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    Mikiesboy
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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.

Changes, Again - 10. Getting to Know You

The Barley and Sow was busy but mellow. We found a place to sit. On the large projection TV, the Jays were playing the Yankees. Don had ordered fish and chips times three and a beer for himself. Max and I sipped iced tea. I’d have loved a beer, but I was driving, so it was best not to take the chance.

Max hadn’t stopped smiling. “This is like a real pub!”

“That’s because it is a real pub.” Donny grinned at the boy. “I’m so glad you like fish and chips; I’ve had a craving for a few days now.”

“I like most things. There’s not too much I don’t eat.” Max continued to read the menu. “My parents insisted I try things before saying I don’t like them. I’m sort of glad they did, because I’m not fussy about food. Though, I don’t like liver.”

“What?” I sat back and glanced at Don, who was grinning.

“Oh, man, Lous, now you can’t make that special liver, bacon, potato and egg casserole I am so fond of for breakfast!”

“I’d planned that for tomorrow morning. And I bought a pound of kidneys to add as a treat!” I did my best to appear sad.

Max’s gaze travelled from Don to me. “You two are pulling my leg!”

Don started to laugh and I grinned. “You’re right, Max. Neither of us like liver; well except in liverwurst on rye with a good mustard.”

Our harried waiter arrived with a basket of Scottish plain bread. Each slice was so tall it could be two slices of a regular sandwich loaf. As well, he put down a sharable bowl of mushy peas and pickled beets. Lastly, he graced our table with a bottle of good malt vinegar. No lemon slices with real fish and chips!

Don thanked him, and he replied, “No problem. Back in a few with your meals.”

As we waited, we chatted about the game for a few minutes. Then our waiter was back with three huge plates of fresh, hot, fish and chips.

 

 

All talk stopped while we ate, though some chatter slipped in once we’d devoured half our meals.

Don had convinced Max to try the mushy peas, as they are foreign to lots of people.

Max put down his fork and sipped his drink. “Wow. Man, these are so good. I like the beets, but I’ve never seen peas done like this. They are really good. I’m gonna be so stuffed, I’ll never eat for a week.”

I laughed. “You’ll be hungry tomorrow. We are having a little BBQ. Are you okay with that, Max?”

“Will there be lots of people?”

Don waved a golden fry as he spoke, “No. Just Mr. Walker … Robert … and my mother. They come as a set, since they’re engaged.”

“Oh, okay. Sure, that sounds nice.” Max cut into a thick piece of cod. “I’m not ready for a big party.”

I glanced at Don. “No, we’ll introduce you to our friends slowly. That’s likely the best way.”

Don polished off his beer. “Max, I was thinking once we finish here and get you settled into your room, maybe you’d like to try getting onto Badger? Louis will give you a lesson in the paddock. Then we can go out for a little trail ride, at some point.”

Max’s eyes were wide. “Really? Can we?”

“You just need to learn a few of the basics. Badger is a very nice horse.”

“I’m really excited.” Suddenly though, Max’s mood changed. “Did the doctor say I could do this?”

I knew at that moment he was thinking of Kyle. I reached across the table to squeeze his forearm. “Yes, Max, he did. We need to supervise and assist you, but they said you could ride. No galloping or jumping yet, but you can certainly walk Badger.”

We finished eating in silence mostly.

Max’s silence was worrisome. I glanced at Don, and he seemed to understand what I was thinking. We paid our bill and loaded ourselves into the van and went home.

 

 

Once inside I took Max upstairs. He unpacked his little case and rolled into the bathroom to put away his toothbrush and paste.

I sat quietly on the end of the bed as he perused the books I’d left for him. He picked out one and opened it to the pictures.

“Your dad was a good photographer, Louis.”

I smiled at that. “Yes, he was. He was a good father too. I miss him a lot.”

The boy glanced at me. “Yes.”

Then Max spied the pictures I’d hung. He rolled closer to the grouping. There were several minutes of silence as he gazed at them.

“Louis.” He twisted around to catch my eyes. “These are your dad’s photographs too?”

“Yes. He mounted and framed them. They were his wedding present to us.”

“And you hung them here … for me?”

“Yeah, we hoped you’d enjoy them as much as we do.”

“I will. Thank you.” His smile widened. “I really love them.”

“I’m glad.” I patted my thighs. “Now, you up for a quick horseback riding lesson?”

His enthusiasm had returned. “Yes, please!”

“I recommend using the toilet first.”

Max nodded. “Yeah, I guess that’s a good idea. I can manage.”

I drew in a breath. This was not going to be fun. “You can’t alone, Max.”

“Why? I know how to move myself, Louis.”

“Part of the rules.” I cocked my head a little. “They said you were aware of them.”

Max sighed. “Oh … I am, but ….”

“I understand. Listen, I did this for Don at the start. I get it, even though we were married, some things are private.”

“They are. It’s embarrassing.”

“I know that and I’ll do with you what I did with Don. One, use the personal odour drops, and two, my only job is to steady you. You wipe, you flush, I come in, help you up. You put away your junk and zip up. We move you to the chair.”

“Okay ….”

“We don’t talk in there, unless something is wrong. Sound okay?”

“Yes, Louis. Thanks.”

I gave him a small smile. “I know this is hard. But I also know that you won’t need me after a while. Once you’ve healed up more, this is just a precaution.”

“Right. Okay, so I do need to use the bathroom.”

“Let’s do it then.”

So, we fumbled through our first trip to the toilet. We’d get better in time.

 

 

Afterwards, we went out to the barn. Don had the horses in the paddock. I ducked through the fence and closed the gate to the pasture. I led Clyde inside and put him into his box. After I fed him and closed the lower door, he stuck his head over the top and snorted at me.

“Yes, sorry. You need to know you’re a pain, Clyde. You’d be in the way. Now eat. Badger will be in soon.” I rubbed his broad head. He stood for that for a minute before turning away.

Chuckling, I left him to a few oats and his hay. I picked up Badger’s saddle and bridle on my way back to where Don and Max were waiting.

While I saddled Badger, I could hear the pair of them talking.

“Max, after my accident I was afraid at first to do things, you know? Afraid, that I’d hurt myself more than I was.”

“That’s how I feel. I’m scared all the time.”

Don was nodding. “Yeah, I get that. But you know what? They wouldn’t let you out of the hospital if they didn’t think you’d be okay.” He reached out and put his left hand on Max’s shoulder. “The other thing is, we aren’t going to let you do anything too crazy. Riding can actually help you strengthen muscles. I wish I’d have started it much sooner than I did.”

“I’m looking forward to this, Don. Mostly!”

They laughed together. I smiled to myself as I buckled Badger’s bridle. He shook his big head. “Hey, you. Settle down. I keep saying you’re the better behaved!”

I led Badger to the mounting ramp. Don came over to hold the reins, while I pushed Max up the ramp. I went through the instructions with Max and then we tried them out.

It went okay, not perfect but Max seemed happy to be on Badger. I got down, and opened the gate as Don led the pair forward. As he turned them over to me, Don said to the horse, “Be good. That’s not me up there.”

Grinning, I took the reins and led the pair into the paddock. I corrected Max’s seat a bit, and changed the stirrups. Badger stood quietly as I fussed around him.

I glanced up a Max who had not stopped smiling. “Now, you don’t have a lot of leg control yet, so this guy knows voice commands. He knows, walk, whoa, back, and stand. He knows more, but we are starting to teach you these. Okay?”

Max nodded. “Yes, Louis.”

“Okay. Lesson one begins ….”

 

 

The sun was starting to go down when we called a halt to the first lesson.

“Okay, Max, tell Badger to stop.”

“Right, Louis.” Max drew back on the reins, and said, “Whoa.”

“Excellent. Now I want you to tell him to move forward, like I showed you, and stop close to the ramp. Stop him and use the correct word to tell him to stay still. Got that?” It was weird giving these drawn out instructions. I didn’t want to use the proper words we’d normally say to the horse.

“Yes, Louis.” Max clicked his tongue and said, “Walk, Badger.”

The pair moved forward and Max deftly used the reins to get the horse where he wanted him, then he said whoa.

Badger stopped.

“Stand, Badger.” Max leaned over the horse’s neck and patted him firmly.

I rubbed the horse’s neck and repeated the command. Then I moved up the ramp to help Max off the horse and back into his wheelchair. I helped Max down the ramp and Don came to meet us.

“You two did great! Max, that was terrific. Did you enjoy it?”

“Yes, Don. Wow, that was so much fun. You were right; you feel so free!”

I was tired and still had Badger to put away. “Why don’t you two go into the house and put the kettle on. Anyone want a cup of tea?”

Don nodded. “Okay, Lous. We’ll put out a bit of dessert. See you soon.”

“Thanks, babe.” I bent to kiss him and then ducked through the fence to collect Badger.

 

 

The pair had made tea and put together a few biscuits and other bite-size desserts, then took everything into the living room. They were watching T.V. when I finally made it inside. I’d stopped in the mud room to wash up a bit.

I collapsed onto the sofa. In front of me was a hot cup of tea. I reached for it and sipped. Pure nectar!

“Ah, man, that’s perfect.” I glanced at the pair of them. “Thanks a lot.”

Don was smiling at me.

 

 

We ate while watching a World War II documentary. Once that finished, it was about 8:00pm. Max seemed a little restless.

“You okay, Max?”

“Yes, thanks.” He smiled at us. “Um, do you guys mind if I go up to my room? I’d like to set up my laptop and stuff. May I use your internet?”

He’s a teenager! Of course, he wants to go to his room. I said, “Sure you can, to both! I’ll give you the wifi password.”

I got up to get something to write on.

“Um, Louis. Sorry, but could you show me the shower and stuff?”

I found a business card and scrawled the password for him. “Yes, Max. You want to shower now? Get it done?”

He nodded. “Yes, please. I’m sorry.”

“No, no, it’s fine. It won’t be like this forever. Soon enough you’ll be on your own.” I touched Don’s shoulder. “Back in a bit.”

 

 

By ten, Don and I were ready to call it a night. We locked up, turned everything off and took the elevator up. We stopped to say good night to Max.

“Max you need the bathroom or anything before we go to bed?”

He gazed at me. “Oh, man, Louis ….”

Don grinned. “I’ll get the shower ready.” He moved off toward our bedroom.

“Max, there’s no need.”

“But, Louis, you must be tired.”

“I am, but let’s get you into the bathroom, and then into bed. The installers will be here Monday to put the trapeze in for you. Till then, you have to deal with me!”

 

 

Twenty minutes later, I was in the shower with my gloriously naked husband, but I just wanted to sleep. Once clean, we dried off. I hung our towels and swore that the bed was calling to me.

Don pulled himself up with the trapeze, and slid into bed. I crawled into the cool sheets beside him. He drew me close and we kissed, holding each other tightly.

“Mmm, baby, I love you.”

“I love you too, Don.”

He turned onto his back, and I nestled into his naked shoulder. I ran my hands over his muscular chest. I could feel my eyes closing.

“Baby, will Max text us if he has a problem during the night?”

“Yes. I turned off ‘do not disturb’.”

I could feel Don reaching for his phone. “Damn, that’s a good idea. I should have thought of it myself.” I heard a few beeps from his device as he made changes. “I know it’s new, but all of this feels right. I am sorry most of the work falls to you.”

I kissed his right pec. It was the first part of him my lips found. “It’s just for a short time. Like when you first came home. He won’t need so much help soon. He put us both on speed dial.”

“Okay, baby. Let’s sleep.”

The last thing I remember were those words. I was out like a light.

 

 

I woke up slowly on Saturday feeling so lazy, and not wanting to get up for chores. There was stuff to do. The cake needed icing, food preparing, not to mention what Max might need me for.

Groaning, I turned over looking for my husband with my right hand. I opened my eyes as I found only my empty bed. I peered around; Don was up and gone.

With another sigh, I swung my legs over the side and sat up. I went to shower. Donny had been in here before me; I couldn’t believe I slept through it all.

Once out of the shower and dressed, I opened the bedroom door. The wonderful scent of freshly brewed coffee wafted up the stairs and I could hear voices from the kitchen. I decided to join them.

When I entered, both Don and Max greeted me. “Morning, Louis.”

“Morning, babe. Want a coffee?” Don asked. “Sit down.”

I smiled at them both and slipped into a chair at the table. “Yes, please.” I took the proffered mug and added cream. “Thanks. You two are up early.”

“Yeah.” Don handed me a plate of muffins. “I defrosted these; ain’t ya proud?”

I laughed at that. “Excellent use of frozen baked goods.” I smiled at Max, who was munching on a muffin. “Did you sleep okay?”

“Yes, thanks, Louis. I did.”

“Have you used the facilities? I should have been with you.”

“I was there, Lous. No worries,” said Don.

I opened my mouth, but he pursed his lips and quietly shook his head. I closed my mouth just as quickly. We’d discuss this later.

Don was saying, “We’ve turned the horses out for a couple of hours as well. There’s plenty of grass for them.” He rolled to his spot at the end of the table and reached for a muffin. “So, what needs doing today that we can help with?”

“Your mom is making the potato and macaroni salad. We are doing the greens, and prepping the burgers. Booze and soft drinks need chilling, and the chocolate cake needs icing this morning.”

Max, who had been eating and reading, looked up. “Chocolate cake?”

Don grinned. “Yes, Lous baked it yesterday. His famous chocolate cake, and he’ll ice it today. We deliver on our baked goods promises around here!”

He and Max laughed together, like they’d been doing it for years. It made me both happy and a bit envious.

“So, Max, any preference on the icing? I can do vanilla, orange, milk or dark chocolate, or mocha.”

“I can choose?”

“Yes, your choice.” I smiled at him and he returned it. It felt good. I realized in those few minutes that Max was going to make a difference in our lives. There was no reason for envy. Each of us would relate to each other in our own, important ways.

“Mocha sounds so good. Can we have that please, Louis?” He smiled a little before adding, “Could it be thick? They gave us cake sometimes in the hospital, but it was healthy, with thin icing.”

Don, my jovial, strong husband said, “Thin! Cake cannot have thin icing!”

I couldn’t contain my laughter. “Thick is the only way. If you want, Max, you can help me, and be the official icing taster. We only ice, with your approval.”

“Sure, Louis, I’ll help.”

“Excellent!” Don said. “I’ll load the booze and stuff in the fridge. You two work your cake magic. I then need a few hours to finish an article. That okay, Lous?”

“Perfect. Thanks.”

 

 

Once Don had finished and gone to his office, I did the dishes. Then Max and I made mocha icing. A lot of mocha icing. I showed Max how to slice the cake into layers and he did one layer himself, admirably.

He spread apricot glaze on one side of each layer. “Why do we do this, Louis?”

“It adds flavour and moisture, but most importantly, it seals the layer. So, when we spread the icing, it doesn’t pull the crumb up from the cake.”

He stared, like I’d just told him the secrets of the universe. “Wow, that’s cool. You know a lot about cooking and stuff.”

“Yeah, well, it’s something I enjoy, so I’m curious about the reasons for things.”

“Louis?” Max watched as I put the layers together.

“Mmm, yeah, Max?”

“You think it would be okay if I helped with cooking. I’d like to learn how.”

This was a surprise I hadn’t expected it. Max seemed so drawn to Don. “Sure, if you’d like, you can help me any time.”

“Thanks, Louis. Mom used to let me help. But you know what she’d always say?”

I stopped and turned to him. “No, what did she always say?”

“She said, you can help but that includes everything, my Maxy. Prep and cleanup!”

“Well, your mom was smart. You should learn it all.”

Max sniffed and wiped his eyes. I squeezed his shoulder and walked to pull a tissue from the box on the table. I gave it him.

“Thanks, Louis.” He dabbed away some tears, and sighed. “You think it gets easier, ever?”

“Yeah it does. Slowly.” I told him about looking for the pictures for his room, and thinking about my father. “I figure, we should just let ourselves have the memories and the tears. It’s okay.”

Max nodded and pulled himself together. “So, does the cake go in the fridge?”

“No, I only put it in the fridge once it’s been cut. I’ll put it in pantry cupboard in the mud room. It’s cool in there. The flavours will blend and we’ll have an excellent dessert.”

After that, Max went to his room to hang out. I was worried about that until I remembered being fifteen. You didn’t want to be with the parents all the time. So, I just let him do his own thing.

I had to look into getting Max into his old house to pick up things from his room. Maybe he’d like them here when he came officially to live with us.

I went into my office to continue putting that together. In a few hours I’d give Max his next riding lesson and then we could get ready for our guests and our BBQ.

 

 

Max seemed much more at home atop Badger this time. Though he only walked the horse, the pair were learning about each other. Clyde looked on and I went to feed him an apple in hopes that would lessen his jealousy.

I rubbed the wide head, and he pushed me with his nose. “Greedy.” I gave him half. “I don’t know why you’re jealous. Badger is working.”

He hunted around for the other half. “So, I know you can count to two. Here you go.”

I loved listening to them eat their treats. Such a wonderful noise. Once Clyde was bored and wandered to graze, I helped Max back into his chair. He watched me give Badger a quick groom and hoof check, before sending him back to his friend in the pasture.

Turning to Max, I said, “Right, shower for you. Our guests will here in a couple of hours.”

“Okay, Louis. Could I lie down for a bit after my shower? I feel a little tired.”

The hospital had told me to let him rest, so I wasn’t concerned. “You feeling okay otherwise? No pain, or anything?”

“No, just a bit tired. Sometimes after therapy I feel like that too.”

We were returning to the house. “Well, I get that. So yes, you nap. I’ll prep a few things after I shower as well.”

Once Max was done and resting. I cleaned up a little, then showered, myself. After that, I got the food ready for the grill. Then I texted Don.

You need anything?

Yes, can you come over?

Be right there.”

I entered the office. “Hey.”

“Hey yourself. Where’s Max?”

“He’s in bed for an hour, resting.”

“Perfect.” Don tugged me onto his lap and we spent the next twenty minutes kissing.

He kissed my neck, his hand on my thigh. He was driving me crazy. “Donny … Donny.”

“What, babe? Let’s do it on the sofa, come on.”

“No, Don, we can’t. We have guests and stuff to do; no time.”

“I only need five minutes … maybe ten.”

I laughed. “I get it. You can get some and I don’t.”

“Exactly.” He kissed me loudly. “But baby, I’d take care of you later.”

“I was right; incorrigible.”

He just pulled me close and hugged me. “Okay, okay, Lous. I’ll behave. But, I meant what said about later.”

I just relaxed against him. “Mmmm, okay, baby.”

Don gently pushed me to my feet. “Louis, I love you. Come on, let me shut down, and I’ll grab a shower. Then we can get things ready.”

 

 

Don was outside setting up the grill when Robert and Rena arrived. I could hear them chatting from the kitchen.

Max was slicing tomato for both burgers and salad, and I’d just finished making fourteen patties. That was likely too many, but cold burgers for lunch was a favourite around here.

Robert came into the kitchen. “Hey, you two! Hi, Max. They’ve got you working I see!”

He looked up from slicing, and laughed. “Yes, Mr. Walker … they are slave drivers. I’m not sure I’m gonna like it here!”

Robert laughed. “Yeah, I’m sure it’s been awful so far.” Then Robert said, “Max, will you join me in the other room for a minute?”

That pricked up my ears! “Is everything okay, Robert? Should I be—”

Robert held up his hands and spoke to Max, “You go on into the living room, okay?”

Max wiped his hands and put down the knife. He didn’t appear happy. “Okay, Mr. Walker.” After a glance at me, he rolled himself out of the kitchen.

I wasn’t happy. “What the hell, Robert?”

“Louis, it’s part of my job. If I didn’t know you, I’d be here doing the same thing.”

I sighed. “Okay, sure.”

“Five minutes and we’re done.” He stopped at the kitchen doorway. “We’ll be right back.”

Rena came in then with a cooler. “Hi, Louis.”

We hugged and she said, “He’s off to do his interview then?”

“Yeah, I guess. How are you?”

“Good. Here are the salads. I’ll put them in the fridge.” She busied herself with that. “How are things going? I’m so excited for you all.”

I’d been clearing up and wiping down the counters. I stopped. “Good. Really good. It’s great having Max here. I’m sorry for the reason, but it’s really nice.”

She smiled at me and reached up to touch my cheek. “I’m glad, Louis.”

“Okay. Business is done. Sorry for the interruption. Now back to our regular programming!” Robert said, as he followed Max back into the kitchen.

Max was grinning broadly.

“Max here tells me he helped with the cake we’re having. I’m pretty fussy when it comes to icing. So, we’ll see how good this Max-approved mocha is!”

Max gazed at me, and still grinning. I smiled back.

Robert was introducing Rena to Max. He reached out and shook her hand.

“It’s very nice to meet you, Max.”

At this moment Don rolled into the kitchen. “Grill is heating up. Are we having a beer or ….” He gazed around at each of us. “What is going on?”

Robert turned to Max. “Go on.”

Max was still smiling. “Mr. Walker and I had a talk. He asked me how things were going here. I said really great and told him all the stuff we’d done and all. So, he asked me if I thought I’d like to stay here with you both ….”

Don moved next to me and grabbed my hand; I squeezed back.

“And I said I’d really like to.” Max looked at us. “If you want me to stay.”

Don and I glanced at each other and then to Max. I nodded, and Don said, “Yes, we want you right here, with us.”

Rena was crying on Robert’s shoulder, and I wasn’t far off. I went and gave Max a quick hug. He reached up and hugged me tightly.

Don smiled and said, “Max, you are welcome here with Louis and me, and our families. We can’t replace who you’ve lost, but we can love you.”

There was silence as Max processed those words. He smiled broadly at Don and me. He nodded and said, “Thanks.”

 

 

We went on to have a great evening, full of talk and laughter. Max seemed to take to Rena as well. The mocha icing was, well, the icing on the cake!

 

 

Later, as we lay in bed together, in the afterglow of lovemaking and a wonderful day, Don whispered against my neck, “I love you. You made my life complete the day I met you. You, sitting there on that wall outside the pub. I hope you know that.”

“I sorta do.”

“You won’t be angry when I say that Max is just adding to that perfection?”

“Nope, not even a little.”

He pulled me tight, and I just closed my eyes as he whispered, “Thank you.”

~~~

To @AC Benus, @mollyhousemouse and @BHopper2 from the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything.

 

To the wonderful people who read this story, thank you, thank you, and once more, thank you!

Copyright © 2019 Mikiesboy; 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.

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It was interesting how the two men bonded with Max over different things, as would be expected with two very different people.  ;–)

 

Cooking is a very important skill to learn. Even though nothing I make is particularly spectacular, I won’t go hungry unlike those guys who barely know how to heat things up in a microwave! I wish I’d snagged some of my mother’s cookbooks when we were cleaning out their house when my parents moved into an assisted care facility…  ;–)

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