Chapter 52

Tommy

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SUMMARY: At a time of national turmoil, the lives of four boys become connected as each struggles to accept his sexuality and to address the challenges he faces in life. To the extent the boys succeed in coming to grips with those challenges and in doing the right thing, it may be in ways that prove surprising or troubling. While some events, locations and features have been moved forward or back in time for dramatic and other purposes, the story takes place during an era when prejudice against homosexuals is rampant and the gay revolution in America is still at its beginnings. You can find a longer synopsis of the entire story at my blog here. Please note that italics are typically used to indicate what a character is thinking or saying to himself.

WARNING: This story is intended for mature audiences only since it includes scenes that depict graphic sex and violence. While I realize people read stories like this for different reasons, you may be disappointed if you’re reading my story primarily for sexual content. There is some, which is why I’ve included the warning. But if sexual content is your primary focus, you may do better on a site like Nifty.

NOTICE: This story remains the property of the author and may not be reproduced in any form without written permission. It is protected by the copyright laws of the United States. You may download a single copy to read offline and to share with others as long as you credit me as the author, but you may not use this work for commercial purposes. You may not use any of the characters, bars or other fictional locations described in the story in your own work without my explicit permission. Nor may you use, alter, transform, or build upon this story in any way.

AUTHOR NOTES: This is my first effort at writing a story. Comments and constructive criticism are welcome. Flames will be ignored. Any help with spelling and other errors would also be appreciated since I would like to correct those wherever possible. Feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me at kitkatkid[at]planetmail[dot]net if you would like to let me know what you think. Please note that this story is being archived on Nifty. However, individual chapters will always be published here first. Thanks for reading the story. I hope you enjoy it

THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER: In Chapter 51, Andy is stunned by news reports that a compromise is in the works regarding the McPherson amendment. He learns that the Speaker of the House of Representatives has invited Happy Jack to a meeting in his office and asked him to bring Andy along. At that meeting, the Speaker encourages Congressman McPherson to consider compromising in order to avoid damaging the President and her agenda. He asks Happy Jack and Harlen Lane from the White House to negotiate an agreement both can live with. Happy Jack agrees to consider compromise, but notes how difficult it will be and insists that it must be genuine. He also delegates the responsibility for negotiating a compromise to Andy. With Wade Walker, the Speaker’s floor general, present to serve as an observer, the two sides meet for hours in an effort to come to some kind of agreement. However, it’s quickly apparent the White House isn’t serious about compromise and no real progress is made. Harlen makes a veiled threat against Andy, but Wade Walker lets him know the Speaker will not tolerate any personal vendetta against the young staffer. The meeting ends without an agreement and both sides head back to the Speaker’s office where they had earlier agreed to reconvene.

CONNECTED

Part V – Something Worthy

Chapter 52

It was a little before 5 p.m. when Happy Jack finally wandered over to the Speaker’s office. I pulled him aside and briefed him quickly on how negotiations with the White House had gone. Although I was convinced I had done my best to find some basis for compromise, I was also worried the Congressman would be disappointed with me for failing to reach an agreement.

But Happy Jack quickly dispelled that notion.

“I’m not surprised,” he said. “I’m not surprised at all. I figured Harlen would try to run over you like a ten ton truck.”

“And having tried to do that once or twice myself,” he added, his wrinkled face suddenly dissolving into a grin, “I was pretty sure what would happen.”

“So you’re not disappointed in me, sir?” I asked, still concerned I had let the man down.

“I’m disappointed a compromise wasn’t possible,” he replied. “I don’t like having to fight my own President. But I’m not surprised at the outcome and I certainly don’t blame you, Andy. This latest bunch at the White House is arrogant, just like all the rest of them. It must be something in the water they drink over there.”

I was relieved to hear I was off the hook with Happy Jack, but still nervous about what would happen when the Speaker reconvened his meeting. He didn’t actually get around to doing that until 5:25 p.m. and I remember agonizing the whole time about whether I would get the blame for our failure to forge a compromise. But once the Speaker did reconvene the meeting, it didn’t actually last very long.

“Well, I’m glad everyone was able to make it back this afternoon,” the Speaker intoned, looking around the room. “I appreciate it very much. Wade has filled me on what happened in the negotiations and I’m sorry to report we haven’t been able to come up with a compromise after all.”

“That happens sometimes. Everyone tries their best to reach an agreement, at least most people do,” he added, looking over at Harlen, “but sometimes the issues are so compelling and so principled that no compromise is really possible. It looks like this is one of these issues and I guess I’m not really surprised by that all that much.”

“Now I’ve talked to the Leader here,” the Speaker continued, nodding at the Majority Leader, “and we’re agreed we’ll bring up defense appropriations for consideration next Wednesday.”

“Jack, I’ll be instructing the Committee on Rules to make your amendment in order; and because it’s such an important amendment and one that so many members will want to speak on, we’re going to set aside eight hours for debate on the amendment. I don’t have to tell you just how unusual that is, Jack, but this war needs a thorough airing before we move on to something else around here.”

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker,” the Congressman interjected. “I appreciate it.”

“Now don’t get the wrong idea, Jack,” the Speaker continued. “As much as we wish we could be with you on this, the Leader here and the Whip and I are going to do our best to beat you fair and square,” he added, a smile creasing his craggy face; “or perhaps even otherwise if necessary.”

“Wade tells me Andy there did make a genuine effort to compromise. You have a good legislative assistant, Jack, so I might have to come after him once all of this is over. You best treat him good in the meantime.”

“Just like I’m sure everyone else will,” he added, looking over at Harlen, “at least if they have a lick of sense anymore. I don’t get mad very often, but there are some things I just won’t tolerate and everyone best keep that in mind.”

And then, without another word said, the meeting was over.

The Congressman and I walked back to the Rayburn building. When we got to the office, he motioned for me to come in and join him.

“You heard what the Speaker said, son,” Happy Jack began. “They’re going to come after us with everything they’ve got. The thing is, I want to beat them, Andy. You keep doing what you’re doing, but you need to put me to work more than you have, son, because I do want to beat them. And who knows? Maybe we even can. But for now I’ve got a press conference.”

“Here’s a little statement I drafted up to begin it with while you were over there talking to Harlan Lane. What do you think of it, son?”

I looked at the document he handed me.

I want to thank everyone for attending this press conference tonight. There’s been a lot of speculation today that I was thinking about not pursuing my amendment to end funding for the war in Burkistan. That isn’t true. It’s a rumor put out by people who are pretty desperate to defeat my amendment and who know they can’t do that fair and square, on the merits.

I did meet with the Speaker of the House today just like a lot of these reports suggested I would. But the Speaker and I are old friends and we were discussing the terms under which my amendment will be considered. The Speaker has set aside __ [and here he had scribbled in the number 8] hours for debate on my amendment and we’re going to use every one of the minutes available to our side to explain to the American people why my amendment should pass.

I’ll take any questions you have, but the bottom line is that all these rumors you’ve been hearing today are wrong, just completely and totally wrong. So now it’s on to the floor and may the best man win. I know we’re on the right side of this issue and so do the American people.

I remember being surprised at just how good it was and wondering whether Happy Jack had known all along that our efforts to compromise would fail.

“I think it’s perfect, sir,” I said, smiling and handing it back to him.

“Oh, gosh, that’s pretty high praise coming from someone like you, Andy,” Happy Jack replied. “But I guess it’s not too bad for an old man like me.”

“Not very bad at all,” I responded. “And you’re not old, sir; you get better and better every day, just like a fine wine.”

The next week was totally crazy. The days just seemed to merge into one another non-stop. It was a hard time, both personally and professionally. The President went on national television and denounced the amendment. From there the rhetoric only escalated. But as far as I could tell, her words had fallen on deaf ears. Everyone seemed to be holding firm.

At a personal level, the vote couldn’t have been scheduled for a worse time. I was getting into the office early every morning and staying until midnight or later in the evening. Being away from Tommy like that was tough. But I told him what was happening and he forgave me.

Better still, he was there for me in the evenings when I got home and the two of us made love every night. Maybe it was because we had just started living together, but for me those evening sessions together never got old. Tommy had learned a lot about sex over the years and now, as he translated what he had learned into love, I was the beneficiary. I couldn’t get enough of him.

I remember telling him late one evening he must be a spy for the White House, trying to deprive me of some needed sleep in an effort to tire me out. But when he took it seriously and offered to forego sex for the duration, I told him no. I was willing to do just about anything to pass the McPherson amendment, but there was no way in hell I was giving up our time making love together to do it.

When I woke up first thing in the morning that final week before the vote, I would take a couple of moments to just lay there staring at Tommy. He would still be asleep, of course, curled up on his side. To me he looked so peaceful and innocent, the sheets wrapped around his hips, his upper body exposed to my glance. I had always thought Tommy had a beautiful body and now staring at it every morning like that made it hard to climb out of bed.

But eventually I did and then I would shower and shave; and once I had finished all of that, I would give him a kiss on his cheek before I headed off to work. My body would shudder just from the touch every time I did.

I was surprised Wednesday morning when I found him awake and already dressed.

“What are you doing up at this god forsaken hour?” I asked.

“You didn’t think I was going to let you go off this morning without giving you a kiss and wishing you good luck, did you?” he responded; “no way, no how, forget about it!”

The two of us embraced and he whispered good luck in my ear.

And then, surprising me, he was down on his knees and opening my zipper and beginning a labor of love.

I tried to tell him he didn’t need to do that, but quickly abandoned my protest. The truth is I was unusually tense that morning and what he was doing was exactly what was needed to help me relax. I just stood there and let myself enjoy what he was doing.

When he finished, he stood up and we kissed. Then he walked me down to the parking garage beneath the building. No one was around so I reached over and embraced him. He wished me the best of luck again and I said thanks. Then I kissed him and held him momentarily. I didn’t want to let go, but I had to.

“I’ll probably be late, as usual,” I said. “It’s going to take forever to get through the debate on the amendment and finish the vote; and then after that we’re going to meet with our friends and supporters to thank them.”

“Yeah, sure, tell me about it,” he replied, grinning. “I think you must have something going on the side,” he added, joking. “But I guess I can put up with it for one more night. Come home when you can. I’ll be waiting for you.”

The drive to the office was much quicker and easier now that I lived in the city, and I could tell from the silence as I walked the corridor to our office that I had arrived earlier than just about everyone else.

I began by pulling together all the documents and paper we would need as the day progressed. Then I spent a long time double-checking our last whip count with a fine-toothed comb. Later I met with our friends and supporters from the Hill to make sure everyone was clear on their assignments for the day. A similar meeting followed with the outside groups supporting our amendment. Then it was back to the office where I sat down and drafted two different versions of the statement we would need at the end of the day.

Finally, I took one last look at Happy Jack’s floor statement in support of the amendment. I had put a lot of time and energy into drafting it and he had only made a couple of small changes. I was proud of it, but I was surprised when he commended me for the fine job I had done. He hardly ever praised anyone like that.

Given everything that needed to be done, the morning had passed quickly. Finally, about thirty minutes before the House was scheduled to convene, Happy Jack and I headed over to the Capitol. We wandered up to the press gallery above the floor of the House and took a peek in. Just seeing Happy Jack’s smiling face set off a stampede among the media. Soon enough they were following us around and an impromptu press conference was underway.

“What do you think of your chances today, Happy Jack?” the reporter for the Associated Press shouted.

He had covered the House for years and knew being first and loud counted a lot when it came to gathering the news.

“That’s hard to say exactly, Bill,” Happy Jack replied. “I hear those fellows from the White House are dangling some mighty pretty trinkets in front of some of the Members these days; bridges, roads, and a lot more from what I hear. You know how hard it is for us Congress critters to resist that kind of temptation, Bill.”

“But I’ll tell you this. If the Members vote their consciences rather than their interests today, I think our chances are excellent.”

And that’s how it went for the next thirty minutes or so. The questions came rapidly, but Happy Jack handled them easily and in a way that left the press corps admiring the man. I knew their stories later that day would reflect that.

I had nothing to do while all of this was going on, of course, so I kept my eyes on the floor of the House.

When no one is present, the House chamber brims with majesty and tradition and can leave you just standing there in awe of the place. But now the House had been called into session. In sharp contrast with the slower pace and quieter atmosphere of the Senate, the chamber was coming alive with activity and the noise level was rapidly rising.

While the young boys and girls who serve as pages scurried around the floor delivering messages to the Members, I just stood there watching as the daily routines – the prayer, the approval of the Journal, the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, and more – were played out.

Eventually the time set aside for one minute speeches arrived and, as we had prearranged, a number of our friends and supporters spoke in support of the amendment. A smaller number, mostly Republicans, spoke against it.

Finally, the defense appropriations bill was called up for consideration and I knew it was time for Happy Jack and me to head down to the floor.

For me, being on the floor was a privilege. It wasn’t something that happened every day and that made it special. I was only on the floor now because Happy Jack was the author of the most important amendment about to be considered. He wanted me there because I knew where everyone stood on the last whip count, the one that had shown us winning 219 to 213.

Everyone who ever visits the floor of the House comes away with some visual image of the place they’ll still be able to recall years later.

For some it’s the large American flag behind the rostrum, the podium from which the Speaker or his designated representative presides when the House is in session, or the large portraits of George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette that frame the rostrum. Other eyes are drawn to the small marble bas-reliefs of the twenty-three lawgivers like Lycurgus and Hammurabi that hang on the walls above the floor.

But for me it was something much smaller, an injunction from Daniel Webster engraved in marble that I had always thought should set the tone for the place.

Let us develop the resources of our land, call forth its powers, build up its institutions, promote all its great interests, and see whether we also, in our day and generation, may not perform something worthy to be remembered.

I remember wondering momentarily whether anything I did on the floor today would be worthy of being remembered. But then the debate on our amendment began and I turned my attention to more pressing matters.

Happy Jack kicked off the debate for our side with the statement I had prepared for him. Ordinarily, he was pretty low keyed when it came to addressing his colleagues. But today he spoke passionately and with an eloquence I had never seen before from the man. Even though I knew it wouldn’t change any votes, I was impressed.

As the author of the amendment, Happy Jack also controlled the four hours of debate allocated to our side. You had to give everyone who wanted to speak in favor of the amendment some time, of course. At the same time, everyone knew some Members spoke more powerfully and eloquently than others.

Consequently, Happy Jack and I had spent a long time together deciding who would speak, in what order, and for how long. Part of my job was making sure that the different Members got to the floor at the right time.

Another part of the job was listening carefully to those who spoke against the amendment. As they spoke, I scribbled notes that Happy Jack or some of our friends and supporters could use later in the debate to rebut what was being said. A lot of it was nonsense or just a mindless appeal to the kind of false patriotism that had damaged the country so badly in recent years. But you had to respond no matter how absurd the point being made might be.

And so that’s how it had gone for the next eight hours, the two opposing sides alternating time and making their case for the historical record as well as for the American people.

I had been right to warn Tommy. The debate seemed to drag on forever. But eventually the pleading voices fell silent and now a different atmosphere began to take hold on the floor as the voting commenced and then moved relentlessly toward its final climax.

And now we were counting down the last few minutes of the roll call vote on the amendment that had consumed the last three years of my life. There were less than two minutes left and we were ahead by three votes.

I remember glancing up at the electronic tally board and then looking around frantically to see whether any of those who hadn’t voted were on the floor. But by then it was obvious the leadership was corralling every Member as they entered the chamber and taking them over to the Speaker’s office for a final personal pitch.

Precisely because I knew just how little we could do in these waning moments of the vote, my stomach was churning. Everything about the process favored the Administration. The White House staff was out in full force, as were all the usual suspects from the military-industrial complex. They couldn’t afford to lose this vote. There was still too much money to be made off of the war and they were determined to extract every last dime they could.

No one entering the chamber could escape their pleas. The pleas were made on the merits largely, but everyone knew campaign contributions were also at stake. And yet the real effort was being played out in the Speaker’s office. I knew the Speaker was over there making the final pitch himself, and he had Harlan Lane there as well to offer whatever inducements might be needed to bring a recalcitrant Member around.

We had people outside the doors making our case as well, but the Members were paying less attention to us. Most of our friends and supporters were from groups that didn’t have serious campaign money to spread around. The truth is, there was nothing much we could offer the Members and everyone knew that. In this case, virtue was going to have to be its own reward.

Roll call votes like the one underway are normally taken by electronic device in the House. A number of vote stations are positioned around the chamber and the Members vote by inserting their personal voting cards into a slot and then pressing the appropriate button to indicate whether they wish to vote yea, nay or present.

Usually Members leave the floor quickly after casting their vote. But today a lot of the Members were milling about in small groups talking to one another. There was a chance history was about to be made and they wanted to be there if it was.

Others were just staring up at the electronic tally board. Like spectators at a horse race, they were waiting to catch any surprises that might take place. But today there hadn’t been any surprises so far and that was welcome from my point of view.

Still, it was the very closeness of the vote that was holding the attention of the Members. It was holding mine as well. I kept staring up at the board as the final votes were cast. We had squirreled away some of our votes for precisely this situation. Every time the Democratic leadership produced one new vote against our amendment, we countered with one in its favor.

And now it was down to twenty seconds, fifteen, ten, and then it was over. I looked up at the board and smiled. There were 216 votes in favor of our amendment and 213 opposed. That was very close to the 219 votes our whip count had predicted for the amendment. We had won!

Or at least I thought we had won. I kept waiting for the vote to be announced. But no announcement was forthcoming and finally it dawned on me. The House leadership was holding the vote open in a desperate final effort to turn our victory into defeat. It didn’t happen very often, but there was a lot at stake on this vote and the leadership was determined to use every power at their command.

I walked over to Happy Jack.

“They’re holding the vote open, sir,” I said.

Then I berated myself for being so stupid. He knew what was happening. He didn’t need me to tell him.

“I know, Andy,” he replied. “There’s nothing we can do about that except hope our supporters hold firm.”

Happy Jack was right about that, of course, but it worried me nonetheless. We knew two members were absent that evening. They had been paired, one in favor and one opposed to our amendment. We also knew there was still one vacancy waiting to be filled as a result of a death. That left three Members missing in action and I knew who they were: Barnwell, Fisher, and Graham.

Each of their staffs had claimed they were with us, but I had my doubts, at least about Barnwell. The guy just couldn’t be trusted and everyone knew it. Fisher and Graham were publicly on record back in their districts in support of our amendment so I couldn’t fathom why they hadn’t voted yet. Both of them had reputations for being principled and both of their districts were solidly opposed to the war.

Graham had repeatedly told Happy Jack personally he was with us so I wasn’t too worried about him. Even if the leadership persuaded him not to vote and Barnwell and Fisher voted against us, we would still win.

As the minutes passed, the whole thing began to wear on my nerves. I made my way over to Wade Walker, who was just standing there near the rostrum, arms folded, looking bemused.

“This is wrong, Wade,” I told him. “You know it and I know it. This is a travesty. We won fair and square. Announce the vote for Christ’s sake!”

“You know what they say, Andy,” Wade replied, smiling at me. “It ain’t over until the Fat Lady sings.”

“Screw you, Wade,” I replied, trying unsuccessfully to restrain my anger. It wasn’t his fault after all.

“Holding a vote open to beat the Republicans? I could understand that. But holding it open to beat a majority of your own party? That’s about as low as it gets, Wade. I hope you’re proud of yourself.”

Then I just turned and walked away.

I knew I shouldn’t have been that harsh on Wade. I tried to remind myself it wasn’t his call. But I had to get it off of my chest and I knew Wade wouldn’t take it personally. He was used to being berated by someone or other. It was part of his job.

As the minutes continued to tick off, I reflected on the past couple of months. So much had happened and it was all kind of confusing. I had met Tommy just as spring was making its appearance in Washington and now we were finally living together. I sensed he hadn’t opened up emotionally to me all the way yet. But he was trying. He really was. I couldn’t ask for more from the kid and I loved him.

All of this and more flashed through my mind. Then I looked up and saw the three Members I had been searching for walk through the door and head over to separate voting machines to insert their cards. I looked over at the clock. They had held the vote open for fifty minutes. Fifty freaking minutes! It was obscene.

I looked up and saw three lights flash red simultaneously. And then the presiding officer was speaking immediately.

“On this vote, the yeas are 216, the nays are 216, and the amendment is not agreed to.”

The Leader moved quickly to lay a motion to reconsider on the table.

And that was it. It was over. We had lost on a tied vote fifty minutes after the time allowed for voting had expired! To me the whole thing was incredible.

I looked over at Happy Jack. He just nodded at me. I couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted to scream. But I couldn’t, of course, so I just walked over to him.

“As you know, sir, I reserved the Cannon Caucus Room as a place where all of our friends and supporters could meet after the vote,” I told him. “You need to come over with me and thank all the Members and staff and outside groups for all the hard work they put in on this. I’ve drafted a few remarks for you, sir.”

Then I handed him the second sheet of paper I had drafted that morning, the one with remarks in the event we lost. I had already tossed the other sheet away. We didn’t need it any more. Happy Jack looked over the remarks quickly and then just nodded at me again. With that the two of us walked out of the chamber, down the steps of the Capitol, and across the street to the Cannon House Office Building.

The Caucus Room was mobbed by then. People were literally pushing and shoving in an effort to get into the room, but it was already completely filled and people were packed together inside like sardines. If you know the place, you know just how many people were there. But somehow they made room for Happy Jack to pass through to the podium we had improvised for him and I just followed along behind.

I stepped up to the podium and introduced the Congressman. He pretty much used the remarks I had prepared for him. Then he was gone, exiting out the back way. I think it had gotten to him as much as it had to me. I could hear it in his voice as he thanked everyone for their help and assistance.

By then people were crying and hugging each other. No one could believe what had just happened.

I stepped up to the podium again.

“Except for my personal thanks, I don’t really have anything to add to what the Congressman just told you,” I said, trying my best to remain calm. “I just want you to know we’ll be holding our regular meetings for House staff and for our non-governmental friends and supporters next Tuesday.”

“We may have lost the battle today, but the fight continues; the dream of a better America never dies. We need to start preparing for next year when we’ll be offering our amendment again. Thanks for all your help and support. I’ll see you on Tuesday.”

Then I stepped down from the podium and started to walk toward the front door.

It came as a surprise when they started clapping and it was too much for me to handle just then in any event. I was having a hard time holding back the tears so I stepped up my pace and walked out of the room as quickly as possible. As I walked toward the circular door that led out to Independence Avenue, I could still hear the applause.

It didn’t help.

I had just started walking down the street toward the Rayburn building when I saw him approaching. I started running to get away, but he caught up with me and grabbed my arm.

“Hold on, Andy,” Wade said. “I want to congratulate you.”

“For what?” I responded. “For fighting the good fight? Is that what you’re about to tell me, Wade? That we fought the good fight and can be proud of ourselves? We lost, Wade. You won. And now more kids are going to needlessly die or be crippled for life because you won,” I added, only a little ashamed of myself for trying to make him feel guilty.

“You’re wrong about that, Andy,” Wade replied. “You didn’t lose today. You won. I know you don’t believe it right now, but you will soon enough. There’s no way the President can continue this war after that kind of vote.”

“I mean, we put it off for more than three months for Christ’s sake. Both the White House and the leadership worked the Members hard for the entire three months. We provided so many inducements to so many Members the budget won’t be balanced for the next century, Andy. And after all of that and holding the vote open for fifty minutes, we won on a tie vote.”

“She’s a smart politician, Andy,” Wade continued, “a lot smarter than either of us. She can read the handwriting on the wall. You won’t have to offer that amendment of yours next year because she’ll find a way to change course once again.”

“Count on it, Andy,” he said, releasing his grip on my arm and smiling at me. “Now go home and have some fun for a change.”

I thought about all of that on the walk back to the office, wondering whether it was wishful thinking or whether Wade could possibly be right after all. At first I thought maybe he was right. President Clay was pretty savvy, no doubt about it. It wouldn’t surprise me if she found a way to change her position again.

But the more I thought about it, the more I decided Wade was wrong. Oh yeah, sure, maybe President Clay would get us out of Burkistan; but there would be another foreign adventure waiting to replace it soon enough.

Perhaps it would be Iran. If not, those we called leaders but weren’t would pick some other god forsaken nation that needed America’s enlightenment and guidance. Maybe it would take a month, a year, or a bit longer. But deep down inside I knew there would be another foreign adventure soon enough.

There always was.

The imperial itch had become much too strong. America would need to scratch it again and again, and probably a lot sooner than anyone would guess. It was a cancer eating away at the country and not many people understood that or cared. If they ever understood, it would be much later, long after the chickens had come home to roost.

When I got back to the office, I looked through my messages. Then I set them aside. It was after 10 p.m. and I remember laughing when I told myself I was going to take the rest of the day off. As I walked out the door, I could see two solitary figures approaching. It turned out to be Nolan and Josh.

“We’re sorry, Andy,” Nolan said, “really sorry. Both of us were over in the gallery today listening to the debate and then over at the Cannon Caucus Room. I don’t know exactly how, but both of us want you to know we’re going to do our best to help out next year with the amendment. In the meantime, Josh and I are heading over to Bullfeathers for a late dinner. I imagine you didn’t get to eat today and we thought you might like to join us.”

“Not tonight, Nolan,” I said. “Maybe we could get together this weekend and do something fun for a change. I think Tommy would like that; and I would too.”

“Sure, I understand,” Nolan replied. “I’ll give you a call later this week.”

While he was saying all of this, Josh had wrapped his arms around me and given me a hug.

“Keep hope alive,” he whispered.

And then they were gone and I was on my way down to the garage.

I’m not really sure how I got back to our place that evening. The car must have driven itself because my mind was somewhere else entirely. I remember parking the car and taking the private elevator up to the penthouse level we shared. Just as he promised, Tommy was there waiting for me.

I was a little surprised when I looked around the place. The television was turned to C-SPAN and it was obvious he had been there all day watching the whole thing, all eight hours of debate and then the vote we had lost. From the look of things, it wouldn’t have surprised me if Sean and Teddy had been there as well. If so, they were gone now, leaving Tommy and me alone.

I looked at him and then abandoned my effort to hold them back any longer. The tears started flowing, just silently, without any sobbing.

Tommy walked over and hugged me.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered.

Later, after I had seemingly cried myself out, he took my hand and led me up to the bedroom. We lay down on the bed together and he continued to hug me for what seemed like forever. Eventually his lips pressed against mine, but gently, very gently.

I had been thinking about how I had failed all those beautiful boys like Jesse again so it came as a surprise when I looked down and saw I was completely naked. I should have known better with Tommy, but it always surprised me.

He tore open the wrapper, then rolled over and looked into my eyes. Before I even knew he had done it, the condom was on me and Tommy had rolled over on to his back.

It took a moment for it to sink in.

Tommy was offering me something he had never offered before and now I had to decide whether to accept the gift he was willing to share with me.

“No, Tommy, I can’t do this,” I started to protest. “You’re a . . .”

He placed a finger over my lips until I fell silent.

“Tonight I want to experience that intimacy thing you keep talking about, Andy. I’ve been looking for the right person for this all my life, just like I’ve been waiting my whole life to say this to someone.”

“I love you, Andy.”

[The End]

32 thoughts on “Chapter 52

  1. Stupendous! Bravo! Great job, Kit. Thank you for all your work. Enjoy your break and then please come back and WOW us again.

    1. Again, thanks for sharing the journey with me, George. Week after week you were there. It’s been a trip I’ve enjoyed. We’ll see what comes next if and when I get the batteries recharged.

  2. Andy’s assessment of the war(in a foreign land) and the politics(in the USA) is exactly what it is. One war will end and the politicians will find another somewhere again. The wars that the US are involved in seem to be all about money rather than what is right.

    I’ve greatly enjoyed the story. Pls “recharge” your batteries and continue to write. You have the talent to keep your readers anxiously waiting for your postings.

    1. Thanks, AGG. You’ve been another of my dedicated companions on this trip and I’ve benefited greatly from having your encouragement and support. I’m looking forward to getting away. When I get back, I’ll have to clean the joint up and see what comes next for the Café Palermo and its illustrious clientele 🙂

    1. You’re welcome, Jordan. I’m glad you enjoyed the story and thank you for taking the time to let me know that.

      If I post another, don’t be so shy 🙂

  3. Some people just have to win. It doesn’t matter over what, they just can’t loose. I know this was only a story but it was just so believable. I just hope the guys live a long and happy life.

    1. Thanks Steve. Whether we’ll see these particular guys again remains to be seen. I can’t say for sure.

      But if we never see them again, you (and every other reader) can decide for yourself what comes next for the guys. Whatever story about them you decide to weave may only take place in your mind. But without a doubt that’s the right story for you.

  4. Kit, thank you for your generosity – your 52nd consecutive weekly gift to us. Sure, we grew to trust the weekly dose of sheer entertainment, but you also helped us grow through serious consideration of thought-provoking social and political issues. The story was intimate but it had a broad scope. The ending was gratifying. Lots of strong characters. I’m so happy that Tommy and Andy each found the love they so needed. But Andy and Josh are heroic for their strength of character, their courage, and their moral compasses. Even Happy Jack, the Speaker and his aide, Wade, give us hope that Washington may yet relearn how to tackle important matters and get things done to better our lives. You obviously have an insider’s familiarity with Washington DC and Capital Hill. I hope to learn more about that in your next book. Best wishes, Kit.

    1. And what about Nolan, Dean? I mean, jeez, he set the whole thing in motion, but the poor dude gets no love at all 🙂

      I know. We’ve discussed that before privately so I’m just kidding.

      Well, the thing is, I’m running out of time and running out of words so I’ll just say thanks to another one of my long-time friends and supporters. I don’t know whether I would have made it without you. But it made it a lot more pleasant knowing all of you were there for me.

      Assuming there is a next story, I suppose it’s possible that it might be set in Washington and might feature someone connected to the Hill; and yet not be about the Hill or Washington, at least not as much as Connected. How’s that for whetting the appetite?

      Kit grins.

  5. Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!

    As you know from my emails, Kit, I’ve followed your wonderful story and loved it all along (though I’ve failed to always keep up and not been very helpful with comments over here, for which I’m sorry). There are just so many things I’d like to say about the story and your mastery of the telling, but I’ll save most of that for more emails when time permits. For now, I’ll just say that so much of your story rings true and conveys genuine passion. It’s great to be able to get to know characters so well and to really get inside so much that they experience. The story is among the very best, if not the THE best, of this genre that I have ever read. I have to confess that I even dragged my feet some before reading the concluding chapters because I feared what could be coming and, moreover, just didn’t want to see it end.

    I, too, hope this isn’t the last we see of these young men, or of the several others to whom you introduced us, or any other stories you may write. But I know you deserve a rest so, for now, if the story must end I couldn’t have asked for a better ending. For one thing, Tommy’s action and words directly responded to one of the concerns that I had, and tied things up nicely … for now.

    Thanks for everything you do.

    Sage

    1. Thanks, Sage. Knowing how worried you were waiting for some tragedy to happen, I’m happy to see you can finally breath easy 🙂

      Assuming I can find the time and energy to write another story, I think I may need some time away away from most of these characters. Perhaps some could make a cameo appearance in a future story, but for now I’m comfortable letting Nolan and Josh, Tommy and Andy, and even Sean and Teddy spend a lot more of their time alone together in the bedroom 🙂

      I suppose they could decide to get out of bed down the road (although god only knows why); but, like I said, they’ve been through a lot and I think they need some time alone by themselves.

  6. True to form, KitKat, you provided another great chapter. I am very sad that, at this point, the story has ended. You made these character seem so very real to me that at times I would find myself thinking about them through out the week and missing them if it took me a while to read the next chapter. Thank-you again for everything, KitKat! I hope your rest time is all that you need it to be and that your batteries get recharged.

    1. The characters can be as real as you want them to be, Todd. Sometimes I find myself talking to them myself. They understand me better than anyone and it helps knowing they’re my friends.

  7. It was really a great story; loved it from the beginning to the end. Not only the love story was great, i also appreciated the way the US democracy is described. The anti-war line is exactly how i feel about it. I myself apposed also against participation of Holland in these terrible wars in Asia.

    Hope to read more form u soon,

    Thanks for the beautiful story.

    Hans, Den Haag, Netherlands

    1. Thanks, Hans. It’s amazing the number of countries the U.S. drags along with it into these foreign adventures we like undertaking, as if having other nations on board makes a stupid war any less stupid.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the story. In the end, I think it was really several stories for the price of one so I guess I’ll have to double the price for any future story I undertake 🙂

      We’ll have to see what the future brings in terms of more stories. Right now I’m just trying to get caught up with everything that piled up while I was away.

  8. Kit, I guess I’m addicted. I came poking around Chapter 52 again tonight hoping I might at least find more comments if not a surprise postscript from you. Alas, it’s only me wandering around in the Palermo netherworld.

    I hope you are enjoying some free time and fun adventures.

    But if you’re bored, talk to me about this Eric Holder thing. I understand the political battle that is occurring now, but I don’t know what to think about the “Fast…” guns for narco’s operation. I havent read much about it so I can’t tell whether is was a reasonable effort that went bad or a cluster f_ _ _ from the start.

    If you’re NOT bored, then tell us what’s so fun and engaging! And what does he look like? Lol.

    Best of everything, Kit. Muah.

    Dean

    1. Boy, I sure wish I was that addicting in real life, Dean. Alas, I have to confess that no one is breaking down the door trying to drag me back to their man cave so they can do nasty things to me 🙂

      And, yes, this place sure looks pretty deserted, doesn’t it? How soon we’re forgotten. Slam, bam, thank you, mam, and then all you’re left with is the memories 🙂

      Oh, well, that’s probably for the best. It’ll force me to think about what I want to do next; at least once I wake up and feel human again.

      I’m not really up on the Eric Holder business, Dean. I gave up on Holder a long time ago. To me, he’s been a really terrible Attorney General and I generally think Executive officials have a duty to hand over documents to Congress.

      But how can anyone have any confidence at all in any member of the House GOP? You really are talking about the Guardians of Plutocracy. A pox on both their houses I guess.

      I am bored. I have nothing fun or engaging going on. I’d post some nude pictures of myself here, but I don’t have many readers to begin with and would have none if I did that 🙂

      I did have a fun (but tiring) time in California. I didn’t run into Brian Wilson, Mike Love, or any of the rest of the Beach Boys though. I guess they’re touring together at the moment.

      But the sun, the surf and the beach were fun; and I even managed to catch part of the San Francisco Pride celebration. That was a trip! So much love in such a very small space. What a turn on!

      But I think the best part for me was just as I was arriving. I saw these two good looking dudes walking away from the celebration and they were just holding hands and that really brought home what Connected was all about, at least for me.

      I never saw their faces, but they could have been Nolan and Josh or Tommy and Andy. And they were happy and that was just so overpowering for me. It made the whole trip just watching them disappear into the distance.

  9. Finally, the culmination of an excellent heartfelt story that you put a lot of time into, Kit. I for one appreciate every moment that you put into it to make it such a wonderful read. I also look forward to more, when you have the time. This is your hallmark, so enjoy it. Your reward is the number of readers that you were able to lull with such a wonderful story, especially those who took the time to comment. I hope they filled your inbox to the brim. Thank you so much.

    1. Thanks Arran. I probably heard from seventy to eighty readers along the way (although one troubled soul may have written under multiple pseudonyms to harass me). Beyond that, I’m just guessing that maybe I had 400 readers at the max for the story. That’s a pretty small group and it’s hard to know how many actually read the whole thing.

      But it was a good audience by-and-large and I appreciated the support and encouragement that so many provided. Maybe some others will stumble into the web site by accident or chance and the readership will broaden. Or maybe I’ll eventually do a rewrite because I definitely have ideas for how the story could be expanded.

      In the end, Connected was probably several stories that I probably should have broken into different parts. That would have allowed me to do more. But, like I said, I’m reasonably content with the version I posted for now.

      What comes next? The $64 question, no doubt about it. I’ve got a couple of ideas. We’ll have to see whether I can take them anywhere. But it’s hard for me to believe anything I do in the future will be as good as Connected. So you guys will have to cut me a break if I do make another attempt.

  10. Just a short note to say “Thank you” for a job well done. I know you planned on going on a break after posting this chapter and when you get back if you would like to drop a note to me via email please do.

    James

    1. As you can see, James, I survived. I just feel kind of dead after my trip to California 🙂

      At the moment, I don’t really have much more to say than what I’ve posted in response to the last four comments. I hope all is well with you and all of the rest of the people who offered their encouragement and support along the way.

  11. Back looking for more as well…miss the guys but i’m sure whatever characters and whatever story you decide to share with us next will be just as great or even better! 🙂

    1. Um, well, it’s nice of you not to put any added pressure on me, Jordan 🙂

      There may be more, but it won’t be soon. I’ll really start thinking about it in detail next week. I have some ideas, but whether I can put them together remains to be seen. It’s harder than it looks, that’s for sure. I seem to be stuck in my head about how to get from here to there.

    1. Thanks! That’s high praise coming from someone who gets sad or upset at the end of a story or book if it was/is good. I’ll have more to say about that via e-mail sometime this week.

      Of course, I’m not sure it is an ending. There could be a lot more since all of the characters are still young. But, as with real life, there could be some tough times ahead for some or all of them.

      Having finished one saga on a positive note, are readers ready for another that might bring them low?

  12. I’ve read thro the night almost on this. Living in uk I have never understood why Americans cannot see that too much of what they do is from an imperialist agenda. We did it when we had an empire and truthfully we still act as if we still have one at times. We forget that our prides costs lives. The lives of our young service personnel along with other young people in the countries we are seeking to ‘help’.

    The relationship side of the story was great and v moving. Looking forward to reading another story. I am so glad David Lee suggested we read this.

    1. Thanks for that very generous and positive review, Harry. I’m glad you enjoyed the story. Being my first, I think Connected will always be my favorite story in some ways. But I hope you’ll give Summer Boys, Summer Dreams a look as well.

      It doesn’t have the same kind of big political message running through it as Connected, but in a quiet way it has its own message as well and one that I think is especially important for people who are gay. And it was just such a pleasure to write! I had a lot of fun putting it together.

      There’s also With Apologies Mr. Dickens. It’s a better read around Christmas though and I’m still not certain it succeeds all that well. But sometimes you learn just by struggling with something.

  13. I just ran across this story a couple of days ago and have been reading it every spare minute I have had. What a great story!! Great characters and character development. I loved your true outlook on Washington and your outlook on homeless youth. What more can I say other than great story and great writing.

    1. Thanks, Paul. As an author, you can’t get a better endorsement and I appreciate it very much.

      I’d like to encourage you to read the rest of my stories, but I’m afraid they won’t hold up by comparison 🙂

      Having said that, I’ll take the risk because I could use a lot more readers like you.

  14. I enjoyed this story! Here is a little info on the differences between the Republican and Democratic parties:

    [link deleted by Kit]

    1. Glad you enjoyed the story, Sammy; although I’ll confess I don’t understand how anyone who genuinely enjoyed the story could possibly have included that link you proposed to share with other readers.

      In an effort to expose the racist past of the Democratic party, which no one doubts, the wacko bird whose video you linked to completely misses the rather more important truth for those of us actually alive today; i.e., that today’s racists and know-nothings flock to the Republican party, not the Democratic party. Like Scott Walker, they don’t know whether Obama is a Christian because they don’t want to offend the racists and know-nothings they count on to vote Republican.

      Like many of the rest of the GOP Presidential candidates, they don’t know whether evolution is rooted in facts or merely another theory, no better or worse than creationism; and they certainly don’t know whether climate change is real or caused in part by human activity because they have absolutely no respect for science or reason and are basically brainless trolls.

      Like that bozo on that video clip you proposed to share with others who believes Calvin Coolidge was a better President than Franklin Roosevelt (ha! ha! ha! good one) and can’t even get his facts right in the process, they are reactionaries, not conservatives; propagandists, not truth seekers; and ideologues, not serious historians. And pretty stupid on top of that to be perfectly honest about it.

      As you can see, I’m trying to be generous in my assessment.

      But since this is my site, after all, not a venue for the great right-wing propaganda machine that has done so much to destroy everything America stands for, I’ve deleted that link along with your last name.

      But, other than that, I don’t have a problem with anything you said 🙂

      And feel free to e-mail me if you’d like to pursue it further.

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