I loved how easily we were accepted in Makarovia.In many ways I felt these people knew more about human nature than anyone.I looked at Olek at breakfast and thought what a shame he had to resort to that one male thing…jerking off wasn’t a bad thing, but…Peter didn’t do it anymore and neither did I.We had each other now.Olek needed someone.I was determining Peter and I would help as much as possible to free up Olek’s time so he could…I don’t know…look?Olek was gorgeous!Don’t get me wrong, Peter had him beaten in my opinion, but Olek was…well, he was hot.
Then I hated having to figure out time differences, but it wasn’t too hard.I called my Grandmother when I knew she’d be home.She was a busy lady.No grass growing under her feet.
“Hello?”She asked curious, obviously seeing the caller ID which told her it was “out of area?”It all depended on the system she used.
“Hi, Grandma!”I greeted happily.“You know where I am!”
“I wondered who was calling.”Grandma said.“And I know where you are.You’re becoming quite famous here.”
“Yes, don’t I know it, but how would you feel about a trip here?”I asked.“There’s this ceremony I do where I basically become engaged to the entire country of Makarovia.”
“You what!?”Grandma asked, but it was fascination I heard in her voice.I explained what the ceremony was.
“…and at the end.Peter proposes to me.Then the,” and I did air quotes she couldn’t see, “official announcement goes out.I’d love for you to be there.”
I heard the pause and I knew what she was doing, going for her checkbook.“I don’t know…”There would be two trips if she came here.One now and the other for the wedding.
“We’re paying for you to come.”I quickly added.“Grandma, you’re my only living relative.If you can’t be there-“
“No!”She said quickly.“Of course, I want to be there.When is this ceremony?”
“It will be that Friday evening next week is the dinner, Saturday is the proposal.”I said.“I’d love for you to see Makarovia and meet King Olek and Queen Alla.”
Then I heard a sniff and I could hear the tissue pulled from the tissue box.
“Grandma?Is everything alright?”I asked.
“Yes, baby.Everything is just fine.”She said sniffing.“Forgive an old lady for having tears of joy.I am so happy for you, Eric.I was worried when you brought Peter here, but…I think it’s wonderful!”
“I do, too.”I smiled.“Can we arrange to have you come a few days early?”
“Sure.”She said.“Just tell me what time the flight is.I’ll be there.”
After hanging up, I saw Peter grinning at me from across the room.“I take it, she’s coming.”Peter said simply.
“She is!”I got up and walked toward him, leaning close.“She’s very happy with the marriage.So, am I.”I said inching closer to his face.“I love you, Peter.”
He closed the distance as he pulled me in for a kiss.A deep, probing and consuming kiss.“I know.”
Queen Alla had gone over all of the ceremony and what to expect.I contacted the BBC.Having no knowledge of how to call him, I called the main switchboard.I had the image of Andrew Humphries up.He was…not a bad looking man.In his forties, but looked a little younger with dirty blonde hair and a face that was appealing that also said he enjoyed life outdoors from some lines in the corners of his eyes caused from a lot of sun.Blonde?The poor man.I was reading more about his…interactions with others.Not all of his confrontations had anything to do the LGBT community, but he was a sort of…in your face type of reporter.He and his husband had been married for…as long as it had been legal.The picture of him with another dark haired man, who was a little taller, but also shared his husband’s love of the outdoors.Happy, open faces on the both of them.
I should have gone through the palace, but I wanted to get him myself.I wanted him to know who was inviting him.I called the main number I saw for him on the website for him.The woman that answered was definitely British from her accent.“I’d like to speak with Andrew Humphries, please.”
“Mr. Humphries may not even be in the country, can I pass a message?”The woman said with minor patience as I heard some activity in the background as others were doing…things. They were busy.I got that message.
“This is Eric Richards.I’m calling from Stryia, Makarovia…”
“No.”The woman said a little snide, her voice now stronger as she must have turned around in her chair.“We don’t have time for jokes.”
Okay, maybe I hadn’t gone through the proper channels.I was new to this royal thing.I was certain there were channels, but…“What does your caller ID say?”I asked.Honestly, I didn’t know.I assumed since this was the BBC, they had a nice one.It should say something…Makarovia?Stryia?A number with the first numbers for Makarovia’s international call?
Apparently, so many calls came through, the caller ID wasn’t often checked visually.“Oh, my god.”It seemed it did show something…Makarovian.“Hold on!”She said quickly and I heard that annoying music you often hear now when on hold.It was more than a few minutes before she came back.“Are you still there?”
“You told me to hold.”I said.
“I am so sorry for putting you on hold like that,” she said in a hurry, “but…I had to locate him.I’m transferring you to him now.”Again the music and then the ringing sounded.
“Hello?”A male voice asked and his voice was also not saying he was convinced no matter what that woman told him about the call.
“Andrew Humphries?This is Eric Richards calling from Stryia, Makarovia.”I said.
“You’re shitting me.”He said in disbelief.
I chuckled.“Well, I don’t really shit anyone, if I can help it.I am Eric Richards.”I thought a moment.“I can have someone from the palace call instead, but I wanted to speak with you.I’m new to this whole thing and I didn’t know the proper channels I needed to go through.Not yet.I didn’t really ask.Should I do that?”
“No!”He said quickly.“I can understand that.”The voice said.“Why do you need to speak with me?”
“That’s a joke, right?”I asked.“I saw footage of the confrontation with that…whatever he was when he was objecting to the approval of same-sex marriage in England.I heard the uncensored recording you gave him. Nice language, by the way. I also know about your stance with all things LGBT and also, your zeal for the truth.”
“I understand the BBC is coming on Thursday of next week to Stryia.I was calling to see if you would want to be invited as well.Specifically, you, Mr. Humphries.”
“I don’t believe this.”He muttered someone or no one off the phone.
“You don’t believe me?”I asked, not sure about what he said.“I am who I say I am.”
“No, no, no!”He said quickly.“Not you…I tried for months to get someone there to call me back!You know how important this is!”
“Yes, I do.”I admitted.“That’s why I wanted you.This is the first marriage for people of the same gender who are legally getting married and Peter being a prince and in line for a throne…not just marrying a guy, but a commoner and an American with no family ties to any throne anywhere, I got that.”
“You know I need this verified.”He said.
“I know.I assume you’re on location somewhere?”
“Do you have a phone with Internet access?”I asked.
“I do.”He said.
“Then to assure yourself I am who I say, look up the contact number for Makarovia…the palace…”
“No need.”He said instantly.“I have it.I’ve been calling for a while.”
“Okay, call the number you have and ask for me.”I said.
“I’m calling as soon as I hang up.”
“Give me a chance to get downstairs to tell them, but…okay.”I chuckled.“Thanks, Mr. Humphries.”
“Call me Drew, please.”
“I’m Eric.”I said.
“Can I call in fifteen minutes?”Drew asked.
I chuckled.“First, I need to find the Administration Offices, but that should be fine.”I looked over at Peter who grinning at me as he was studying a map of Stryia.“Where is the Administration’s Office?”
Peter grinned and got up.“I’ll show you.”He said smiling holding his hand out to me.
This was another part of the kingdom I had never thought of.Offices!I knew there had to be one…somewhere, but on the same level with the palace, there was this…room.Here was the usual noises one would expect from an office with the computer and office equipment.It wasn’t that large and I could see there were maybe two or three that was usually there…normally.Now, there were five!This was a busy time now.I heard more ringing of a phone from another room.Men and women…two that were more mature and three that were young.I guess they were starting their mandatory service years like the guard from the hall I’d seen.A young man from a desk was on the phone and looked up, his eyes widened as he rose instantly!Almost in military abruptness and ramrod straight!
“Your Highnesses!”He bowed.
I will tell you, I noticed he used the word Високості not Високість.The first was Highnesses, not Highness; plural as opposed to singular.I pointed to myself.“You were addressing me, too?”I asked him.
He was maybe eighteen!Looking and his dark hair, which I also noted he had only begun shaving every day recently as I saw a nick or two that were healing now.“Of course!You are both princes!”
“The word Величність?”I asked for majesty.
“For King Olek and Queen Alla.”The young man said logically.
I groaned.“All those times I demoted Olek.”I muttered to Peter who chuckled.
“He’s not sending you to the rack or anything, okay?Relax.”Peter grinned.
“Can I use my new Високість powers now?”I asked Peter and this young man.
“I suppose.”Peter looked uncertainly at me.
I looked at the young man.“When you see me…I’m Eric.Not Високість or Величність.”I said.“Do I need to tell everyone?”
Peter laughed lightly.“You probably will have to tell them a few times in the beginning.”He told me, but looked at the young man.“The same for me…I’m Peter.”
“Yes, Your High…I mean, yes, Peter.”The young man said nodding with a more relaxed smile.
I smiled at him.“The reason we’re here…there’s a man…Andrew Humphries going to call…”
A woman in her thirties at a computer raised her hand snapping her fingers.“He’s on the phone now.”She pointed to the phone as she listened to the caller.
I looked at my watch, but went to her.“May I?”I asked her holding my hand out for the phone.
“Of course.”She smiled, giving me the phone.
I heard he was still speaking as he had been for this woman.“It’s not even been ten minutes, Drew!”I said in mocking irritation cutting him off.
“I was anxious!”Drew said back quickly, but very happy.“I guess you are who you say you are.”
“Does that mean you’ll come to Makarovia?”I asked.
“Try to stop me!”He said and I heard the excitement in his voice.“Though, you might want to call my supervisor to tell her that you want me on the news team.”
“That,” I said, “I’ll let the Admin Office here handle.Use the number I called from first to reach me if you need to.”I got his supervisor’s name and number.“I look forward to meeting you, Drew.”
“I certainly look forward to meeting the two of you!”He said and I heard the smile in his voice.“I was thinking you’d call Anderson Cooper again or something.”
“I like him just fine.”I said.“But this is kind of different.He does news.You concentrate more time on our issues…and this is an issue; a good one, but an issue.Besides, you don’t take prisoners.”
I heard him laugh heartily.“I don’t.”He agreed.“Is this…I heard there was a…ceremony?”
“An official proposal by Peter to me.”I said.“I’ll be engaged to the whole country.”
“But you can be there to see it all and record it…whatever and bring our side into this.Me and Peter’s, not just about the gay part.”I said.“You can even ask me and Peter questions.We’ll answer what we can and bring Wayne.If needed, we’ll pay for it.”
My mentioning his husband he proudly displayed on the webpage caused him to stop.“I’d love to!”His voice was now less excited, but he was happy to hear I included his husband.“Wayne will be thrilled to come on one of my many trips.”
“You married him to keep him around.”I shrugged.“So, keep him with you.We look forward to meeting you both.”
“Is it formal?”
“Saturday, yes.The party on Friday night, just a little dressy.Well, they will be dressed up.”I said.“No tux or like that.Most here don’t have access to those.”
“Good.”Draw chuckled.“I won’t tell Wayne.Any excuse he can find to put me in one of those things…he goes for.”
“We’ll see you next week.”I handed the phone back to the woman.“Okay!Everyone has a name.What are they?”
The others in the office smiled and I was introduced to them all.I’d try to remember.
As we headed back into the palace, Peter was once again right there…with me and I loved how we were always connected.Arms around the other or just holding hands, we were connected.
“What is it about this Humphries guy?”Peter asked.“He’s just another reporter.”
I nodded, but I…not afraid he couldn’t understand, but had nothing to go back in history or know why he wouldn’t understand.“I know, but…he’s a special reporter.”I smiled.“The world out there…” I waved outside of the castle, “just won’t accept us.”I sighed.“It was 1973 before the American Psychiatric Association removed Homosexuality as an illness.It’s the one thing that makes Makarovia stand out.You don’t know the struggle we have faced.”
“We know about it…” Peter protested.
“As history.”I nodded I smiled.“A hundred years ago, they came to escape Nazis…but the reason we often say…” I did the air quotes with my one free hand, “out of the closet, is because we weren’t safe to let anyone know we are gay.I, we faced, persecution and even death is what the others knew.You know of it as a part of history happening elsewhere.”I looked at Peter.“Are your proud to be gay?”
Peter’s eyes widened and his head went back a little.“I suppose…”
I turned smiling with a nod.“There you go!The idea of being proud doesn’t mean what you think.Drew said…he wasn’t proud to be gay, but he wasn’t ashamed of being gay.He simply…is.”I shrugged.“He did nothing to make the claim, he just…is.The key difference is he didn’t hide what he is.That he’s proud of.People know he is?It doesn’t matter.”I pulled him into a kiss.“In South Carolina we risk statements of hate and even threats of death if we did what we just did.At certain intersections there would be accidents.” I chuckled.“The fact is…I’m proud to be seen by people like General David Burke as a friend now because I am gay.That’s what Drew Humphries is about.Not about him, but everyone else.He will of course, be reporting our marriage because of the homosexual part, but he’ll be covering all of the unique qualities of that marriage.”
Peter nodded.“Our marriage because of the commoner part.”
“And an American!”
“Why is that so difficult to believe?”Peter asked.“All of us married commoners!”
“Ah, but an American!?”I shook my head.“Look what happened with Wallis Simpson! I told you, this is my fairy tale.”
Peter frowned.“Not the Cinderella thing again.”
“No, but we are telling the world that we are just people.”I said.“We’re getting married.Two people in love that are joining our lives.They need to get used to the idea.”