Shannon, wearing a sleeveless t-shirt and shorts, blond hair tucked under
a baseball cap, arrived the next morning while Justin stood at the kitchen
counter mixing pancake batter. Michael was frying bacon on the stove.
John got up from the table to let her in, Chip prancing around her ankles
as soon as she stepped in, yapping with excitement, tail wagging. She
greeted the three men with a hug, then poured a cup of coffee and joined
John at the table.
“You’re gonna like our swimming hole,” she said with her delightful,
disarming smile. “Have you ever swam in a river before.”
“Just a swimming pool and the ocean,” John replied.
“I think you’ll like it. It’s the most beautiful spot on this ranch, the canyon
walls, the sun sparkling on the rapids. I like sitting in the shallow part of
the river and feel the water rushing past.”
Shannon studied the boy’s neutral expression a moment before turning her
attention to Justin. “Looks like you guys finished the rafters.”
“The roof’s next. Then the electrical. We’ll hook everything up and then
finish out the walls. I’d say about three more weeks.”
“It’s amazing how much you know about carpenter work?” she said.
“As opposed to what I know,” Michael put in, “…nothing.”
“I couldn’t have done it without you.”
“Or some other low-skilled laborer,” Michael replied.
“Three weeks,” said Shannon, turning her attention back to John, “About
the time school starts. Made any decisions about that?”
“I met Christie a few weeks ago, Justin’s friend in Alpine,” said Shannon,
referring to the woman John would be staying with during the school
week. “She went out with us one night when we drove up there for
dinner. I bet you’d like her.”
The boy shrugged.
“She’s a live and let live type,” Shannon added, ignoring the boy’s dour
Listening to the conversation, Michael gave Justin a hapless glance. He
looked down at the griddle, disheartened, realizing once again that any
hope for a sign of enthusiasm was unrealistic, at least for now.
The breakfast dishes washed and put away, towels in hand, they filed out
of the house and started for Justin’s Jeep. Shannon, carrying a basket
that held a picnic lunch, pulled Michael aside before they reached the Jeep.
“My swimsuit’s in the car. I figured it’d be appropriate.”
Michael looked at John, now sitting in the back seat behind Justin, Chipper
in his lap. “Justin and I talked about that last night. Who knows what’s
right or wrong. We don’t wear swimsuits down there. Why put up a front?
He has to accept the way things are. So if you’re feeling self-conscious, it’
s up to you.”
Shannon’s gaze drifted to the ground as she pondered the circumstances.
“I spent most of my life smothered by hang-ups. Maybe we shouldn’t
nurture John’s.” Her eyes met Michael’s. “I’ll leave it in the car.”
Michael nodded. “Fine with me. If he has qualms about nudity, he’ll just
have to deal with it today.”
Justin pulled the Jeep off the gravel road where it dead-ended near the
base of a large rock outcropping. A few yards ahead, rising like limestone
skyscrapers, a two-hundred-foot high wall of rock. He turned the Jeep off
the road and drove across the desert parallel to the base of the mountain,
steering around yuccas and creosote bushes and then parked in a wide
wash that cut through the mountain and formed a narrow canyon. The
warm desert air bathed their skin as they collected at the back of the Jeep,
gathered their totes and started through the rock-strewn wash. They hiked
into the narrow canyon, flanked by sheer rock walls towering toward the
heavens, Chip stepping cautiously behind them, struggling to keep up,
seemingly mesmerized by his paws sinking into the loose gravel. Justin
remembered the day Michael first walked through the canyon and, craning
his head skyward, had said: It’s like looking at the sky from the bowels of
The canyon floor dipped sharply near the end, where a pool of water
stood, stagnant and green, wall-to-wall and fifteen feet to the other side.
Here they could hear the sound of rapids from the river.
“We had to wade through this the first time Justin brought me here,”
Michael told John. “That water’s knee deep. When we got to the other
side, he told me to check my legs for leeches.”
John’s head turned to Justin’s grinning face.
“We rigged this bridge before we started building your room,” Justin told
John’s eyes shifted to the makeshift plank bridge.
“All that rock we used to built the room came off the river bottom. We had
to lug it through here in backpacks. Too bad you weren’t here then.”
“You got all those rocks out of the river!”
“Sure did. Took three days,” Michael said, charmed by the boy’s
fascination with the murky green water. “That’s why we built the bridge.
Can you imagine wading through that with a hundred pounds of rock on
“We figured the river’s where the stone for the original house came from,”
Justin added. “Haven’t seen it around here anywhere else.”
John shook his head. His gaze lifted skyward, lit with a vague
enchantment. Michael’s eyes narrowed on the boy with interest, cautious
about being too hopeful the ice might be beginning to melt.
Single file, they crossed the bridge, then climbed over the rockslide that
had dammed the pool eons ago, emerging from the canyon on a grassy
sand bar that provided their first glimpse of the Rio Grande. They paused,
standing in a group, three pairs of apprehensive eyes on a boy.
“What do you think?” Michael asked.
“Pretty neat,” said John, taking a few steps into the clearing, gazing
upstream where the land leveled out and the river broadened with a glassy
calm surface; then downstream, where the land continued its gradual
incline to the Gulf of Mexico hundreds of miles away, where the water
flowed with its noisy song, cutting through the towering rock which formed
a wide, shadowy canyon. A dry breeze tingled across the hairs on their
arms, wispy and silent, filled with the smells of the river. Here and there a
feathery white cloud hung motionless in the pastel blue sky. Near the
edge of the river, the grass gave way to a sandy beach, formed and ever-
changing by countless flashfloods.
“Is it deep?” John asked as he took a few more steps forward, looking
downstream where the river disappeared around a bend.
“Up there it is,” said Justin, nodding at the placid water upstream. “Not
quite knee-deep in the rapids. That’s where we got all the rock.”
They walked to the beach and began to disrobe, John standing off to the
“We gonna change right out here?” the boy asked with a hint incredulity.
Unbuckling his sandals, Michael looked up and then straightened his
back. “John, we don’t bother with swimsuits. We just swim naked.”
Shifting out over the river, the boy’s eyes filled with disquiet and disbelief.
He stood for a moment, as if to let his scattered sensibilities revert back to
rational thought As Shannon pulled the sleeveless t-shirt over her head,
his eyes settled on her.
She leaned forward to take off her sandals, her heavy breasts swaying
downward from her small chest. Hooking her thumbs in the waistband of
her shorts, she caught sight of the boy from the corner of her eye,
suddenly very conscious of her body and his furtive gaze. She wondered
if this would be the first time he has seen a nude woman, her thumbs still
hesitant at the waist. Would he think differently of her? Would their
budding friendship change course, or would he join in, be part of the group
and unmindful of their collective nudity?
But Shannon had never been inside the mind of a fifteen-year-old boy.
Aware of his innocent, though obvious curiosity, she didn’t quite grasp the
workings of such a young man’s mind; that her body already owned every
thought his brain could produce. With a sideways glance, she noticed
Michael and Justin wading into the rapids, already nude, and down her
legs went the shorts. Stepping out of them, a glance John’s way
accompanied by her disarming smile, as if to say nothing extraordinary had
just taken place, she followed the men, who were now sitting midstream on
the river bottom with the rapids rushing against their backs.
John stood on the sand, staring with eyes fixed with wonder and
astonishment, a gaze fixed on lush sun-browned hips, swaying and jiggling
with each feminine step across the rocky, unpredictable river bottom. He
had in fact not seen a nude woman before, other than pictures and on the
Internet, an image his gaze could not resist, an image as compelling to a
boy as any of life’s nutrients. It had been no more than a downward
glimpse before she turned toward the river, a glimpse below her belly at
the apex of her legs, shaved and smooth, plump and divided by protruding
labia, a glimpse destined to revitalize his memory forever.
Shannon joined the men, taking her place between them. She drew up her
knees and wrapped her arms around them.
“I never get tired of how good this feels,” said Justin, leaning back and
bracing his hands on the river bottom. “Mother Nature’s Jacuzzi.”
“You two aren’t concerned?” Shannon asked. “He’s just standing there,
“You’re surprised,” said Justin. “He’s fifteen. Probably never did anything
like this before. Give him a minute.”
“I could feel his eyes all the way out here.”
“You expected him to not notice that gorgeous body?”
“Thanks, Justin, but that doesn’t make this any easier.”
“Is your modesty comin’ back to the surface?” Justin teased.
“This is different and you know it.”
“He’s pouting,” Michael said with dismay.
“He’s not pouting!” said Shannon, looking at him, exasperated. “Maybe
Justin’s right. He’s probably never done this before and we just sprang it
“He’ll come around,” said Justin. “Let’s go upstream and do a little
They came to their feet, standing fast against the strong current, water
roiling around their shins.
“Hey John,” Michael called out over the noisy rapids. “Water’s great. We’
re going up there to swim. Come on in.” Though wary of imposing
circumstances that might further alienate the boy, he wanted John to see
things for what they were in this family, desperately wanting him to become
part of it.
Walking upstream against the current, Michael glanced at John every few
feet. The boy, having put the puppy on the sand, finally got his shirt
unbuttoned. Michael watched him lift it off his shoulders and let it drop on
the sand. John reached for his belt, unbuckled it, unfastened his jeans,
then stood fidgeting, staring absently as if he were nervously calling upon
his courage. By the time the others reached calm water, the jeans were
down around his feet. Standing in water belly deep, Justin took Shannon
by the waist, lifted her and threw her forward. Her scream resonated off
the canyon walls and she came up laughing, the brim of her cap dripping,
her blonde hair plastered to her neck. Under she went, swimming down to
Justin’s ankles. She grabbed them and pulled him off his feet.
Just before Michael suffered the same fate, he looked back toward the
beach and saw John approaching the water in his white cotton briefs.
Michael surfaced and stood with the others, watching his approach.
“Guess he is a little modest.”
“Girls are at his age,” said Shannon. “Why not boys?”
“Wonder how long he’ll keep his underwear on,” Justin mused.
Michael watched him for a moment, then set out across the smooth
surface, hands dipping into the water just beyond his head, propelling him
forward, his body a shimmering male form some few inches beneath the
glinting surface. Justin and Shannon followed him. Treading the deep
water by the time John caught up, he fell in when they resumed the swim.
Back and forth they swam, from the high rock on the Mexican side to the
scrub-lined bank on the American side, eventually ending up back in the
waist-deep water. Chipper stared longingly from the beach, yapping now
and then as he trotted back and forth, unwilling to get more than his front
paws in the water.
“Get on my back,” Justin said to Shannon, turning his back to her. “Let’s
see if those two can hold their own in a friendly match.”
Shannon climbed onto Justin’s back and they looked at their prospective
opponents with a dare in their eyes. Michael turned his back to John and
said: “Hop on. Let’s show ‘um how it’s done.”
John climbed onto his father’s back and the two-man teams tentatively
approached each other, Shannon grabbing for John’s arms as the pair
neared. Slowly circling each other, eyes fixed and determined, arms and
hands flailing, Shannon finally got a hold of John’s forearm and pulled with
all her strength. While Michael struggled for balance, John got hold of her
free wrist and the battle intensified. They laughed and pulled at each
other. Wobbly on their feet, Michael and Justin moved forward and back,
trying to tip the other off balance. Each man held tight their partners legs,
trying to prevent the forearm around their necks from choking them. A firm
jerk, a squeal from Shannon, and Justin lurched awkwardly forward. They
both disappeared under the surface.
“You got ‘um. Good show, John.”
The boy slid from his father’s back and watched two heads reappear. All
around them, small waves rolled in concentric circles and broke gently
against the nearby rock, disappearing on the other side of the river in the
overhanging scrub. Michael looked at John, thinking about how much fun
that had been, feeling a sense of contentment. For a little while anyway,
their relationship had been typical of a father and son. Justin’s idea to
take the boy swimming had been a good one.
Panting, Justin turned and waded toward the outcropping of rock on the
Mexican side, saying: “That winded me. Think I’ll sit down for a minute.”
The others followed. They crawled up on the rocks and found a place to
sit, each listening to the river, taking in the colors and hues around them,
letting the sun warm their wet skin.
“That wasn’t fair,” said Shannon. “Two men against a man and a woman.”
“You held your own pretty good,” Michael replied.
“Thought she was gonna choke me there for a minute,” said Justin, turning
toward her. “You had your arm around my neck.”
“Sorry about that.”
“Oh shit!” Michael cried, looking upstream. “A raft.”
“Everyone in the water!” Justin said urgently, splashing into the river,
quickly followed by three more splashes.
Standing in chest deep water as the boat neared, they watched the
approach of a large rubber raft carrying a half dozen tourists. Toward the
back on his knees, an oar in each hand, the operator deftly guided the
craft toward the rapids. Apprehension filled the eyes of the hapless
passengers as they glanced between the rapids ahead and the four heads
protruding from the water some twenty feet away.
“Howdy,” called out the guide as the boat passed. “Good day for a swim.”
Smiles and nods from the foursome, bare shoulders beaded with water
glinting with sun. They watched the boat pass, confident they hit the water
before the passengers saw anything.
“The guides wouldn’t give a shit,” said Justin. “They all skinny dip around
here. Never know about the tourists. Coulda’ been a church group.”
Back on the rocks, Michael sat behind John, looking at the back of his
head as the boy dangled his feet in the river, smiling inwardly at the image
of the boy climbing out of the river, the seat of his underwear wet and
drooping, the waistband riding low on one hip. He contemplated their
relationship, their lack of history, wondering if John would ever be able to
reconcile the reasons behind it. Was he searching for a way to forgive?
Was he, on some level, wanting to know his father, to love him, to share a
father/son relationship? It didn’t seem too much to ask, even if it were too
soon. Even if a boy’s natural admiration for his father was, just now,
nothing more than a subconscious glimmer that would incubate in time, he
could sleep tonight with a warm feeling of contentment.
Shannon moved closer to John and combed his wet hair with her fingers.
Obviously discomfited by her close proximity, he stared straight ahead,
noticeably tense, inadvertently snatching glimpses. “When we planned to
go swimming today, you didn’t expect skinny-dipping, did you?”
“No.” He turned and looked into her eyes.
“Does it bother you?”
One shoulder shrugged. “Not really.”
“Ever done it before?”
“Once. With some other guys at a friends house. They had a swimming
“Kinda fun, isn’t it?”
“But we’re not a bunch of guys, are we?”
“You’ll get used to us, John. We’re just a little weird. And when you do, I
think you’ll enjoy being part of our family.”
He looked her in the eyes again with the glimmer of a smile. Then his
eyes dropped to her breasts and he quickly averted them from her
unabashed nudity, conscious of the fact that he wouldn’t mind staring at
her all day.
“Anyone for a dive or two?” Justin asked, coming to his feet. Behind them,
a wall of rock, crags and crevasses reaching for the sky. A few feet away,
twenty-five feet above the river, a small landing that protruded slightly over
the water, accessible by a challenging climb. “Maybe we should work on
your swan dive,” Justin said, stepping up behind as Michael began the
Heads craned, John and Shannon watched the two men inch their way up
the precarious cliff. With her eyes shadowed by the brim of the cap,
Shannon watched the man she still loved make the challenging climb.
Now that her romantic notions were locked away in her memory, her love
had evolved into a wonderful friendship, which also included Justin. They
had all become family, like brothers and sisters, or perhaps even closer
than that. Still, sometimes she thought about it at night, picturing him as
the strapping young surgeon in San Diego, holding her pillow to her chest,
imagining what might have been. How beautiful he looked making the
climb, muscle straining across his back, buttocks and thighs flexing. At
least they were close friends. At least their days would be spent together
building the clinic, then operating it. And now she shared John with him, a
relationship off to a good start. She believed the boy trusted her, that he
would come to her when he wanted to talk—somewhere between a
mother, a sister, a friend.
It didn’t bother her when he looked at her body. Part of becoming a man,
after all, was coming to know the nuances of a woman’s body, the softer
textures and form, the differences between a female body and his own.
She sensed he was beginning to feel more comfortable with the
circumstances, and as a result, perhaps they would become even closer
“I dated your father when we lived in San Diego,” she said impulsively.
She had contemplated this issue with mixed emotions, thinking now that
John should know these things, and certainly finding nothing sinister or
shameful about it.
John looked at her with surprise.
“I fell in love with him. Didn’t know he was gay at the time.” She looked at
the boy and smiled. “To him we were just friends. It broke his heart when
he had to tell me. Mine, too. I wasn’t planning to tell you about this, but
changed my mind when something occurred to me. I know why your
mother handled it the way she did.”
Stunned, John listened with interest.
“I would’ve done the same thing if I had been your mother.”
“Why?” the boy asked.
“For his benefit and hers. Your mother knew he was gay, and she
probably loved him in her own way. But she knew his plans for the future
and her own. She knew her plans could never include your father. Telling
him would have made it very hard on both of them.” She placed her arm
around his shoulder and pulled him close for a quick hug. “I know it
sounds complicated. It must’ve been a very emotional time in your mother’
s life. It’s a crossroads in her life. Sometimes we don’t know which
direction to take. We can only go with what our instincts tell us is best. I
just wish you could understand.”
“John’s gaze shifted out over the river as he tried to fathom what he had
just heard. He, too, had reached a crossroads in his life when his mother
died. His instincts had told him to run away. But what would he do, not
even old enough to get a job?
The two men reached the landing. Standing side-by-side, Justin looked at
his lover and smiled. Particles of sand clung to the blond hair on his chest,
and a place on his shoulder had reddened where he had scraped it on the
climb. “Try not to land on your belly this time,” he said as Michael stared
down at the river.
“Why does it always look so much higher up here?”
“That’s part of the problem. You look down and tense up. You let it
intimidate you. Just point your hands over your head and go in head first.”
Michael positioned himself, determined, crouching slightly, a deep breath
with arms held straight up, fingers straight and pointing skyward; and into
the air he flew, overwhelmed immediately by the sensation of falling. Then
the splash, the plunge into that murky, watery, soundless world of turtles
and fish. He surfaced grinning, certain it had been a rather good dive.
Shannon applauded with a grin. “When we first started swimming here,
your father wouldn’t dive. He’d cannonball in. That’s the best one I’ve
seen him do.” She glanced at John as he stared at his father, pleased the
boy seemed more relaxed. A dark circle of moisture had bled into the
sandstone he sat on, dripping from his wet underwear.
Justin hit the water a couple yards beside him, splashed his eyes. The
unlikely pair swam to shallower water, where Justin gave Michael a pat on
the back. “Good dive, buddy. I’m proud of you.”
Michael nodded at Shannon and John. “They’re going up.”
Feeling buoyant in the deep water, Justin turned and watched them begin
the climb, Shannon first, John looking up at her.
“Look at him stare,” said Justin.
“That’s what I do when you go ahead of me,” Michael confessed.
“Provides an interesting view.”
“Then we’re guilty of the same thing.” Justin watched the boy for a
moment, then said: “Looks like he’s gonna keep his underwear on and I
think I know why.”
“I noticed it, too. He’d be pointing at the clouds if he took it off.”
“Sorta’ confirms things, doesn’t it?”
“About his sexuality?”
“I’ve assumed he’s straight all along,” Michael said. “The odds favor that.
If we could only get him to accept a gay father.”
“That’s probably your biggest obstacle.” Justin continued to watch. “She’
s half way up and John still hasn’t moved.”
“He’s not even aware we’re watching him. Like he’s mesmerized.”
“Shannon’s probably wishin’ she had let him go first,” said Justin.
“Fifteen years old. Can you imagine what’s going through his mind?”
“I figure this’ll be a day he’ll never forget.”
John finally started the climb. Shannon waited for him at the top. When
he stepped onto the landing, she noticed his problem. He discreetly tried
to adjust himself, but the attempt was useless and all but comical. The
underwear was wet and sagging and clinging gloriously. It embarrassed
her, not on her part but his, certain this is what had made him so self-
conscious. Though she thoughtfully pretended to not notice, mindful of his
fifteen-year-old sensibilities, she wanted to tell him there is nothing
shameful about the human body, that erections are normal and happen
randomly to all men.
“I swam here three times before getting the nerve to climb up here,” she
told him. “Seems awfully high, doesn’t it?”
“Who goes first?”
“You go,” said John, then fixed his eyes on her as she faced the river,
arched her back and launched herself off the cliff. From above, his eyes
followed, along with another futile attempt to adjust himself, to hide the
obvious. When Shannon surfaced, he was still standing on the ledge,
staring, as if his mind had wondered a million miles away. Then,
apparently realizing it was his turn, he made a nearly perfect dive, hitting
the water with hardly a splash.
Justin looked at Michael. “Well, that’s one more thing you two don’t have
The day passed. They had body-surfed in the rapids, swam a couple of
races across the widest part of the river, and ate ham sandwiches in a
shady area on the thin grass. John’s erections had become less frequent
by mid-afternoon. Though at times he seemed to be having fun, there
were several occasions he seemed distant, apart from those around him,
staring into the canyon or into the glare of the river as if his mind were
back in Boston during happier times.
Justin let him drive the Jeep back to the house. He ground the gears a
couple of times, lurched a bit releasing the clutch, but all-in-all he
displayed genuine mastery over the cantankerous machine. The seat and
crotch of his jeans were wet, having put them on over his wet underwear.
Back at the house, sitting on the veranda in one of the deck-chairs he and
Justin had made, Michael invited his son to join him when the boy returned
from the outhouse. John stared out across the desert as Michael spoke.
“What’re they doing inside.”
“Figured we could talk for a minute or two.”
“You handled that Jeep pretty good. Your mother teach you how to drive?”
“She let me drive to the grocery store a couple of times.”
Michael’s thoughts traveled back to his long friendship with Jennifer. How
many evenings had they spent together—too many to count. He never
had many true friends. Other than Jody and Shannon, he never felt as
comfortable being around someone as he did John’s mother. “Wish we
hadn’t lost touch,” he said, staring at the horizon. A moment passed
before he remembered what he had been thinking. “Well, anyway,” he
said, looking back at John. “Have you thought about starting school here?”
The boy’s weight shifted uncomfortably, implying this subject didn’t much
appeal to him.
“I’d rather you go close by, but I’m more comfortable with the school in
“Guess it doesn’t matter,” said the boy.
“You’ll like Christie. She’s good natured like Shannon. Plus it’ll give you a
few days a week away from me; your own space you might say. Sound
“I figure you’ll need a car.”
John looked at him, surprised. His gaze shifted to the ground just beyond
his feet, reflecting thought. Then he looked back at Michael. “Am I old
enough to get a license here?”
“I don’t know. If not, we’ll get you a hardship license. If that doesn’t work,
we’ll get you a car anyway. Things aren’t as formal here as they are in the
As the prospect of having his own car began to soak in, John could hardly
contain his excitement. “You’re serious about this?”
“Sure. It’ll get you to school. You can use it to come home on weekends.
You might even end up meeting a girl you wanna date. You’ll have a car.”
“Mom said I couldn’t have a car until I’m seventeen.”
Looking at him, Michael nodded thoughtfully. “Well, I can understand that,
but you and me are making the decisions now. I’ll buy a new one and give
you my Cherokee.”
As John leaned forward and braced his elbows on his knees, his gaze
shifted back to the desert. Michael felt a sense of elation. This looked like
a step in the right direction. The boy was excited about getting a car and
his father was getting him one, something his mother wouldn’t have done
for two more years. His mind shifted to their day on the river and he smiled
inwardly picturing the tall lanky boy in his saggy wet underwear. He had
struggled to keep it up all day, seemingly unaware of how ridiculous he
looked, which had endeared Michael all the more. And he would never
forget the lost expression on his face every time he looked at Shannon,
whom had been a good sport, as if her plight had been that of someone on
“Seems like you and Shannon are getting along pretty good. She was
glad you wanted her to come today.”
“I like her. She’s nice.”
“She planned to wear her swimsuit today,” Michael told him.
John’s head turned. “Why didn’t she?”
“I asked her not to.”
John’s brow furled. “Why?”
“Because we always swim nude. Shannon, too. Would you prefer we do
things differently when you’re around?”
After thinking a moment, John replied: “No.”
“She’s pretty, isn’t she?”
“She’s a Midwestern girl. Used to be real shy and kinda uptight. One day,
when my sister and bother-in-law were here, we teased her into taking a
shower over there, right out in the open with all of us watching, just to get
her to loosen up a little. It worked. It was like another part of her inside
broke free and she hasn’t been the same since.” Michael watched the boy
take all of this in. “Anyway, that’s the way things are around here. We don’
t have issues with who we are or our bodies.”
“You saying I should’ve taken my underwear off today?”
“No. Wasn’t even thinking that. Actually, if I was fifteen in those
circumstances, I would’ve left my underwear on, too.” Michael thrust his
feet forward, reached into his pocket and pulled out the car keys, offering
them to the boy. “Go check it out. Take it for a spin if you want; just stay
on the gravel road.”
John looked at the keys with an expression not unlike the one Michael had
witnessed all day when his eyes were glued on Shannon. He took the
keys with fleeting reserve and hurried off the veranda. Michael watched
him disappear around the corner of the house, feeling a sense of relief
they had settled the issue of enrolling in school.
He didn’t like the idea of his son being away all week, but had little
confidence in the local school’s curriculum. Plus he knew John would be
well supervised. Christie would keep an eye on him without being
intrusive. A few minutes later, he heard John start the Cherokee, then the
sound of tires crunching on the gravel road. He smiled as he stared at the
horizon, thinking everything was going to turn out okay.
Shannon came out, handed him a cup of coffee and sat down beside him.
“Did I hear a car drive away?”
“John’s trying out his new ride.”
“You gave him your car?”
“Not just yet. When I get a new one, that one’s his. We have time before
“He agreed to go to school here?”
“Sounds like you had a productive conversation,” she said, sipping her
“A good day all around.” Michael looked at her and grinned.
“What’s so funny,” she asked.
“Know what my favorite part of the day was? The first time you climbed up
to make a dive.”
“Why was that?” she asked quizzically.
“John was behind you. You put him in a trance.”
Shannon slapped his arm and her face flushed. “I wasn’t thinking. I
should’ve let him go up first. That’s embarrassing.”
“Think of it as sex-ed 101,” he said, still grinning. “So what’s Justin
“He’s fooling with the radio. Looks like it went out.”
Michael shook his head. “That old Zenith must be fifty years old. Hope it’s
not a tube. They probably don’t make ‘um anymore.”
“What a shame,” she teased. “You guys might have to break down and
buy a new radio.”