Catalina Cherries
by Joe Butterman


Chapter 10: The Gallery

Next morning at breakfast, I asked for a cup of coffee, and this request was denied as I suspected it would be; I then wondered when I might be permitted to have a cup of coffee and was told, as I suspected I would be, that I would have to grow up “some.” I considered the chronological mystery of growing up “some” in silence, buoyed by the knowledge that Mama would give me a cup of coffee if I really wanted one. When Bobbin joined us at the table, I decided, that it would be best to be forthright about things, or at least be first to broach the subject, so I announced, “Johnny’s been grounded.”

“Really, however does she do that, what with working all day,” Grand Belle wondered, more concerned with practicalities than with crime.

“Well. I don’t know for sure. But Gary said that she drops him off at her cousins while she’s at work. All I know is what Gary told me.” I thought it would be wise to put some distance between myself and the whole business, particularly since liquor was going to come into the picture soon. “Gary says that she locks him in the cellar at night, but I told him that they don’t have a cellar.”

“So what did he do?” Bobbin asked, more interested in crime (much the same thing, after all, as sin) than with practicalities.

“I don’t know for sure. He was at Gary’s when Roberto and I came home Friday. Gary says he went home, and then snuck out of the house and went downtown. Gary says he got beat-up in a fight. Gary says he thinks he drank some whiskey.” The devastating silence that ensued was as palpable at our table as the presence of Ruy Diaz de Bivar had been at Papa’s table Monday night. Seizing the moment, I asked if I could pick some avocadoes for Miss Jean and Roberto’s Mother.

“Certainly dear,” Grand Belle stepped right up to the plate, “make sure that they’re ripe and not too many.”

“Okay.” We had concluded this agreement without permitting Bobbin to be involved; he loved avocadoes and, if left to his own devices, would not be prone to any great generosity.

“Can I go by Johnny’s tonight after dinner and see how things are?”

“You may,” Grand Belle, too, wanted to know more of this drama.

“Yes,” rumbled Bobbin who had been off in the deep contemplation of sin, “and you can tell Master MacCrimmon that he is going to have a long talk with me later.” I was sorry for Johnny.

I went out to the garage and dragged the avocado picker out of and assembled it. This is a really neat tool. It consisted of several long wooden poles that could be screwed together to achieve the necessary height. At the business end, there were these shears that were activated by a long rope that ran the length of the assembled tool. There was a small canvas bag just under the shears, so that when you cut the fruit from the tree, it fell into the bag, and not clear to the ground bruising the fruit. You have to use this tool because avocadoes drop from the tree when they feel like it, not when they’re best to eat. As I was finishing this assembly, Bobbin emerged; immaculate as always, he paused on his way to the Packard to inspect the apparatus I’d assembled and asked if I would put some soap spray on the roses. I agreed and the picker passed inspection too.

I picked a lot of avocadoes; I filled a bowl from the kitchen to overflowing and then put it in the center of the table where it would be readily apparent; then I filled two paper bags with avocadoes and prepared to make my deliveries. I remembered the roses and took care of them before departing. Miss Jean was delighted with my delivery and told me to be sure to come see Gary on Thursday as he had some important news. I tried to pry the news out of her, but I knew that she enjoyed keeping secrets just as others enjoy disclosing them; so I pried just hard enough to give her pleasure, and then departed for Roberto’s.

Only Mama was at home and she, too, was enthusiastic about the avocadoes. I asked her if she would like some grapes too. She thought that would be very nice and I told her I’d bring them by tomorrow. She said if I came by around 2:00 (fourteen hundred) that Roberto should be home.

After dinner, I went down to Johnny’s and noted that his Mother was home. I knocked at the kitchen door and asked if I could see Johnny. She asked me in and gave me a Coke. She said that she was very sad and disappointed with Johnny. She had thought that she could trust him, but now she didn’t know and was really worried; she thought she might send him to live with his Dad, but she was really worried about the whiskey and she let on that Johnny’s Dad was “too fond by half” of his whiskey and that was a big problem. She surprised me because she didn’t think that the fight was such a big thing; boys “do that from time to time.” She thought about my request, then told me to come back Monday after dinner and I could talk to him. I told her that my Grandfather wanted to talk to him about the whiskey and she brightened at that.

The day was pretty much a bust. I’d done a lot of things to please my Grandparents, but I hadn’t seen my Cid. I was still worried about Johnny. And I hadn’t even gotten any interesting information for my Grand Belle.

Thursday morning, Gary was still not at home and Miss Jean said they’d not be home until Saturday. She was richly enjoying this mystery. Thursday afternoon, Grand Belle dragged me off to buy clothes. September was looming and she felt it necessary to replace the things that I’d outgrown during the summer. She made me try on half the store so that she could buy things just a touch on the large size. I used to hate this process, but I enjoyed it very much this time. If you have to wear clothes, you may as well look good. I missed Roberto again.

Friday, after breakfast, I asked permission to pick some grapes for Mama, this was happily given as we had more grapes than we could possibly use. As it was, I was the only one who ate a lot of fresh grapes. Mostly, my Grandparents ate them as jelly with toast at breakfast, or at teatime. I picked a lot of grapes and bicycled down to Roberto’s. Mama was pleased to receive them and I apologized for being late with them. I assured her that my Grandfather did not use DDT on anything, but that he did spray with soap and water.

“Mi Berto is talking on the phone. Go and see how nice he looks.” Enchanted, I went into the living room where Roberto was on the phone agreeing to something. He was wearing sharply creased shorts and a blue t-shirt; he smiled a broad hello and continued to talk. When he hung up he told me, “That was Miss Covington, she wants us to go look at the painting and then come over and see her. I told her we would if I could find you; you walked in and I told her we’d be there in a little while.”

“Great, but we’ll have to go to my house first so I can change.” I was wearing cut offs. Grand Belle had relaxed her proscription of them for regular wear because she knew that Roberto didn’t have any nice shorts. Now the proscription was back in place even if Grand Belle hadn’t yet had a chance to pronounce it. Cut offs were again specialty wear – like to the beach and stuff. We each got a hug and a kiss from Mama and off we went.

“Hi Gran’ Belle,” I announced as we clattered into the kitchen, “look how nice Roberto looks. I gotta change.” I left them to exchange pleasantries as I dashed straight to my bedroom and came up with a t-shirt that was very close to the color of Roberto’s and changed into a pair of starched shorts that were likewise of a similar color. I considered putting on socks, but abandoned the notion, no point in getting carried away. Back in the kitchen, Grand Belle beamed approval on my voluntary return to propriety and readily gave us permission to go downtown to the Dairy Queen for ice cream. I opined that we might have lunch there if it was okay with her. It was, and off we charged.

As we pedaled down the street, it seemed odd to me that I had never once asked Roberto where we were going. I would have needed to know this if I’d been with Johnny or Gary. I followed Roberto’s lead and we came to a side street business whose glass windows contained paintings on easels against fabric backdrops. The signs announced: “The Artist’s Gallery.” We stacked our bicycles against a tree in the sidewalk, said “Good morning,” to the lady sitting at a small table by the door and fanned out in the gallery to find our painting. There were some real interesting things in there. Some landscapes of the desert with Joshua trees, some forests and mountains, the ocean, and lots of that kind of stuff; and there were also some canvasses that were merely riots of color that depicted nothing at all, some of them were strangely moving. Roberto appeared and grabbed my arm, “I found it!” I followed him to the rear and there, in a small cubicle, was our painting. It hung on the rear wall and there were some baskets and pottery on shelves along the two other walls of the cubicle. It was quite large and it was the only painting in the cubicle. We stepped up and admired it. Miss Covington had been as good as her word. There were Roberto and I. I was pointing out to sea and he was coming up the knoll to see what I had seen. We were lean and leggy. Long black hair streamed around our heads so you couldn’t really see our faces. I was wearing flaps like Johnny had designed for the game of Indian, only I had one in back as well as one in front. The wind was lifting the one in front, and if you’d been standing in front of me, you’d have been able to see me, but my bare leg preserved modesty in the painting. The wind also played with my back flap, lifting and folding one corner, so you could see my butt cheek down to where it makes that sweet little crease where it folds into the leg. I had a quiver of arrows on my back, and a bow in the hand that was pointing out to the ship. Roberto was dressed similarly, but had more ornamentation on his outfit. He had a knife in a sheath attached to what I guess you would call his belt and a spear in one hand. His hair was also flowing all sexy in the wind. Similarly, the wind had lifted both of his flaps. The way he was standing, you should have been able to see him, but the front flap had lifted only a bit and a little touch of shadow hinted at the divinity that lay beneath. His back flap was up against his back, so you clearly saw the curve of his butt, but no more than that. He had several necklaces on and a colorful headband was losing its fight with the wind in his hair. He was wearing moccasins and I was barefooted. He was clearly my Cid and I thought the effect was great.

“Can I help you,” inquired a voice from behind us, we turned to see a younger man in a shirt and tie; he was wearing a short-sleeved shirt with his tie so it was immediately apparent that he was no gentleman. I didn’t look too closely, but I don’t think the tie was silk either. When I had changed my shorts, in addition to money, knife, and Pocket Ben, I’d had the foresight to pocket Miss Covington’s card.

“We know Miss Covington and she asked us to come see the painting,” I advised him with more than a hint of frost.

“So you know about the painting,” he continued to intrude clearly unaware that we were the stars of the painting.

“Yes,” I showed him her card, “thank you.”

“It’s already been sold,” he continued blithely, “and will only be here a short time before we ship it to New York.”

“Thank you,” and to Roberto, “let’s go to Miss Covington’s now.” We passed to either side of him in a controlled rush and exited promptly. As we were preparing to mount up, I was struck by a thought and commented to Roberto, “Ya know, that painting of us was really sexy, you were really hot in it.”

“Yeah. So were you, but I think you’re always hot. But I don’t really think it always matters in art, ya know. Mi Papa would like that painting too and it wouldn’t seem sexy to him.”

Now the gallery door came open in a rush and there he was again, as if something really important had just occurred to him, “But wait a minute you guys.” He was trying to boss us around for some reason. I just looked at him as if he had lost the last fragment of what little mind he had, nodded to Roberto who was poised and waiting, and we were off again. I again followed Roberto without comment as he clearly knew where we were going; he turned onto one of the nicer streets in town, slowed to get the number sequence, sped back up and we were there moments later. It was a nice Spanish style house, beige stucco with a red tile roof, lots of trees and shrubs. We parked our bikes by dropping them on the lawn and went up to the front door and rang the bell.

The front door was mostly glass, a large oval that had a thin white curtain on the inside. We waited and then saw movement behind the curtain. The door opened and a young lady stood there. She beamed at us, “You’re Roberto and Carlos. Please come in.” She swung the door wide and we entered and stood in a marble tiled entryway, I could look into the living room and saw plush carpeting and elegant furnishings.

“Emily! We’ve company,” and she led us through the house to the patio, asked us to sit at a white wrought iron table, and said, “Emily will be right here. You’ll need some lemonade in this heat.” Off she went. I thought the back yard was striking. There was a pool, but it somehow seemed far more formal than Gary’s yard. There was no diving board; but there was a large statue of a naked lady standing at the far end of the pool; then there were ornate planters for shrubs and flowers all around that really added to the formal effect of the yard. It looked like a movie set. You wanted to look around for Helen of Troy or Cleopatra, you know, someone like that. Miss Covington appeared and we both stood up and said, “Good morning.” She smiled stunningly and told us to sit down as she joined us at the table. The other lady came in with four tall glasses of lemonade on a silver tray and joined us at the table. “Roberto, Carlos, may I present Victoria Willoughby, she lives here too and is my partner.” I wondered what kind of partner she might be.

“Are you an artist too,” Roberto inquired.

“Goodness no, I don’t really do anything.” She smiled.

“Well. That’s not strictly true,” interjected Miss Covington, “Victoria is a writer and has had several of her books published.”

“Speaking of which,” Miss Willoughby said, “I’m right in the middle of finishing this one part that’s been troubling me and I’ve got all the solutions in my head, I must get them down before they escape.” She smiled, took her lemonade, and left. Miss Covington smiled after her and then at us.

“Now there are some things that I want you boys to know.” She focused on me. “Carlos, just as Roberto is your Cid, so is Victoria mine, you should feel perfectly free around her. I hope that you will come to call me Emily and her Victoria, but I know that will take some work for you because you are both gentlemen.” She looked at her watch, “Now I must make several telephone calls, then I want to show you something. It would please me if you would make yourselves at home for a little. Feel free to use the pool, and please swim in your natural way. As you can see, it’s quite private back here.” We stood up as she whisked off and I managed to stifle the “ma’am” I would ordinarily have used.

“Carlito querido, do we dare to swim?”

“What does ‘querido’ mean te amo…y…si!

“Well,” he blushed, “it means…well. It kinda means ‘dear’ or ‘dearest’…I hope you don’t mind.”

“Mind? Mind! I think it’s super and I love you.” I kissed him, I pulled my t-shirt off and folded it over a wrought iron love seat, I put my sneakers on the deck under the love seat, took my shorts off, folding them neatly too, ran to the pool and entered cleanly with a racing dive that took me almost to the far end of the pool with barely a kick or a stroke. I kicked off the end and got to the middle of the pool where I could stand and watched as Roberto dove cleanly into the pool. He’d been waiting for me to admire him. He circled under water until he popped up just in front of me and stepped into my arms for hugs and kisses. I clasped him close with both hands on his butt and asked him if I could call him “querido” too. He smiled and his eyes twinkled, “si mi Cid.” We splashed one another and swam under water and dove in a few more times (this pool really needed a diving board, plus it was way too warm) and then got out to have more lemonade. While we had been in the pool, someone had put two towels on the loveseat next to our clothes and there was now a pitcher of lemonade on the table. We dried off, draping the towels on two pool recliners in the sun, I poured more lemonade and toasted my Cid with a gentle chime of crystal. Miss Covington was coming through the doors onto the patio, I steeled myself to begin to try to break a habit I didn’t even recall getting, “Senorita Emily, thank you for your gracious hospitality,” and I raised my glass to her, I knew it was going to take some time and effort to get to just plain ‘Emily’.

“Wonderful,” she seemed pleased, “Now I want to show you boys something, please come along to my studio.” We followed her into the house and down a long hall to a large and wonderful room that was filled with sunlight from a number of skylights in the ceiling. There were easels and canvasses all around, some of them blank, and some in various stages of completion. One of them, conspicuously located, was covered with a white cloth. I felt Roberto resting his hand on the curve of my butt.

“First, I should tell you that I’ve already sold the painting you helped me finish.   It fetched a very pretty price. And second, I’ve been absolutely driven to finish this,” she stepped to the covered easel and lifted the cover up and off. There we were. It was the last sketch she had done of us, only now it was in oil, and we stood in each other’s arms looking out at the world, vibrant with life and youth and, if I may say so, sex. She had given me a full head of hair, longer than I’ve ever worn it; it covered the top of my ears, and swept in tousled elegance all over my head. Likewise, Roberto’s hair was longer than usual, but she had precisely captured the way his hair curled loosely in all directions at once. True to the sketch, the bottom came to just above our sex. You could just see the beginning of our pubic hair so you knew we were naked together. I was pleased to note that Emily had thoughtfully given me more pubic hair than, in fact, I possessed – I matched Roberto. We were clearly recognizable in this painting; it was so stunning in it’s effect, however, that I somehow knew that it would never hang in a place where any of our family were ever apt to be.

“I intend to keep this for myself,” Emily confirmed, “and sometime, in the hopefully far distant future, it will be yours.” Roberto was captivated to silence by the painting.

“It’s magnificent,” I provided with my best Episcopalian understatement.

“I’m glad you like it. Let’s go back to the patio.”

We went back down the cool hall and into the shaded warmth of the patio. Victoria was standing by the table, she was dressed casually, but very nicely; she was wearing, however, one of my Grandmother’s expressions. I know the: “it’s time” look when I see it. I began to consider our departure until I noticed that there was a plate of sandwiches on the table, these had been quartered into triangles; there was a tray of assorted finger vegetables on a cut crystal server, and a bowl of some kind of seafood salad in a matching crystal bowl. The service was clearly silver, two plates had been set out, there was water in a stemmed glass by each setting. Given the look on Victoria’s face, I did not think that this meal was for them. Emily confirmed this notion.

“We’re going to have to leave for about an hour. I hope you’ll enjoy lunch and the pool while we’re gone. I will have a client with me when I return and I think it will be a very good thing if you will meet him. We have some important matters to discuss, in any event, and I’m sorry that the day seems to be getting away from me. Will you do that?”

I glanced at Roberto to check his reaction, he was smiling, “Si senorita Emily,” I agreed.

“Splendid,” she enthused, “goodbye for now.”

We listened to the thumps of the garage door and the murmur of her Buick as they left. Roberto moved in behind me, putting his arms around me, he stroked me and rolled me with one hand while he rubbed his developing boner back and forth across my butt, letting it stand in my crack when it was full. He had me hard almost instantly.

“Estoy caliente mi corazon.” I knew what that meant, “me too Roberto…Roberto.” I led him into the shallow end of the pool and sat him on the steps. I admired his boner for long seconds as I wiggled him into just the right position on the steps and inserted my finger into his hole. I ran my tongue up and down him several times and then took him into my mouth. He was delicious, the water of the pool lapping against us, Roberto’s passion in my mouth and throat. I could have brought him off quickly, but I wanted this to last. I left his rod and, with a deep breath, I submerged into his crotch and had great fun tickling him by blowing bubbles against his balls and up his crack as my finger continued to massage him. I was feeling all tingly and anxious now, so I got up, sat in his lap, and took him deep into me. I really liked this position because it let me move against him so that I could get him to touch all the right spots within me, I would move up and down on him at different speeds. Prolonging the feelings, plus, he would always reach around to stroke and fondle me while I was doing this and I really loved that. I increased my speed and was getting ready for him to cum, suddenly I was concerned about the pool; I didn’t want to get any cum in it. I turned around again and started sucking and licking intensely. He cried, “Carlito!” and came and came. Like we always do, I kept him gently in my mouth, until I had drunk completely of him and he was softening in my mouth. I then stood and presented myself to him. He smiled, looking up at me, and swept me into his mouth. The steps of the swimming pool were really neat. We could get all of the positions and all of the angles just right.

“Roberto. Mi caliente Cid,” I murmured. I murmured other sweetness’ to him too. He sat back from me and looked me happily up and down.

“Aqui Carlito!” He pronounced, and we went over to the chrome rails of the swimming pool ladder. Roberto grabbed a rail in each hand and bent over presenting himself; I wasted no time stepping up and into him. I pumped him slowly, languorously, but my laziness was not appreciated, “mas fuerte Carlito! Mas fuerte te amo!” We were soon moving so strongly and quickly against each other that I flopped out of him once or twice, but I fixed that quickly, and increased my tempo. Thrusting forcefully. It couldn’t last long, and I surged into him, clasping him to me fiercely as I came. He grabbed my butt with both hands to keep me in him, and we slowly knelt together between the railings. I held to him ferociously and he laid his head back onto my shoulder and he whispered that he loved me. We stayed in this embrace, in the warmth of the sun and our passion, until I finally slipped softly out of him.

“Let’s eat food now,” Roberto suggested grinning.

“It’ll be dessert querido,” I agreed. We went to table

Actually, there were four different sandwiches on the plate: one was salami, one was a very delicately flavored wurst that I’d never experienced before, one was Roquefort, and one was chicken. I believe that all four were innocent of any involvement with Kraft or Oscar Mayer. There was a delicious crab salad with a very light lemony sauce. It was a great lunch, all things considered. I took my lemonade to the recliner where I’d left my towel.

“Lookit,” Roberto said pointing to a double recliner on the other side of the pool.

“Neat-o,” I agreed and took my towel over and spread it on one side of the recliner. I set my lemonade down and dove into the pool then got right out to lie on the recliner. Roberto did the same and as soon as he was next to me, I interlaced my fingers in his, enjoyed the feel of him, and of the water droplets trickling busily across me as they prepared to evaporate. I slept.

“Boys! Boys. Carlos! Roberto,” I recognized Miss Emily’s voice as she called me back from sleep. I slit my eyes open against the sun and looked down the pool to where Emily and Victoria were standing with two men on the patio. I gave Roberto a squeeze and stood up. I stretched the sleep away mightily and didn’t even think to pick-up my towel. I was enjoying this. I stretched and flexed some more, then picked-up my glass and went up on the patio.

“Senoritas,” I smiled at Emily and Victoria and set my glass down as Roberto came up beside me.

“Carlos Scott, please meet Walter Smith and Anthony St. Clair. Roberto Celayo de Galves, Walter Smith. Anthony St. Clair.” We nodded politely to them, but they seemed really flustered and off balance; so, since neither of them made a move to shake hands, neither did we.

I surveyed them carefully. It’s remarkable how easy it is, when you’re naked and secure, to evaluate another’s clothes. Mr. Smith did not come off at all well. He was wearing a light blue seersucker suit, with a white shirt that was open at the collar and a navy blue scarf knotted neatly about his neck, he wore one large signet ring, and there was a small gold chain running from the button hole of his lapel, to his coat pocket, which I assumed was connected to an appropriate watch; he was wearing white leather shoes. Pretty dismal: seersucker is a fabric much favored in the Confederacy for some obscure reason; if one must enclose one’s neck, one does it properly by buttoning one’s collar and wearing a tie; and of course, one wears white shoes to sporting events – usually as a participant.

Mr. St. Clair came off rather better, but still nothing to write home about. He was wearing entirely appropriate black loafers, gray slacks, and a blue blazer; his tie was a deep burgundy with a discreet pattern and it was beautifully knotted; a gold bracelet glinted on one wrist. My Father was extremely ambivalent toward blue blazers. Frequently referring to the wearers of same as the “blue blazer boys,” so naturally, I didn’t have one; but Mr. St. Clair, in fairness, was showing precisely the right amount of shirt cuff, and like I said, his tie was really well done; he looked very nice. Both men wore glasses. Mr. Smith was the older, with a full head of silvering hair that was meticulously brushed, while Mr. St. Clair’s hair was thicker and rather tousled, he had, however, twinkling eyes and a pleasant expression.

Mr. Smith sank further in my estimation and I could feel my nose going up in the air and I regarded him with one of Grand Belle’s looks: it was the, oh-dear-wherever-did-you-get-that-outfit look.

“Carlos Scott. That’s an unusual name.” I let the silence drag on for a bit and then condescended right back.

“Thank you. Mister, um…uh…Smith.” Mr. St. Clair thought this was hilarious and laughed with genuine delight. Miss Victoria turned away; I’m sure to hide a smile. Miss Emily looked distressed. Mr. Smith had a sorta dazed expression on his face, as if he was “away with the faeries” as my other Grandmother, the one who lived with us in Nevada, would say. Miss Victoria disappeared into the house muttering something about “freshening drinks.” Mr. St. Clair now made a point of shaking each of our hands and telling us it was a “real pleasure” to meet us.

He turned to Mr. Smith and asked, “What do you say to that? He stands there starkers and gives you right back.” He sat down and chuckled some more. “Carlos, I’m very sorry,” Mr. Smith began, “actually I meant it as a compliment. You both have very distinctive names. Mine is not. Can we start over?” He extended his hand. Sweetly victorious, I accepted and we shook hands solemnly.

“So, I think you can begin to see what I mean.” Interjected Miss Emily, “What I was saying about capturing a spirit that’s already there, as opposed to attempting to create it. In oils.”

“Yes. Oh yes. Please proceed with our project as we discussed,” Mr. Smith replied. Mr. St. Clair smiled hugely. Miss Victoria appeared with her tray with four tall glasses and two shorter ones. The two shorter ones doubtless contained some variation of Demon Rum: one of them contained ice cubes and clear liquid with a small piece of lemon peel, the other had a light amber liquid over the ice cubes. Mr. Smith took the amber glass; Mr. St. Clair took the clear one. Miss Victoria then provided Roberto and I iced teas, and then joined Miss Emily at the table with an iced tea for each of them.

“May I have you all to lunch, then, sometime next week,” Mr. Smith inquired. Miss Emily looked the question at me.

“Well, if we have a coupla days warning we can probably do it, don’cha think Berto?” Roberto thought that this would work, remarking shyly as to not always being his own boss.

“Few of us are,” commiserated Mr. Smith. Then he seemed to brighten, “Will you tell us a little of yourself Carlos?” I had warmed a little to Mr. Smith since he obviously now knew which of us had the high horse; and he had been very cordial toward my darling Berto. To be sure, I would not be wearing seersucker any time soon. In any event, I told him a little about the ranch in Nevada, and Anaheim in the summer. Of the trials and tribulations inherent in trying to be Dutch Reformed and Episcopalian by turns. I told him of my favorite horse, “Dragoon”, a bay Arab who could conquer the wind; and of my pick-up truck, a 1937 International known affectionately as “the Cornbinder”.

Then I solemnly intoned, “You have heard, perhaps, of Ruy Diaz de Bivar?” He shook his head no. I had him completely dazzled now. I dragged Roberto front and center, looked faintly disapproving at my audience, and then pivoted around Roberto, so that it seemed as if I was presenting him to royalty. “The greatest knight to ever serve a Christian king! Mi Cid!” Roberto was getting into this, and he struck a knightly pose, looking at a distant horizon for a suitable enemy to vanquish. I told the story of El Cid as well as I could, and I moved all around Roberto as if I was readying him for battle, faithful squire to noble knight; I told of championship and betrayal, of faithfulness and virtue, of battle for the right. I really got into the final battle, and whenever I didn’t know something, I just went ahead and invented the necessary detail. I sent El Cid off on his final ride. “And that is the story of mi Cid,” I concluded, and knelt before him, I took his hand and pressed my lips to the top of it as you would kiss, a king. We held the pose for a few moments and our audience actually applauded. I know that Miss Emily knew the story, but I didn’t know about the rest of them. In any event, I doubt that they’d ever seen it told in the nude before.

“I will call you Monday and we will make plans for lunch. Thank you Carlos. Thank you Roberto; you’ve given us a wonderful day.” Everyone shook hands. Miss Victoria started to escort them to the door; Miss Emily told us that they would join us at the pool in a minute or two. That we still had some business to discuss, then she followed them out.

We dove into the pool and cooled lazily off. Roberto swam a couple laps and I watched him underwater as he did this. I would have liked a mask or goggles for a better view, but that was a pretty minor complaint considering the use we had already had of the pool. At length the ladies returned. Both of them were wearing one-piece bathing suits and broad straw hats. They had matching light weight robes on that fell to just above their knees; they had not tied them so they were open at the front. Miss Victoria had a large straw handbag from the top of which peeked several lotion bottles. They began applying sun tan lotion to their arms and legs, the only parts of them that were vulnerable to the sun. We swam over to the ladder and clambered out of the pool. I asked for permission to use the bathroom and was given directions. Roberto and I followed the directions and then held each other to pee. We really needed this because they really liked to provide drinks. As we were shaking each other, Roberto told me that I had really made him feel great when I told the story of El Cid with him as the star. I told him he was the greatest and would always be, “Cid de mi corazon,” to me.

“Ven mi tesoro, and let us see what business they have for us.”

“What does that mean?” I needed to know.

“It means, ‘ come my very dearest’.” So, of course, I went.

We sat down on the grass next to the recliners that held our ladies who dressed-up for the sun.

“Well, where to begin?” Wondered Miss Emily. Since she had advanced considerably in my affections, to a state where I was prepared to endure a number of eccentricities, simply because they were her eccentricities, I forbore saying anything about the beginning, waiting patiently instead. “First, as I said before, I already sold our painting. I cannot begin to tell you how hard I struggled with the braves, and how much time I wasted, until you came along. With you, it became a complete labor of love, you were just somehow so right for the scene that I’m going to give you each a fifty-dollar bonus.” I prepared to decline this but she rode right over me, “You hush! I insist. It is only right. Because it is only right, you must permit me to give it just as it was only right that you would not raise the price of our first session. The right, as you know from the story of El Cid, is a two way street.” I subsided and Roberto smiled. “Second, Mr. Smith wants me to do a painting and you two are to be the models. For this painting, you will both receive two hundred and fifty dollars. I will disguise your features for this painting so no one will recognize you. The scene is this: you will be young men of Ancient Greece and you will be climbing a mountain path to celebrate a religious festival of love. You will be arm in arm.” She paused for a long moment, and I must admit that I was somewhat flustered by the sum of two hundred and fifty dollars. She went on, “The difficult part is that you will have to be …ah…er…aroused.” So, I wondered silently, what? Two hundred and fifty dollars was almost financial independence. She seemed really embarrassed. “What I mean to say is that you will have to be…ah…sexually aroused.” Okay, I thought to myself, that’s not that big a deal; but I looked the question to Roberto. He gave a tiny shrug as if he, too, wanted more information.

“Who’ll be there when this happens?”

“Just the three of us,” she assured me, then she went all embarrassed again, “I’ve never seen a man in that state before, I’ll not be able to do this without you.” Now it was my turn to be just kinda embarrassed.

“Well, look. When we’re like that, uh…”

“We’re muy caliente, senorita,” Roberto to the rescue.

“Yeah, that’s it. Can you leave us alone for a while after your sketches are done?” I looked to Roberto who gave the tiniest nod.

“Certainly! That will be no problem at all,” Miss Emily enthused.

“Then we’ll do it,” I agreed, and started budgeting my two hundred and fifty dollars.

Miss Emily went on to say that we would be more than welcome to bring our friends over to meet her sometime, or if we wanted a ride to our beach, she would be happy to help out. But then she grew serious.

“Now there are some things I think you need to know about the world. Walter and Tony have been together for many years; they are wonderful men who love each other. They thought that the two of you were beautiful and they enjoyed your company and your youth very much. As you grow older, you will meet more men, who like men, and some of them are…well…they have ugly souls. They may even try to hurt you. Maybe both physically and emotionally. You must always be on your guard until you know what the soul is like; some of them will be interested in you only for your bodies.” She paused and I thought of Dave and Johnny. She continued, “We think the two of you are very special. I think that the two of you will be together for life, but I want you to be careful, and I want you to know that you can always come to us if you have any questions about our world. Okay?”

“Yes’um,” we replied to these serious words that were tendered with such clear affection.

“Good. Will you stay for dinner?” I looked around frantically for the time and was about to jump for my shorts and my Pocket Ben, but Miss Victoria divined my concern and said, “it’s almost four.”

“Thank you, but we can’t stay tonight. Maybe another time. We should get home Roberto.” Roberto rose and kissed the hands of both ladies and I admired him even more, what a great gesture, and you could see that they both loved it. I followed suit. We dressed and they let us show ourselves out. We mounted up and started home. We thought maybe we could have dinner at Roberto’s and then he could sleep over at my house.

We wheeled up to my house and bustled into the kitchen. Grand Belle needed to know what we had been about, we told her the absolute truth, suitable edited, so that the emphasis was on bicycling around town with stops to window shop. I told her about the Art Gallery as if it were a new discovery and discussed the dubious modern art we had seen. Roberto chimed in that we had very much enjoyed our lunch. Neatly forestalling an inquiry, and I ran with it.

“We’re having pork chops tonight aren’t we?” I already knew we were from the smell.

“Indeed, would you care to join us Roberto?”

“I love to eat here,” Roberto replied, “but we were kinda wonderin’ if Carlos could eat at my house tonight.”

“And then Roberto could sleep over here tonight,” I followed through. Grand Belle laughed in great good humor.

“But what am I to do with the extra pork chops that I’ve already made?” This was a serious question. Food was not to be wasted. Our faces obviously fell. “But I think I may know what to do about that.” She paused for all the dramatic effect she could get. “I shall send them to India, where people are starving and appreciate good food.” This was one of her favorite jokes, so we’d made it. It used to be China. Unappreciated food was going to go to China where they were starving and would appreciate good food. But then the commies got rid of Chiang and that was it for China. They were on their own now. Her smile was beautiful, “Really, if Mrs. Celayo is in agreement, you can eat there tonight and Roberto can sleep here tonight; but that leaves the pork chops, so tomorrow, you and Roberto must be here at lunch time to eat them. If this is not entirely convenient to Mrs. Celayo, there’s to be no argument, you’re to be back here within thirty minutes for dinner. Agreed?”

“Oh yes’um,” we concurred, and I gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek. She then gathered Roberto in for a hug. He had been completely accepted.

We whirred down to Roberto’s. Both pick-up trucks were home. We clattered through their kitchen which also smelled wonderful, and approached Papa who was established in ‘his’ chair in the living room drinking a beer.

“Mi Carlos, mi Roberto,” he greeted us, “and how have you two lazed this day away?” We took turns telling him the same essential story that we had told Grand Belle, we were not worried about lunch when dealing with Papa, and mentioned it only in passing. For Papa, lunch was a given, not a chore that might be missed. He thought our plan a sound one and directed us to Mama for final authorization. This was cheerfully given, though we were quizzed about lunch. With utter truthfulness we disclosed that we’d had four sandwiches and lemonade and this was deemed sufficient.

We had chicken enchiladas with rice, sliced cucumbers with purple onions, sliced avocadoes with wedges of lime, and home made tortillas. The enchildadas were in a sauce that contained very little, if any, tomatoes, unlike the enchiladas that you get at a restaurant. It was a very light yellow-orange in color and perfectly complimented the chicken. It wasn’t all dripping with cheese either, don’t get me wrong, though, I like cheese just fine. I was wondering what new delight might appear for desert. It wasn’t anything new, but it was a great strawberry shortcake.

“So young Carlos.” I looked up hoping for another adventure, “Tell me of your ranch in Nevada.” Since I respected Papa immensely, I replied seriously, mentioning no numbers whatsoever. I spoke of squabbles with the Bureau of Land Management, the inability of many travelers to close a gate after they pass through, how we usually get three cuttings of alfalfa, but sometimes the weather only permits two, of water rights, and of the fluctuations of the market. I assured him that I frequently drove a 1937 International pick-up that didn’t have a synchromesh transmission; or power steering and was, for all practical purposes, mine. I spoke glowingly of my Dragoon, but Papa was a serious man, so I omitted the part about “conquering the wind”. I told him my Father’s story about the importance of a pocketknife hoping that this would aid Roberto in obtaining this useful item.

“Ah, it saddens me deeply that I’ve not been able to teach Roberto to ride, a useful skill, and we, of course, are the nation of the greatest horsemen of all. The savage Indian, as you know, rides his horse until it dies; the poor Gringo rides his horse until it is lame; but the Mexican, indeed, he rides his horse until he gets where he is going. A useful skill indeed.” This seemed like a heaven sent opportunity. I tried to be formal and serious, “Perhaps, Senor Papa, you would permit Roberto to visit the ranch this winter?” I hazarded hopefully, “Perhaps, too, I could stay on the ranch later into the summer and Roberto could work with me there in the early spring.” He looked at me quietly and I was infinitely pleased that he had taken my proposal seriously.

Since it was a serious discussion, I’d said “work” rather than merely learning to ride a horse. He looked up and away, “But the train is expensive, the ride is long.”

“But Roberto is older than me, and the ride will be easy for him. And I will help him. With his work, so that more can be done, and the fare can be saved.” He regarded me steadily and I knew that a serious objection was about to be made.

“But a man must work for himself, take pride in his work, and be free of debt to others.”

“But surely, mi Papa,” I faced him as steadily as I could, “I am not just any old ‘other’ and surely this is not a debt just of money. Mi Papa, Roberto is my great friend. Surely, on that last day, El Cid had friends who helped him win his victory, I would think that El Cid must have helped them before, else they would not have been with him that day: there was no debt just of money. Please let us try?” He still regarded me steadily, but I thought I saw a twinkle in his eye, and I thought I saw him start to smile.

“So soon,” he sighed, “so soon. I tell a great tale one evening and so soon it comes winging back to me. Very well, if you can save the fare, and if it is agreeable to your family, then Roberto will be there.”

“Gracias mi Papa.” This had been a serious talk and it would not have been fitting to let out a whoop.

“Gracias Papa,” said Roberto.

Shortly after nine, we arrived at my house. Roberto visited with my Grandparents in the living room and related that he had been given preliminary permission to visit the ranch this winter, if only my parents agreed to it. My Grandparents thought this was a splendid idea: my Grandfather had been a wheat farmer in his youth, he had fed the armies that fought the Great War and helped to feed the starving in the famines that swept the world after it; he had sold his farm in 1925, and moved to California. My Mother went to college during the Great Depression. My Grandfather was firmly of the opinion that agricultural work was very good for young men. Insofar as Grand Belle was concerned, since the work on a ranch or farm is never really done, it is “Good Christian Work.” While this adventure was being discussed by the three of them, I turned down the bed and got out pajamas and took them to the bathroom, there I started running the bath water. While we bathed, Roberto told me what a good job I’d done convincing Papa that he should come to Reno. He insisted that I was “Cid;” I insisted that he was “Cid.”   So we amiably “Cid-ed” each other throughout our bath. We kissed a lot, of course, but when we were rinsed and dried, we were only a little hard, and when we went back into the living room, we were entirely decent.

I went to the bookcase and took out the copy of Cyrano de Bergerac that I had recently found in one of the used bookstores downtown. This was the first play that I’d ever read that I really liked. My Father thought highly of Shakespeare, but I hadn’t been able to get into any of his plays. I wasn’t so sure about Shakespeare who, after all, was English. So anyway, I explained about the handsome Christian, who wasn’t really home though all the lights were on; and the fair Roxanne and her problems with appearance and reality; and Cyrano’s nose, and how Cyrano was trying to help Roxanne and Christian fall in love, when really it was Cyrano who was in love with Roxanne; then I went to my favorite part where wise ass Valvert gets it in the duel at le theatre. I struck a fencing pose with a pencil as a rapier, in one hand, and the open book in the other (I did not have the lines memorized yet) and I fenced across the living room, reciting the poem. I was merely toying with the hapless Valvert until:

“I strike, as I end the refrain….” And Valvert is toast. I salute my audience with my rapier and render them a sweeping bow.

“What a wonderful story,” Grand Belle enthused, she was kinda romantic; then, because she was also very practical, “what happens in the end?”

“Well,” I temporized, not wanting the evening to end on a sad note, “Cyrano wins.” The mantel clock was quietly announcing the arrival of ten. I hugged and kissed Grand Belle, then remembering, I took her hand and bowing over it, kissed her hand, as you would kiss, a queen. I gave Bobbin a hug and a kiss goodnight. Roberto hugged and kissed Grand Belle good night, and I thought that his bow, when he kissed her hand, was more courtly than mine. But it might just have been that I loved him. He shook Bobbin’s hand good night, but he did it as one gentleman to another gentleman, who is a very close friend, by taking Bobbin’s hand in both of his.

In the bedroom, I took him in my arms and kissed him deeply; I inserted my hands into the waistband of his pajama bottoms, and slowly slid them down. I used my toes to grab the fabric, and ran my foot down his leg, taking the pajamas to his ankles; I unbuttoned his top. He flopped down on the bed and got into that really sexy position, where he spreads his legs with one knee pointing to the ceiling. The pajama tops cover only his shoulders; this appearance of disarray makes him even sexier and more beautiful. I watch his boner grow a little. He’s smiling, mouth partly open, the tip of his tongue running over his lips all-promising. I smile and lick my lips as I push my bottoms down, then I run my hands all over me as I slowly unbutton my top. His dick is firming up across his leg, full of promise. I step out of my bottoms and gather up both pair, tossing them across the bed. I snap off the light and go to the foot of the bed and start kissing and licking him as I move up onto the bed, I go pretty fast because I want him in my mouth before he gets really hard. He’s been moving under me so we take each other in almost at the same time and I’ve been only partly successful as he is softly hard. I enjoy feeling him grow strong and vibrant when he is in my mouth. He toys with my butt with one hand as I do to him. With our free hands, we can hold our boners and lick them carefully, or jack them a little, or suck them deeply while fondling balls. We take a long time. It’s been a long day. We work each other slowly until; at last, our bodies take over and push us to completion. Then we relax in each other as our passion ebbs. Finally, he reverses his position and pulls the covers over us and kinda tucks me in. I entangle myself comfortably with him, as sleep is swiftly near.

“Carlito mi amor,” he whispers and I kiss his cheek, “eres la luz de mis ojos.”  

“Oh Roberto,” I respond with a kiss. I’ll ask him what it means in the morning.


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