Oh, sweet song.

 

Matan read the poem and smiled. He then started humming a melodious tune. The two men were completely in sync with each other. Matan then handed Yonatan part of the writings from Pavel Florensky on the subject of friendship.

Beyond the moment of eros in the Platonic sense of the word, philia is revealed in the soul – the highest point of earth and the bridge to heaven. Constantly revealing in the person of the loved one the glimmer of primordial beauty, philia erases, if only in a preliminary and conditional way, the bounds of selfhood’s separateness, which is aloneness. In a friend, in this other I of the loving one, one finds the source of hope for victory and the symbol of what is to come. And one is thus given preliminary consubstantiality and therefore preliminary knowledge of the Truth. The sacrament of love, Sacramentum Caritatis, is the highest motive for the life two by two; the word Caritas is probably put here for want of a more exact Latin term for the true love of friends. The mystical unity of two is a condition of knowledge and therefore of the appearance of the Spirit of Truth that gives this knowledge. One must be careful in choosing a friend. For one grows intertwined with a friend; one receives a friend, together with his qualities, into oneself. In order that both do not perish, what is needed is careful selection. The interests of friends merge. The property of one becomes the property of the other, and the good of one becomes the good of the other. St. Basil the Great, sees communion as the profoundest organic need of people: “Who does not know that man is a meek and sociable animal, not a solitary and savage one? Nothing, after all, is so proper to our nature as to have communion with other another, to need one another, and to love those of one’s own kind.”

 

It was a couple of paragraphs from a more extensive essay by the Russian priest about his love for Serge Troisky. Matan thought the writing was rather early Greek in form, but the underlying message was precisely what he wanted Yonatan to understand about them as a couple. He decided to explore more works by Florensky while they were in Europe, hoping that the museum could help him locate manuscripts. He chuckled and hoped they were in translation because he didn’t know Russian.

He looked at Yonatan and saw his partner was perplexed. He was using a finger to point out certain words as he read each sentence. He then would move on to the next sentence. Slowly a smile crossed his face as he understood the argument that was being espoused. He carefully folded the paper, slid it between his shirt and his skin over his heart. He turned and looked at Matan with adoration.

“I was expecting one of your Whitman poems, but you gave me something much deeper to devour. I want to read more of this man’s writings.”

Their dinner arrived, and instinctively they slowly fed each other. They would chew their food while also talking about the meaning of Florensky’s writing. They knew they had chosen wisely. Yonatan appreciated the style of the writing and hoped that one day he would have the time and ability to ponder such thoughts and then translate those thoughts to paper. After eating, they changed into their pajamas. Yonatan took the paper and reread it. He was trying to imprint the thoughts into his very being. When he awoke midway across the Atlantic, he realized he was still holding the paper in his left hand. His right hand was wrapped in Matan’s. He smiled in gratitude and drifted off to sleep again.

The two men felt like they were practiced in maneuvering through customs and knew the right answers to give. Matan’s fluent French helped tremendously. They were also starting to recognize faces at the customs desk. Matan greeted everyone as if they were long lost friends. Yonatan was so grateful for his partner’s outgoing personality and his ease with strangers. They were both extroverts, and they instinctively knew when each was to take the lead.

It was early morning when they reached the apartment and dropped their bags in the foyer. Matan grabbed Yonatan’s hand as they walked through each room. The apartment still felt new to them, and they would comment as they noticed things for the first time. Matan opened windows and said the apartment needed to air out. Black came into the salon and said to close the windows because of security. The two men stood nose to nose, with Matan saying he would not live in a hermetically sealed world and that he needed to smell the city. Black cautioned Matan about the risk of someone shooting them through the open window.

“They could shoot us through the glass. What is the difference?”

“We had the original glass replaced with bulletproof glass.”

Matan couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

“Are you saying that you removed the original old glass and replaced it with some modern manufactured glass? What a philistine you are!”

“Two points: first, I didn’t personally replace the glass as we had experts do that, and second, you didn’t notice the difference until I mentioned it.”

Matan stormed off in a huff. Black quietly lowered the windows and turned on the air conditioning. When Yonatan found Matan, he was lying naked on their bed. The bedroom windows were open, and the curtains were gently flapping in the breeze.

“If they are going to shoot us, let it be while you are making love to me. Get naked, come to bed, and make me forget the conversation I just had with Black.”

Yonatan grinned as he looked at the beautiful man splayed across the bed. The red hair on his head was the same as on his pubes. Matan’s need was clearly evident as he shifted his pelvis on the sheets. Yonatan could not get undressed quickly enough. He dove onto the bed, and both men laughed as they enveloped themselves in healing love. It was nearly noon before they finished their lovemaking and had just fallen asleep when there was a knock on their bedroom door.

“Do you guys want any lunch? I am going to order in.”

“Yonatan has just fed me, and we don’t need anything until tonight.”

They heard a chuckle from the other side of the door. After taking a quick shower, they redressed the bed with clean linens and then fell into a peaceful slumber. It was late afternoon when they heard a knock on the door.

“Gentlemen, what would you like for me to plan for your dinner.”

“Come in, Black.”

When Black opened the bedroom door, he saw the couple propped up on pillows. Neither was dressed, but Black was used to seeing them that way. He didn’t bat an eyelash.

A light rain was falling outside, and water was splashing on the windowsill. Black looked at the open windows, and it took all of his resolve not to walk over and close them. Matan smiled at Black’s dilemma.

“Okay, close the damn things. We can’t have the draperies getting wet.”

Black let out a satisfied sigh and quickly went to the windows. Yonatan finally spoke.

“We have a couple of weeks before we start our internships, so I thought we should start to learn the rhythms of life in Europe. I like the idea of late suppers in quaint outdoor cafes. Unfortunately, it is raining tonight.”

“I checked the weather report, and it should stop in an hour. Do you want me to make a reservation for you at a particular café?”

“No, I think we will wander around and find something we like.”

“Yonatan, that is not safe.”

“I could get angry right now about us being hemmed in, but we are on our free time, and I am not going to fight with you. We will spend the next two weeks, wandering and looking, without pre-determined schedules. We want to be free. Can you understand our needs? Can you make it work?”

“Let me figure it out. It will be extra work for my team, but we can make it happen.”

“Thank you. So, in an hour, we will be dressed and ready to walk around Brussels. We will find a café that looks inviting and eat there. After we finish dinner, we can either walk back to the apartment, or you can have a car available. Whichever you think works best. We are just two college guys who finished exams and are having our first summer in Europe. Let us enjoy it, please.”

Black understood their need. He also understood the dangers and the many threats made, which he rarely discussed with them. It was his job to know all of the risks and to mitigate them. That is what he was hired to do, and he would do it.

The guys were ready in an hour. They left the apartment building and walked around St. Catherine’s Terrace. There were many people out and about after the refreshing shower. Matan was entranced by a busker who was playing gypsy music. He started dancing and grabbed Yonatan’s hand. Soon, many people were dancing to the infectious tune. After they finished, Matan made a point of putting money in the music case on the ground in front of the handsome lad. Matan called out in French and told everyone to give the guy some money. They followed Matan’s lead and dropped coins and bills into the case. Matan then approached the lad and whispered in his ear. The young man beamed with pride, and then Matan kissed his cheek. Yonatan stood back and let Matan engage with the man. There was no jealousy. Yonatan had learned that this was Matan’s manner of interacting with people.

The next morning, the fellows sat in the dining room, eating breakfast, and developed an itinerary for the next two weeks. They would take turns naming places they wanted to visit. Matan’s list included mostly museums, whereas Yonatan wanted to visit battlefields and government buildings. After completing a list of places to visit that would take at least a month to see, they started paring it down to something manageable. They wanted to spend a week exploring Brussels and then travel west to Amsterdam and the Netherlands. Both were clear that they were exploring together; neither wanted to go separate ways. That might happen in the future, but not yet.

They put on shorts, shirts, and sneakers before heading outside. They were like Boy Scouts as they took out tourist maps and started to traverse the city. Black was always within sight but let them sally forth. When they stopped at a street food vendor for lunch, Black cringed at the perceived lack of sanitation standards and wondered whether his young charges would have food poisoning. Their digestive systems worked fine, and they were soon at an ice cream stand. Black couldn’t remember seeing them so carefree and happy. Their glee was infectious, and people around them smiled and talked with them. They waded through a fountain in a city square. They sat on the steps of a museum with Matan’s head on Yonatan’s shoulder. Late each afternoon, they would return to the apartment where they fell into a slumber before awakening in time for a late-night repast. They ate different foods, drank various wines, and Matan’s sweet tooth sought out unusual desserts for them to try. They were two young men in love.

One day they were standing in front of the Royal Palace of Belgium, along with a throng of tourists. Yonatan and Matan did not think of themselves as tourists since they had an apartment in the city. Yet they were. They talked about how grand the palace was and how much they would like to see the interiors.

“Well, we will probably never get inside. I just want to see the pictures.”

“Why do you say pictures and not paintings or artwork?”

“It’s a snobby European way of talking about one’s treasures. You say pictures and curtains, not paintings and draperies. In a way, it diminishes the importance of those things that makes them approachable. The curtains in the palace cost more than our house in Virginia.”

“Well, my mother is proud of the framed and numbered Thomas Kincaid picture in her living room. She shows it off to everyone as if it belongs in a museum.”

They both chuckled at the pretentiousness of it all.

“Let’s go back to our little flat and rest before we explore restaurants tonight. What nationality food would you like to eat?”

“Do you know what I really, really want? A Whopper! I want a Whopper, fries, and Coke.”

They both grinned and agreed that would be their dinner, and they knew where there was a Burger King.

“Here we are living in Europe and have access to incredible food, and we want to eat American fast food. We are so gauche.”

“Let’s finish it with one of those apple pies. That is the ultimate bad taste in fast food.”

They held hands, skipped down the palace steps, and headed back to their fabulous dwelling. The irony of it all was not lost on them.

At the end of the two weeks, the reality of being in Paris for the upcoming work week hit them. Black had been warning them for three days that they needed to start preparing, but they chose to ignore him. They went into overdrive, seeing even more sights, traveling by train to Amsterdam, making plans to travel to Oslo, and making love every day.

On Saturday, Matan was trying to pack suitcases for their time in Paris and anticipate what they would need to wear for work. There were clothes scattered around the room.

“How many suitcases can we take?”

“I don’t know. Why did we wait until the last minute?”

“I didn’t want this to end. Summer is just starting, and we are going to work on Monday.”

They made vows that they would stay out late at night eating in Paris bistros, walking along the Seine, visiting shops in the early evenings, and making love. They arrived at the Gard Lyon carrying loaded suitcases. Black chuckled and said they should have shipped things ahead of time.

They had decided to take Monsieur Lambert up on his offer for them to stay with him until the apartment above Matan’s parents was redecorated after the old gentleman who lived upstairs had died that winter. When Yonatan and Matan toured the apartment, they realized it had not been decorated since the 1930s. The man’s family didn’t want any of the belongings, so Yonatan had called a company that dealt with estates, and they had cleared out everything. The place needed a thorough cleaning before bringing in repairmen. The fellows then realized that more than just repairs were needed; the apartment needed updating. They asked Mr. Cohen to arrange for those things to be done since he had performed such an excellent job on the apartment in Brussels. They had encouraged Judy and Herbert to take the now vacant apartment since it was much larger than theirs but were told that it was too much trouble, and they were fine where they were. Judy also said that with children on the way, the boys would need more space.

The work was completed in record time, and Matan had already envisioned exactly what the space would look like since he had signed off on all of the decorator’s ideas. Judy gushed about how beautiful the apartment was. Beautiful yet practical and childproof. Matan had agreed to suites of Italian furniture for the public rooms. It was the perfect complement to the ornate woodwork in the house. The furniture had simpler lines but referenced the earlier French styles. Their bedroom furniture was very modern, which provided a stark contrast to the ornate space. Somehow it worked. Matan was explaining to Yonatan about the scale of the furniture when Yonatan’s eyes started rolling back in his head, and they both started laughing. Yonatan could not envision anything even when looking at the rendering that he asked to be prepared. He said he could envision what the space would be like (though he couldn’t), but it wasn’t until he was standing in the apartment that he fully appreciated Matan’s gift of color and design. Matan had searched for a decorator who saw the world the same as he did, and she pulled everything together.

“It is beautiful, Matan. I believed you when you told me, but I don’t understand all of that art stuff and proportions and lines, and whatever else you were saying. I love it. This space is perfect for us.”

Matan grinned and was pleased that Yonatan approved without him having to explain why it worked. Yonatan enjoyed kicking back and reading “The International Herald Tribune” on a Sunday evening before heading out for work on a Monday morning. He wanted a space that looked lived in – not a magazine apartment.

When they walked into the nursery, they both got misty-eyed, knowing that they were going to be parents pleased and scared them. They had planned to spend the workweeks in Paris and the weekends in Brussels. They had converted one of the bedrooms in Brussels into a nursery. The extra furniture was stored in the space with the extra artwork.

After Yonatan and Matan moved in, Judy and Herbert walked upstairs to the apartment late on a Sunday afternoon, bringing containers of food. Max Lambert and Lee Humbolt arrived soon after. Matan controlled the kitchen and knew where every plate, fork, pot, and pan was located. He had worked with the designer so that the kitchen was perfect for him. It was a casual evening with lots of laughing and stories from Yonatan and Matan about their time exploring Europe.

Every time Matan looked at Max and Lee, he would see them staring at each other. The two men were obviously in love. It had been serendipitous that they had met at Yonatan and Matan’s commitment ceremony. Since then, Lee had flown to Paris every break he had from school. He was going to be an intern in the law firm for the summer, also.

Yonatan was glad that he and Lee started at the law firm on the same day, as Lee was fluent in French. He helped Yonatan with all of the required paperwork. There was a noticeable difference in how the other employees interacted with each of them. Lee was treated respectfully but did not receive the deference shown to Yonatan. Yonatan noticed, and on several occasions, attempted to engage in such a way to put the two of them on equal footing. People would look confused and then revert to their prior behavior. Late one afternoon, Yonatan found himself alone with Monsieur Lambert and mentioned the disparity. Max shrugged his shoulders and said that France maintained a certain class system even in the workplace.

“Lee will not be offended, or he best not be. I will speak to him tonight.”

“No, Monsieur, I don’t wish to be treated that way.”

“Yonatan, this is the way things are. Only an American would object to being treated to their true station in life.”

Monsieur Lambert said that with a twinkle in his eyes. Yonatan knew it was hopeless to continue the conversation.

The guys found their internships were more intense than they anticipated. By Friday evenings, they were exhausted and did not want to travel to Brussels. The notion of late evening dinners at chic cafes and then endless lovemaking also went by the wayside. They would arrive home, eat dinner, have some conversation, and then fall into bed. Often their most intimate times would be in the morning before breakfast. Generally, it was Matan who would awaken and start playing with Yonatan’s nipples. From there, his hand would travel south. Suddenly, Yonatan would flip him in the bed and be on top. Matan naturally settled in to be ridden while looking into Yonatan’s eyes. They were both practiced in their rhythms and knew how to time their eruptions so they would then fall into a heap of sweaty bodies on the bed. After kissing and gently touching each other, they would shower and dress. Yonatan found himself making breakfast many mornings while Matan would be fussing with his hair. Some mornings they would encounter Herbert and Judy as they were leaving the building; other mornings, they were racing down the streets to the law office and museum.

They were still figuring out the pattern of their lives for the summer and decided they would go to Brussels every other weekend. They would work extra hours so they could leave at lunchtime on Friday. They would meet at the train station instead of going to the apartment. They had clothes in both places and didn’t want to take that extra time packing suitcases. Black would always accompany Yonatan to the train station while Matan had Green shadowing him. Either Pink or Yellow would be on the train waiting for them at their first-class compartment. Friday night dinners were always al fresco even if they had to sit under an umbrella. Saturdays were for out-of-town trips and Sunday morning was always for making love. They took a train to Paris on Sunday afternoons to arrive at the apartment just in time for dinner with Herbert and Judy.

They thought their life was perfect. They knew that the births of their children were imminent, with deliveries scheduled two weeks apart. They would fly to Tel Aviv to pick up the children and immediately return to Brussels, where Jan and Nash would stay with the children until it was time to return to school. Everything was on a schedule, and Yonatan was determined that nothing was going to interrupt them.

Thus, they were not prepared when the telephone rang.

Copyright © 2020 Mac Rountree; All Rights Reserved.
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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. 
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Chapter Comments

Premature babies arriving? (unexpected but good news), or... :glomp:

We're not lemmings (at least not me), so don't have us facing a cliff, :lmao:

 

  • Haha 1
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11 hours ago, IBEX said:

Cliffies are bad! 

 

11 hours ago, IBEX said:

Cliffies are bad! 

Cliffies Always existed and not mandatory,  those who decide to use' em are the bad ones...🤔

  • Like 2
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On 12/10/2020 at 7:32 PM, IBEX said:

Cliffies are bad! 

IBEX,

Sorry, it is unusual for me to write cliffes, and I took the low road and fell for the easy trick.

Mac

  • Like 1
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On 12/10/2020 at 7:46 PM, Tonyr said:

I guess it's good news.

Tony,

A mixed bag but with something really good coming.......

Mac

  • Like 1
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On 12/11/2020 at 8:06 AM, Tonyr said:

 

Cliffies Always existed and not mandatory,  those who decide to use' em are the bad ones...🤔

IBEX,

Bad Mac, bad Mac.  I will write that 100 times on the blackboard.  Hopefully, I will learn my lesson!  (Maybe, maybe not).  LOL.

Mac

  • Haha 1
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On 12/11/2020 at 9:32 AM, Dr. John NYC said:

Ahh... to be young (& not just in spirit) and in Europe for the summer. Maybe next life. Thank you, @Mac Rountree, for a break from Covid & winter! 

Dr. John,

Ahhh, the memories of being young and carefree.  

Beautiful day in North Carolina before a week of winter weather arrives.

Thanks for reading.

Mac

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