The following story is for adults and contains graphic descriptions of sexual contact between adolescent and adult males and the power imbalance of these relationships. Like so many of my stories, this is a voyage and return.
If you are a minor, then it is illegal for you to read this story. If you find the subject objectionable, then read no further. All the characters, events and settings are the product of my overactive imagination. I hope you like it and feel free to respond.
Fourteen runs through five progressions, with frequent interludes. If you would like to comment, contact me at ail.
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Thanks so much to Philip Marks for his contributions and the background conversations that bring the story onto the page. I also want to add a shout-out to Mischief Night who answered my call for a proofreader. Thanks to those who keep Philip and me updated on your interest.
V.C. Bird International Airport, Antigua
December 21, 2018, 9:11 p.m. Atlantic Standard Time
Nearly every flight into the new, very modern-gleaming V.C. Bird International Airport is technically an international flight. Most are small private props or slightly larger jet or prop charter flights bringing perhaps a few, or a few dozen, passengers to and from other islands, all of which are by definition international flights since everything save lonely Barbuda is another country. Most of those islands depend on this regional facility for air travel to larger and more distant islands, or out of the Caribbean entirely. The comings and goings, while often small, are punctuated regularly with the much bigger Boeing 737s and Airbus 220s from Miami, from Caracas, from Panama City, from Veracruz, bringing not dozens but hundreds of passengers. V.C. Bird is well connected, you might say.
But traffic to Antigua even at the height of the tourist season is modest enough that four jetways are sufficient for the main concourse. When there’s an overload they can open up two more ground arrival gates. Small craft mostly use a separate building for arrivals and since many are in-transit connections, a lot of the passengers never go through customs and immigration, they simply move to another gate, another aircraft, a journey onward.
All of which is to explain why there is no sign to say “International Arrivals” over the vaulted three-story central hall; it is just “Arrivals” and there are no luggage carousels at all since those are located inside the customs area.
The sound of a steel drum band piped in on the loudspeakers sets a festive mood, for this is the peak tourist season in the Caribbean and being the Friday before Christmas, Bird has been running at near capacity. So it’s a relatively large crowd in the hall waiting for passengers to come through the double sliding doors marked “Customs.” Many in the hall are greeters from the various hotels and resorts, holding up signs to announce their presence for well-heeled customers; but this close to the holiday no few are individuals are here to greet family and friends in a more personal way.
Jeremy Gates is one such, a youngster well in the midst of adolescent transformation to manhood, carefully dressed in what he thinks passes for “dress-up” – beige chino cotton shorts and an ocean blue sort of multicolored shirt (with buttons and a collar) bought specifically for the occasion.
It would not be a stretch to call this the most important arrival of his life since the one in Martinique, times four – and Jeremy is really worried about how it is going to go. Martinique should reassure. The FBI interview was hedged with reassurances. It would be fine, if he said the right things, he would not be forced home, but he had his doubts. This reunion comes to him. Everyone says they understand, but Jeremy worries.
He believes he has outgrown the naive child in Patrick and John’s Bronco; hyperventilating into awareness that the Hershey after was evaporating. This is his dangerous pattern. Sure, and he was headed West, Far East with Levi; and he was wrong. Trust (fucking) Cordell, still trusting, still stupid. San Diego, then home after, but that didn’t happen. Now, Jeremy stands tensely, unconsciously shifting his weight from foot to foot in new deck shoes.
In control now, Jeremy assures himself. In control, like at the summit of Cosiguina in Nicaragua with Daniel. Living the perfect now on Anton’s Sirocco, finally certain Chillicothe was not his after. He was on his own journey, and he was fine with that. He was ready for that, and then he wasn’t.
The trajectory changes, and the truth he learned is he is never quite prepared. Chillicothe is stepping through the sliding doors, and Jeremy feels the zip ties, quite apprehensive; because this might just be a Luxor-Winnebago-surprise, or a rocking Blazer bringing him to San Ysidro. So yeah, Jeremy’s heart is in his throat.
There’s a trickle of passengers through the door, all false alarms, until, finally, he sees a familiar face. “Sophie!! Sophie!!” he waves excitedly at the young woman. He couldn’t have asked for a better first arrival, the one person he knows is going to be pleased with him, will make no demands except honesty. No judgments from Sophie he is sure.
“Well Tēnā koe Jem, you are a sight for sore eyes, boy!! You’ve grown! Give us a look, girl.” Sophie stops just short of Jeremy and looks him up and down. “Āe, been wanting to see you!”
They are hugging, and Sophie plants a kiss on his lips that resurrects the cabin-passion on Graham Sumner’s Born to Run in San Diego. Jeremy returns it. She is right; he’s a little taller than Sophie now. Then he abruptly breaks the lip-lock, steps back forcing a space between them; for his grandfather is next out the door.
Jeremy is of two minds about this reunion. He loves his grandfather but Jeremy knows just as surely as Sophie will not judge, that Grandpa Herb is the sort for whom judgments come as natural as rain. Jeremy expects quite a lot of judgment to ensue on this visit. He is acutely aware he’s not living up to his family’s after expectations.
“Grandpa!” the boy calls in a false-hearty voice.
Herb notes the pitch is lower than when last they met, July, before the day? “Jeremy!”
The old man inspects this unexpectedly taller, older version of his grandson. An unbidden and unexpected emotion sweeps him, hits hard. Herb looks away, pauses to fuss a second with his roll-aboard suitcase and, bungee-corded carry-on. The handle slips from his trembling hand as he ostentatiously removes his rather severe black-rimmed glasses, pats for his pocket hanky, then elaborately wipes the lenses, stalling. This buys him time to tell himself to stiffen his spine and let Jeremy see an emotional old fool. Composed, he dons the glasses again and offers a measured smile.
An uncertain charade ensues as the generations reunite.
“Well you are…,” a pause, “you’ve grown, boy.” His grandson is not merely taller, his voice lower; Herb has a visceral recognition that the year-plus between them has been filled with all manner of growing.
Jeremy’s mouth sets in a Greyson-line his mother would recognize instantly. Grandpa Herb is in the room; a compliment or complaint? In Jeremy’s mind, there is fear that there may have been too much space, time, growing, and revelation. Has everything unmoored him from his grandfather?
Emancipation, that has been made abundantly clear. Herb acknowledges this with an extended hand. Greet the boy – no, greet, as men. Jeremy, confused by the shifting body language, leans a little back, ever so slightly away, and extends his hand for the dry and formal clasp.
Sophie will have none of this, “Bloody hell Herb, hug the boy for god’s sake,” she demands, “haven’t you missed him?”
Herbert has a flash of resentment for Sophie’s brash meddling, but his mind flashes back to the four long months after the boy’s disappearance, before they knew he was alive; the darkest days of his life, when he could not contain his helpless rage at the bewildering loss of his only grandchild. Without further thought Herb grabs, encircles Jeremy, recalling the spontaneity and warmth of a before embrace.
Before they can decently part, another pair of arms encircle them both, as Jeremy’s grandmother Mary adds to the hug.
Now everyone seems to be sniffling but no one wants to actually cry.
That is, until his father and mother step out of customs, she pushes a stroller with what seems to him a preposterously tiny baby. It is his father first, the strong hug like they shared in Martinique. “So good to see you in the flesh again,” Greyson tells him.
Then Mom is there, and Jeremy must contain-restrain all that he feels. Remy’s heartbeat hug, can’t let you go again, and when the pressure eases, she looks at him, “I should have come.”
“No, it’s okay,” Jeremy denies. He did not want her in Martinique. The two parents together would have overwhelmed him as this family-crowd is doing now. His mom’s apology is too much, it sparks his own remorse. “Both ways,” is all he can choke out. He has known since Bull Shoals shores that he owed it to her to come home.
“No more of that, I’m here.”
“Yes,” and feelings breach levees.
Afterward, Jeremy’s recollection is that everyone must hug and talk simultaneously, it is all chaotic, a whirlwind, and most of all overwhelming. He abandons his intended role as local tour guide and shuts down, becomes an observer, allows his father to assert the accustomed role of leader as the group transitions from arrival to departure, in their rental cars.
December 22, 2018
He is still in Gravity’s salon, sick that nothing more can be done. On deck, everyone is getting off into a lifeboat. He can’t follow until he has searched the flooding wreckage for the damning Beretta Nano, and he can’t ask anyone for help, because they should get off the floundering boat.
You threw it into the water, remember? You can’t be trusted with it. He struggles to a companionway shrunk to the dimensions of the V-berth hatch. If he contorts himself just right, he might be able to squeeze through; shape-shift. It is a losing race with the rising water. Sophie comes back and holds his head up above the rising water, then says “I’ve gotta go, Jem, you should learn underwater photography.”
The immediacy of his dream shifts, as dreams do when the mind drifts up to consciousness. Some agency returns, and he fast-forwards-avoids the unpleasantness of drowning.
The Zodiac with his family heads toward the land. Gravity drifts away in another direction on an airless current. He was so wrong. It has not sunk. He cannot abandon it to Raúl and José. The Hikari knife goes between his teeth. He starts swimming toward his boat as the current tugs him back toward his family.
Jeremy opens his eyes to the ribbed roof. The couch beneath him is damp with his perspiration. He blinks. This is not Da Nang and he is uncertain. He is disoriented-uncertain, like in the movie Inception. Jeremy is not sure if he has kicked himself up the levels to full consciousness, or if this is still dreaming. He has woken in strange circumstances before.
He has dreamed he was still in an unchanged before, often enough. Be careful what you wish for dreams where this Fourteen after has been banished. He needs a totem – a top that spins indefinitely in a dream – to test if he is indeed in the real world. The dream fragments float up to be incinerated by consciousness. Nothing remains but anxiety about his boat.
Jeremy walks down the street past St. Paul’s Anglican Church, immune to the early morning bugs. He crosses Matthew’s Road and continues down to Cherry Hill Bay. Security lights pop on as he passes a well-heeled bungalow edging on the street. Beyond the trees to his left are the two-story units of the Catamaran Resort.
As Jeremy walks down to the beach, the constellation of mast lights from the Catamaran Marina welcomes him back to Falmouth Harbor. Shekerley Boatyard and Marina’s lights shine modestly to his right. He takes a turn, walks on.
This early, the marina’s only movement is the swell and the way it tugs the lines of resting craft, coaxing them to wake then scatter out of the bay like a flock of gulls hunting morning breakfast. The only sounds are the water below the weathered docks and the parts of this boat-service machine clicking and squeaking together.
Gravity’s keel keeps it in a slip far into the bay. Jeremy passes the shallow draft power boats waiting for their weekend masters. There are live-aboards like Jeremy who often greet him in passing. It is a solitary walk out to his boat this morning.
Gravity’s tiny galley is a blend of fiberglass fridge-sink Dufour-functionality and Mary-bespoke stowage added above the sink across the aft wall. The standard two-burner gimbaled stove top Jeremy recalls from his weeks with Mary Rule before transiting the Panama Canal was replaced in Florida with an energy-efficient induction cooktop. Jeremy misses the familiar fuel fire.
His induction-capable espresso coffee maker is on the cooktop. He adds water to the lower chamber and fills the funnel with Joy in the Morning picked up the road in Falmouth. Levi Fisher taught Jeremy to love coffee. Making a pot assumes all the ritual of a mass that substantiates the old man’s presence in his life. Jeremy tightly screws the upper chamber and places it on the cooktop.
Gravity’s galley creeps further along the port shelving above the dining bench, giving room for a small microwave at an easy reach. While Jeremy waits for the coffee, he heats a raisin bun.
The prep station is no more than a chopping board that double-duties as the fridge lid. Jeremy could prepare a feast in this square yard. He thinks about this as the water comes to a boil. What do I cook them?
The gurgling of the Bialetti espresso maker and the rich notes of jasmine and blueberry signal his coffee is ready. He bites the bun, then lifts the lid to appreciate the hazel brown foam. Jeremy has four bistro cups Levi would approve of. The Madans used them off Green Island. He spoils the elegance-ritual of coffee service by pouring everything into a well-used, much-traveled Redbubble with Canada’s iconic Tim Horton logo on the side.
Peace comes to him as he sips his coffee from Mary Rule’s travel mug. The bimini top has been rolled onto the dodger over the companionway. He sits on the deck with his feet on a cockpit locker and his back against cebeci escort the starboard guardrail. It offers a view of the intensifying light above the dark mass of Monk’s Hill. His family is still sleeping at its base.
Jeremy does not think about why he has abandoned them so early. The expectations are on everyone. Everyone is trying to be considerate (well, Sophie remains reassuringly Sophie). It just leaves Jeremy fearing he is not enough—either not saying enough, or not giving enough. He is frayed by their attempts to unravel the mysteries of his life. It is even harder for Jeremy because these people default to some before-spot that he is supposed to still fit into. He honestly wants to spend time with them, but his capacity to cope is exhausted, so he had to get up and move.
Sipping coffee on Gravity, Jeremy tries to center himself again. For this moment, he has his regular solitary routine of dry bread and black coffee. Kenroy Jean-Baptiste’s ambitious building-block project is coming along. George Thomas has finished the cut work, and behind-between the stacked shipping containers, he and Kenroy are patching together balconies and stairways from Antigua’s discarded ironmongery. “The more repurposed, the better!” Kenroy exclaims, sure that this virtue will delight-draw the eco-tourist trade.
Jeremy washes the last of his raisin bun down with a gulp of coffee. Right now, Jeremy is helping Vinny with twin outboard Yamahas pulled off a 2007 Drummond Runner. Melvin Lyndsey likes to sit back and tell his young helper what to do. “Not even two thousand hours on these 250s, it’s corrosion in the exhaust again. I’ve seen it before,” Vinny will light up a fresh cigarette and watch as Jeremy works. Jeremy should spend the morning here at Shekerley Boatyard helping the old man.
Greyson takes the 5:30 feeding while Remy tries to sleep. She is still awake when he ducks back under the mosquito net to join her. Remy’s first thought is for Sky resting in the Peapod Travel Bed surrounded by its mesh insect screen. Her new (grand)daughter is resting comfortably after a long day traveling. Sky is a good traveler, like Jeremy, or her birth mother, Remy adds ruefully. Family is complicated, Remy reminds herself, and that is nothing new.
Her second thought is for her son. This is my Thanksgiving, she tells herself. It started with the tantalizing-distressing phone call from San Diego, restoring Jeremy. The ten months after were a roller-coaster finish to the sick-making months before that first confusing conversation. Under one roof finally, Remy reminds herself.
He is not there. It is like a shattered dream for just a moment. The familiar cancer of loss sends its tendrils outward, then it fades away. Remy can see a light sheet tossed back on the couch and the cushion he used as a pillow. He was here, she reassures herself, this oh-so-familiar young man her son has turned into.
Dressed, Remy steps out onto the porch and absorbs the island dawn. The business of the harbor is obscured by the proximal shadow of the hill behind the Whitewood Bungalows. Last night, they gathered together on this broad porch enjoying the headiness of reunion and the band of lights following the shoreline. “Where is your boat? Where is your apartment?” Jeremy pointed out into the darkness. Gravity was a short walk away, Jeremy told them as they passed the boatyard. Fourteen Gates was vaguely toward their left.
Their little caravan arrived in darkness. In the growing light, Remy can appreciate the breadth of Falmouth more. Across a parched lawn dotted with tropical trees, there is a wall of green. Water-weathered rooftops rise above the low canopy, then seem to mingle with the bare masts of Jeremy’s chosen world. The rented bungalows are too far down the slope for a panoramic view. Remy has the sense of that, having memorized a scattering of online images.
She thought Jeremy would be out here. Remy circles the pair of buildings, then decides to walk down toward the church and busy road. It is early, but the day already reminds her of a humid morning in July. There are multistoried villas perched on the steep slopes behind her. Down by the road they came in on, the homes are modest.
Remy stops walking when she reaches the wall hedging the large churchyard. It is not clear where her son went. She has not thought to bring her phone. This early, the traffic on the road is light. You worry too much, she tells herself. All her fears should be defaulted back to normal now. Unfair, her Jeremy has Flash-run two years on as if he was her college freshman on his own. The stolen years, but they can’t put that on him, not after everything. The alto whine of the scooter draws her eye. Cars own the narrow roads and she noticed few bikes or motorcycles. She knows immediately that this is Jeremy.
Jeremy sees his mom as soon as he turns up toward Whitewood Bungalows. She is standing, arms across her chest. She drops her arms and waves a greeting at him.
“Hi, Mom,” he is subdued and speaks quietly, barely above the noise of the light scooter. It is quiet on this pre-dawn street.
“Jem, having a good morning?” Remy is tentative.
“Oh, ah, yeah I like being out early when it’s quiet.”
“I was a little worried, when I woke and you were gone.”
“Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to worry you – ”
“No, it’s okay, just…I just had a moment of – ”
“I mean, I’m okay, Mom – “
“Well, I’ve hardly had a chance to see you.” She doesn’t want to say her fears.
Silence. He knows she means she was afraid for him, a mom fear – but after all, in her life that worst fear had already happened once.
“I woke up early, I wanted to get out a little, I went for a walk then I decided to check on Gravity.”
“Everything okay on the boat?”
“Oh yeah, sure. I was thinking I should pick up some things for breakfast, but you can’t shop much in Falmouth this early in the morning.”
“You didn’t notice, we had the kitchen stocked up for our visit in advance. The BnB offers that as a service.”
“Oh sure, I just wanted to get you some fresh fruit though.”
More silence. There is a tension between them; the long separation has not fully ended; despite the busy greetings of last night, and being with each other now, the before still entangles them.
“Sky is so pretty, Mom.”
“Yes. She’s a beautiful baby.”
“Did you notice how she looks like Sophie?”
“Ha ha!” she laughs, “she does just a bit doesn’t she?”
After a long moment, it comes upon him suddenly. Jeremy is overwhelmed. The stress of the past year is palpable, the worries of his daily life, the responsibility, the demands, the fear of his being unable to meet expectations, it all suddenly crashes, his mind twists, shatters him with flashbacks to the terror-filled days with John and Patrick. The whole year is a whirlwind! He is adrift, lost, without anchor…his eyes search for his mother’s.
Remy sees it, feels it, in the way a mother knows when her child is hurt. She reaches for him as he does for her. They grab and hold tightly, a bear hug as the tears course down Jeremy’s face, buried in her shoulder, he suddenly sobs, loud, wracking sobs.
“It’s okay Jem. It’s okay. I’m here.”
Long moments pass; the boy shudders, finally stops crying, but they hold tight. Son and mother. It has taken over a year, but they are together again, after all.
Jeremy has shrugged off hurt so many times. He does it once again. He steps away from her and looks back down the road to the harbor.
He found his strength again, Remy realizes. She comes to stand beside him.
Jeremy glances at his mother, then looks out to the sea. “Do you want to go for coffee? I know a great place. Carib Bean Coffee Roasters, back up the road in Falmouth.”
“On this thing?” she says dubiously.
Fourteen Gates, English Harbour
The little caravan leaves Whitewood Bungalows with Jeremy riding shotgun with his grandparents. At Cobbs Cross, they turn south on Dockyard Drive and pass through the tourist hub of English Harbour Town. The road snakes along a valley, wooded slopes rising on either side. Then they climb the road that might take them up Dow’s Hill to the interpretive center. “We’ll go up there after we look around,” Jeremy explains.
“My, it is just as pretty as the pictures we’ve been seeing!” Mary Gates exclaims. “It’s a slice of paradise, Jeremy.”
Jeremy might have taken them along the lower road to Antigua Slipway, but he knows the view from the turnoff was better. His grandparents could take in the sweep of Nelson’s Dockyard, Freeman’s Bay and the sands of Galilean Beach. Then a ridge intervenes.
“The Inn at English Harbour,” Jeremy gestures to the first detached bungalows of the neighboring resort. He points to the right, “There it is, Fourteen Gates.” He turns back to Mary, and checks to make sure his parents, Sophie and Sky are still following in the other car. “Just park along the road here, behind that car.”
“Not much parking space, is there?” Greyson surveys the undeveloped space between the road and the adjacent block of four units. It is hard not to compare Fourteen Gates with its well-established neighbor. Need room for more, he adds to the list of issues to address.
“Well, here it is,” Jeremy is conscious that everyone is oriented to him, as if he is the tour guide. “Um, the ones on this side and on the front are finished. I’m in an old place.” He points along the path that leads around toward the office. “Let’s walk around this way.”
“You said some of the walls were very old,” Herb comments to Greyson. “I see what you mean.” He is curious about the steps taken to stabilize the old buildings.
“This wing is the oldest, the original part. The rest is considerably newer.” The two engineers get distracted by the technicalities. Even though Greyson has had no part in the structural decisions, he finds himself taking the role of advocate. Mary and Remy just appreciate the view of mega yachts and Historic Nelson’s Dockyard. They tune out their men. “I’ve arranged for us to see a unit,” Greyson explains to his father.
“So, my place is in the back.” Jeremy leads them on around the corner, “It’s really basic, not much to see.” What teenage boy, albeit (damn near) emancipated, wants to open his room for inspection? He is anxious to share Lekker Braai with his mom, and thinks the men will find his work at Shekerley Boatyard interesting. He has no hand in this real estate development.
They cut through the covered gap between the blocks into the unfinished courtyard. Jeremy stops at his door. “Well, here it is, just a room really, not fancy like the place Dad will show you later.” He points over to number eleven. “So okay, pretty basic,” Jeremy opens the door and lets it swing in so his family can walk in before him.
“Oh, but this is nice!” Mary exclaims.
Remy follows Mary in, absorbing another facet of her son’s maturing personality. Tidy, Remy expected. Remy and Greyson raised their boy that way in a coaxing firmness. A Gates was expected to take what was at hand and leave it better. Greyson and Herb might be scrutinizing the new rafters and the problematic degradation of the floor and walls, Remy is noting the way her Jeremy settles into this space. She turns to Jeremy, “It is nice.”
“Uh, thanks,” Jeremy manages.
This was Theo. Jeremy had straightened up a bit, he knew he had to bring them to Da Nang, but he spent more time making Gravity shine. There is a spray of flowers on the table. It rests on a piece of colorful fabric Jeremy identifies as the one Theo drapes over the harsh lamp in his Swetes shed-room. Jeremy concludes Theo stripped his room of everything nice. Theo’s exuberant throw pillows are on the couch and piled on the bed.
“Nice digs,” Sophie tells Jeremy. She can tell from the way he has jammed his fists into his shorts that Jeremy is uncomfortable. This is not the boy’s room in Chillicothe. Someone else’s brush strokes have textured her young friend’s world with a softer palette. Sophie has a good idea who that person is. She pushes Sky in the direction of Herb, and then walks to the kitchenette.
“I’m sorry, there is not much in here,” Jeremy apologizes.
“We wouldn’t want to eat you out of house and home,” Greyson answers. “I thought after we walked around, that we would go to a restaurant for lunch.”
“La brasserie down the hill,” Jeremy considers. He plans to show them Antigua Slipway, pointing out where Gravity is moored when he leaves his sloop in English Harbour. The views from the shoreline restaurants are what he thinks his family wants to see. “If anyone is thirsty, I think there is some bottled water in the fridge.” Jeremy stops talking as Sophie pulls an unexpected beer from the old fridge.
“Anyone else, Herb?” Sophie cracks one open. The others look her way, “It’s good for breastfeeding, don’t you know?” She takes a swig, “Could be darker,” she concedes.
Two towels on the rack, Jeremy realizes as his mother and grandmother put their seal of approval on his bathroom. Let it go, he tells himself. There was no intention of erasing Theo from Da Nang. Jeremy would not be asserting his independence if he wished to hide his latest male friendship. Still, bringing the boyfriend home for the holidays, something more for everyone to measure, Jeremy grimaces.
Herb snags Sky as she rolls by and guides her stroller over to a bookshelf near the door leading to the unit’s unfinished courtyard. He reads the spines of a handful of Theo’s paperbacks, then touches Jeremy’s piled school materials. It is too tempting to ignore. After a quick check, he glances Jeremy’s way. “You were going to do advanced placement, weren’t you?”
“Don’t worry Grandpa, I’m definitely doing advanced placement here.”
Herb reaches out to squeeze his grandson’s shoulder, sorry now he mentioned it. “Yes you are, Jeremy.”
To Herb’s mind, there are too few materials on the shelf. Jeremy can read the old man’s thoughts, “It’s mostly paperless.”
“Isn’t everything these days?” Herb grumbles. He was an early adopter, but since retirement, he appreciates the qualities of paper more. It is such a pleasure to stand beside his tall grandson and just listen as Jeremy explains his studies on a tablet. They all seem so intertwined with how the boy is determined to make a living, and there is no hesitation about the choices he has made.
Sky chooses this moment to wake up and announce her expectations to the room. Jeremy puts his tablet back on the shelf and squats down beside her. “So small,” he comments.
“But they grow,” Remy replies from where she and Mary çeşme escort are assessing the precarious rattan couch and chairs. “Bring her over,” she adds. Jeremy lifts the tiny bundle gingerly, expecting a foul smell.
“Just a little shit on the bum, nothing you can’t handle,” Sophie quips from across the bed.
Jeremy shoots her a look as foul as a baby’s diaper. She winks at him and pulls the closet door open. Theo’s bright kimono catches her eye. She whips it out, holds it up against herself, and offers Jeremy an evil grin.
The others do not notice. Their eyes are locked on Jeremy and the newborn cupped carefully in his confident hands. “Just fussing in the heat, probably,” Mary breaks the silence. “Bring her over here.”
Entering the patio, the party passes through the six-foot custom wrought iron gate with a hummingbird feeding from a hibiscus flower and the number 11 worked into it. The patio walls are painted stucco. The patio itself has a colorful paver pathway set in light-colored gravel curving to the door. An obviously new tree is planted in the inner corner to the left, where the patio wall meets the building, a promise of future shade. Remy approves of several flower beds for the occupants’ use, and Greyson is focused on a large tank, maybe 1600 liters, tucked into the opposite corner. A downspout draws rainwater from the gutters overhead to provide fresh water for the patio. This unit is on the east side of the building, so the patio will have the morning sun, but it will have shade during the hottest part of the day. The wooden door is painted a deep Caribbean blue that picks up from some of the natural stone of the old wall.
Greyson pushes the bell, noting it’s one of those new ring units, which he finds an unexpected touch. In a moment a youngish man opens the door, late twenties perhaps, tanned, athletic and wearing a surgical scrub shirt over blue jeans.
“Hello, I hope we’re in the right place, I’m Greyson Gates, are you Mr. Kelvin Prescod?”
“Yes, but call me Kel, please.”
“Thank you, Kel, I understand you are willing to let us look at your unit?”
“Ah, yes, Mary asked to let the owners tour the place today, I don’t mind.”
Greyson makes introductions, the size of the group is a little daunting. Kel expected one or two people, but doesn’t have a reason not to proceed. He loves where he lives, and wants to stay on good terms. Considering the size of the group, he worries that this may presage a desire to claim his unit for someone else’s use. Maybe a retirement pied-à-terre for the older couple? He notes the presence of a sleeping baby in the arms of the younger Gates woman.
“This is Sophie, a friend of the family,” Prescod’s attention perks up at the pretty young woman with an open face,“and this is our son, Jeremy, who lives here, and is actually the ultimate owner of Fourteen Gates.”
Kel has seen this teenager around the facility in recent weeks, but had no idea he is, or even could be, the actual owner. Kel thinks the boy lives in one of the unrenovated units, and wonders again if this tour could end in his eviction.
“Kel, thanks again. We’ll try to keep the visit short.”
They all enter the unit, and the whole group is taken aback at the space. The main floor is generous, even with seven adults circulating, it seems roomy. They all absorb the open plan: a lounge at the right end with a large wall-mounted TV; a kitchen, cooktop peninsula and storage pantry to the left; a small square glass and wrought iron dining table and chairs between the two main spaces. Kel has scattered some brightly colorful Caribbean-feel rugs, large and small to help define the functional areas. Most notably, the new wooden roof structure is a vaulted presence rising steeply to nearly twenty feet above the ground floor. Several ceiling fans hang high over the space, turning lazily.
Remy is immediately impressed with the banks of windows along each side. Left over from the days this was a school, the seven feet tall and twelve feet wide banks make the place light and bright. The original window glass looks to have been replaced, and the frames refinished and painted. Views on this side don’t show the harbor, still they are attractive. The bank faces out to the pretty patio which hides the street they parked on. Beyond the patio wall, the ridge is lush vegetation. The other bank faces into the inner courtyard of older trees shading the process of a landscape transformation. It is a bit rough, but a glimmer of the future beauty is evident.
Herb and Greyson are intrigued by what they see as a striking blend of engineering and architectural innovation. There is a modern stairway rising up over part of the kitchen along the patio-side wall where they entered. The stairs ascend to a loft that literally floats over one third of the ground floor. The polished wooden steps attach to a painted steel member mounted on the side wall, allowing the free-floating treads to jut out without visible support. Instead of traditional wood, there’s a brushed stainless rail supported by a few stainless posts. In place of balusters, a series of five tensioned steel cables allow most of the stairway to dissolve to transparency. The same open stainless post and rail system protects the loft, and opens the entire structure visually, enhancing its floating appearance.
The loft erupts from the back corner to jut out over the space. There are no visible support columns at either end; it doesn’t touch the patio side wall, likewise stands free of the courtyard window bank, allowing light from both sides to filter up into it.
An animated discussion ensues between the two engineers as they try to decide if this cantilever design requires extra steel – or at least stronger steel. They try to imagine the portions of structure not visible.
“I’d expect wood or steel columns supporting it at four corners like a poster bed, and a conventional wooden staircase,” Greyson comments.
“Yes, the ordinary way. It would still work, but that diminishes the space,” Herb observes.
“Makes it heavier and darker,” Greyson agrees, “very nicely done.”
Father and son are even more impressed when they realize the cost ultimately might not be much more than for a conventional loft and stair. Wood must be imported. Steel is likely not much more expensive than architectural grade wood and there is no waste, as it is fabricated to the exact design. Steel cabling is inexpensive. Then too, there’s savings in labor to be had with quick assembly. The real question is whether the local workforce has the skills for working these advanced materials; evidently it does.
“Dad, this place is just plain gorgeous. No wonder the units are doing so well.”
“I agree Son, this is nicer than I had imagined. The unit size isn’t big, but it sure packs a punch. Are they going to do all the units like this?”
“I certainly hope so. I’m going to ask the solicitors and make it a point to praise the architect.” The men turn back to discuss the technical aspects of the building.
Jeremy hangs back by the door, arms folded across his chest. He remembers Dwight Mouldenhauer’s rental unit overlooking Falmouth Harbour at High View Studios. The similar footprint with lofty open ceilings, more light. Money he left on the table, money Theo would have taken, just as he agreed with all these people that Fourteen Gates was his.
“You alright there, sister?” Sophie asks him. “This is choice, eh?”
“Yeah,” Jeremy finds a convincing tangerine grin. He has his Da Nang with Theo; tucked in their private corner. It is a suitable snug for happy mice nibbling at the edges of this sort of opulence. Theo mostly in his Aunt Ronica’s bed-shed, and he on old Gravity puttering past the mega yachts unnoticed. Levi Fisher’s gift just keeps on giving.
Remy and Mary admire the kitchen finishes; natural stone counters and stainless sink and fixtures, then they note the floors on both levels are polished cement, dyed an attractive terra cotta. Both window walls are exposed natural stone, reclaimed from the original 18th-century construction. The stucco end walls are painted a sandy white that runs up to the underside of the loft, softening what could otherwise be an industrial impact, while also brightening the kitchen below the loft. The glass tile backsplash in the kitchen and pantry is colorful Caribbean.
The overall effect pleasantly contrasts the antiquity of the building’s before with a sophisticated now that Whitewood Bungalows has not aspired to. Remy looks on Jeremy’s Da Nang, she caught the nickname, as the affectionate first squat some of her university friends occupied. Proudly Squalor House, she recalls them naming it, romantically aspiring.
Kelvin Prescod, as uncomfortable as her son hovering by the door, is prophetic. Ten years older, perhaps, and that will be her Jeremy. The boat and shabby bachelor suite are just temporary. After, it is nice to think of her son here in an apartment like Number 11. Remy cannot reconcile with the deeply troubled man, but she is grateful Levi Fisher snatched Jeremy from death and left him all of this.
As they tour the neatly maintained unit, they see the loft bedroom with skylight and bath on the upper level. Nothing is particularly fancy but it is all gleaming and certainly state of the art, and most of all, it carries on the theme of light and airy. The small bathroom predictably uses glass panels edged with brushed stainless steel matching the stair rails and the vanity is stone to match the kitchen. There is a view of the patio from the loft.
“We’ve landed in worse places at high end resorts,” Mary confides.
While the Gateses are absorbed with the architecture, Sophie explores other attractions, “Kel, what kind of work do you do?”
“I’m a biomedical technician, basically I operate and repair medical devices for the hospital in St. John’s.”
“Excellent, you must have quite an education for that,” calls Herb approvingly, while Jeremy shrinks a little at the mention of the E-word.
“Pretty much a bachelor’s in electronic technology but with a lot of biology, anatomy, and chemistry,” Kel offers. Despite his first misgivings, he is liking this family rather a lot. Especially the young woman, Sophie, a friend of the family.
“My son and I are civil engineers in Ohio. Well, I’m retired of course and he’s heading up his firm, not sure if he does much engineering these days,” the old man is bragging in his own way.
“Well that’s interesting. Um,” Kel fumbles a little, “if you don’t mind my asking, how is it that Jeremy is here and not in Ohio?” The question is innocent curiosity but he’s startled at the reaction – did I step on a landmine?
Jeremy deftly rescues the day, interjecting, “The place is part of a trust my,” he pauses for just the slightest second, “my godfather set up for me. He died recently. I came here to see Antigua and decided to start my own charter boat business.”
“I’m impressed, Jeremy. I apologize, I took you for younger than you actually must be to be running a business,” Kel gives Jeremy a second look.
“Well if it hadn’t been for Levi’s gift, I suppose I might not be,” says the boy, avoiding the implied question. “I am an emancipated minor. My family is here just to check up on me and make sure I’m not stubbing my toes.”
Greyson ignores the Levi Fisher reference. His son is voicing his suspicions of their motives for this Christmas visit. Just here to settle you and bring you Sky, Greyson wants to say. Well, checking up and Gates boys noticing is a family reunion tradition, he concedes the point to Jeremy.
“And you have a boat too, well you must if you are running a charter…” then Kel worries he’s overstepped again.
“I’m in partnership with my godmother, who is retired, but has been an avid sailor for a long time, so I am buying a half share of her boat and running the service. She didn’t want to let it just sit and not be used, and she is getting up in years a bit. She’ll come to visit the boat now and then. I’ll be giving her a share of the income from the charter service.”
“You’ve got a plan don’t you?” says the man, admiringly.
“I have,” Jeremy affirms for his family’s benefit.
“Well, we’ve seen the unit, thanks so much Kel, and we don’t want to overstay our welcome, Jeremy,” Greyson steps in thinking too much information has been shared on such a slight acquaintance.
Sophie smiles engagingly at the man and says, “I might be staying with Jem just around the corner for a bit, you won’t mind if I come to visit will you?”
“Oh, not at all!” replies Kelvin Prescod with enthusiasm. “Please do!”
Chandler’s Caribbean Cafe, English Harbour
“You’re on the starboard tack, aren’t you? I thought we were off to see your waka,” Sophie shouts into Jeremy’s ear. The black Zuma has taken a left turn onto Matthew’s Road and Jeremy has gunned the scooter off in the wrong direction.
“Gravity is ready to go,” Jeremy tosses back over his shoulder, “thought we’d have plenty of time for a look-see after everyone has left; don’t mind do you? Want you to meet someone.”
“It’s sweet as, bro,” Sophie assures him. “Thought I was your missus till I saw the red dress and that bit of silk there.”
“Your girlfriend, cuzzy.” Sophie gives Jeremy a salacious squeeze. They are pushing into Cobb’s Corner, then they turn down toward the Falmouth Harbour Marina and Chandler’s Caribbean Cafe.
“Oh, you’re my girlfriend,” Jeremy assures her. It is just like that. Their lives intersected-joined on a boat in San Diego. They pinwheel off in their own directions, happily friends.
“This where you’ve been hiding Theo?”
“Theo doesn’t hide,” Jeremy laughs, “hang on!” They take the turn off to the right, and what Jeremy thinks of as “restaurant row” begins to pass.
Jeremy has told Sophie more of Theo than she has shared about the men she met in San Francisco. She was pregnant there, so there was little of that. One typically short message from Jeremy and Theo was just there, sharing her young friend’s life. Jeremy passes on things Theo says, like the boy’s thoughts mattered. Sophie is curious.
Jeremy stops right before the red cement planters flanking the entrance to a Saturday-busy restaurant. Beyond the tree-lined street, the crowd is mingling about tropical islands. “Looks chill,” Sophie approves. She is sizing up the patrons at the bar directly across from the restaurant entrance. The establishment is a magnet for the older yacht crowd, but she sees islanders. Barbecuing meat revives an appetite satiated by a healthy meal at Lekker Braai.
“Laid back, up there,” Jeremy tells her, “let’s cim cif yapan escort go up to the top.”
From the red building with its wine cave, Jeremy leads Sophie away from the casual burger-section with its grill station and up through the first four seating areas. This late, the diners are mostly settled into late night drinks and snacks. He is leading her to the horseshoe bar beside the kitchen.
“Your usual, Fergus?” The man behind the bar takes time to appreciate Sophie Wright. Her hair is no-nonsense short. Her body is shrugging off pregnancy like a long-distance runner cools down. “Are you going to introduce me to your friend?”
“Sophie,” Jeremy offers. “Sophie, this is Tyson Coyle. Can we take a table?”
By this Theo Clarke’s young Fergus is asking to sit down without ordering. The fem boy singer, as good as a trans, is not the vibe the American restaurateur aspires to. He aims for a generic Jimmy-Buffett-Margaritaville that older-affluent sailors might be drawn to. The mega yachts indulge modern luxury, Chandler’s nods toward island authenticity. Tourist steel-drum-Reggae saturates the coast and Tyson does not have a hip-hop crowd. As long as visitors like the sissy boy’s entertainment, Tyson is good with it. Tyson looks over the upper level to where the bathrooms are. It is mostly empty at the moment. “I’ll buy you both a drink.” He points to a free table, then turns away.
“Tyson owns the place,” Jeremy tells Sophie. “Hey, look at this!” Just around from the cement bar top, beside the liquor bottles, there is a messy rack of tourist pamphlets. Jeremy grabs a brochure with his smiling face on it. “See, advertising, keep it!” He hands one to Sophie, then frowns. His brochures are tucked behind some others. He moves them to the front.
Tyson Coyle personally places a cocktail before the unsurprised Sophie. She gives the older man a glance that might convey perhaps, or merely offers thanks. Jeremy sips a rum and Coke that is definitely not his usual at Chandler’s Caribbean Cafe. It has been a long and unaccustomed stress-day with his family. Downtime is generationally different. Quiet-siesta for the elder-Gateses and Sky, contrariwise the pair of young nightingales are joining the Antigua night-watch.
They sip-sit looking at the possibilities of a Falmouth Harbour night. Saturday night has swelled the transitory yacht-villa crowd with settled islanders. The apartheid of Antigua mingles by the shore. This is Jeremy’s familiar nibbling grounds. Live-aboard-beached, he can meet the yacht set, but knows he is not one of them. His part is service. For Sophie, this is just another port of call, a fresh beach. Her next berth or bed might be a flirtatious conversation away.
Jeremy wants to ask if Sophie has heard from Graham Sumner since they parted ways in Chile. He wonders if she is sad-mad that he will not acknowledge their beautiful baby girl. “Have you heard from that guy you were sailing with, Graham? How’s he doing?”
“No idea,” Sophie shrugs.
He nods acknowledgement. It is predictable to Jeremy. Sophie’s shipmate did not sign up to be a father; but that was before and little Sky is now. Wasn’t it wrong to duck responsibility after? “I gotta say, Sky’s father should have helped you.”
“Sky’s father is a good man.”
“I wanted to say, Mom and Dad, they will do a great job with Sky. You couldn’t ask for two better parents,” Jeremy hopes this is okay to tell Sophie. “I know they will want you to be part of it. You know, like you’re her mom right? What’s it, birthmother?”
“You think so?” Sophie sips her drink and looks quietly at Jeremy. He is only echoing what Remy has told her since they all agreed Sky would be best left in Chillicothe with her grandparents.
“Yeah, like we’re family now,” Jeremy grins. “Remember, you told me I would be Sky’s cool godfather. Guess I’m her cool big brother too. So yeah, you’re family, aren’t you?”
Jeremy looks down the levels to where Theo is coming up to have his turn at the mike. “This year, I’ve made friends along the way; don’t talk to most of them much anymore.”
“Live-aboards,” Sophie understands, “on the move, am I right?”
“Yeah, like that, probably. Thanks for staying in touch. Not a lot of people understand me, not like you do.”
Light me up put me on top, let’s falalalalalalala ♪♫♬
Light me up put me on top, let’s falalalalalalala ♪♫♬
The only place you wanna be
Is underneath my Christmas tree
♪♫♬ The only place you wanna be
Is underneath my Christmas tree
♪♫♬ Light me up put me on top, let’s falalalalalalala
Light me up put me on top, let’s falalalalalalala ♪♫♬
Ho ho ho, under the mistletoe
Yes, everybody knows ♪♫♬
We will take off our clothes
Yes, if you want us to we will
♪♫♬ You, oh ,oh, a Christmas
My Christmas tree is delicious
Oh, oh, a Christmas ♪♫♬
My Christmas tree is delicious
Light you up, put you on top, let’s falalalala (let’s go) ♪♫♬
Light you up, put you on top, let’s falalalala (let’s go) ♪♫♬
Ho ho ho, under the mistletoe
Yes everybody knows ♪♫♬
We will take off our clothes
Yes, if you want us to we will
You, oh ,oh, a Christmas ♪♫♬
My Christmas tree is delicious
Oh, oh, a Christmas
My Christmas tree is delicious
♪♫♬ Here, here, here
The best time of the year
Take off my stockings we’re
I’m spreading Christmas cheer ♪♫♬
Yes, if you want us to we will
You, oh, oh, a Christmas ♪♫♬
My Christmas tree is delicious
Oh, oh, a Christmas
My Christmas tree is delicious
Space cowboy, Lady Gaga, Lady Gaga, there she goes
Space cowboy, Lady Gaga, Lady Gaga
Here we go ♪♫♬
Cherry, cherry, boom, boom ♪♫♬
The melody shifts to a nod towards Deck the Halls. Theo manages the dance-synthpop composition as if he is a jazz player or a rapper and the whole Gaga song is extemporaneous. The lyrics’ sexual innuendos are offered to the listeners with barely an acknowledgment from Theo.
“He doesn’t lip sync, does he?”
Jeremy and Sophie watch his performance as Theo moves about the restaurant with the assurance of RuPaul. His byplay with the audience is familiar to Jeremy and more than a few of the patrons at the tables near where he performs.
“Tyson told Theo everyone had to sing Christmas,” Jeremy explains. Theo and Jeremy’s eyes make contact in a mistletoe-moment.
Jeremy turns back to Sophie with an unsophisticated blush. Not just hooking up with this one, Sophie figures. She keeps watching the confidence as Jeremy starts talking.
“He is from Jamaica. American too, lived there a while with his dad.” That didn’t work out, he realizes that dads are not all like Greyson Gates. Sophie comes into focus, not just a friend, but a young woman who probably understands the whole parenthood thing far better than he does.
“Theo lives nearby with his aunt,” Sophie gives him a look that references the bring-your- toothbrush touches in Da Nang. That prompts another blush. “He is crazy busy. We both are. He is in school, works part time, pretty smart, I think.”
Sophie can see the age difference between the boys; just to note it. She has learned that the difference between two people is usually not the age. Not full of himself, not the way some beautiful men are. She watches Theo slide past some man reaching for his dangling elf. The performance means more to Theo than being admired.
“His mom is in Jamaica. He won’t go there. Maybe this summer, when things slow down, she can come visit. He would like that.”
Saffron Wright has not talked to Sophie since their phone call in Chile. I sent your mom a picture, Remy told her. Remy did not mention replies. She would if there were, Sophie knows. The Gateses do family proper. Good people, they.
The song is done and someone drunk enough to follow Theo’s talent wants a turn. Theo makes his way up to join Jeremy and his New Zealand friend. He has to stop from time to time, acknowledge compliments, do his part for Tyson Coyle’s business, prime his own pump with likely newcomers; just Dil the place up a little.
Jeremy’s friend is an aerodynamic, mast-climbing tomboy, perky little tits, tousled layered pixie cut; not the lush-type with curves Bobbie Tosh would gush about. She has a visceral appeal that transcends inclinations. He sits down between them and takes a sip from Jeremy’s glass. “Not White Christmas enough for them, or maybe they expected Boney M. How do you do?” he asks, turning dramatically to Sophie.
“Right enough,” she replies equably. “Nice place, this.”
Theo tries to measure the young woman. No forced-conventional compliments on his singing. The restaurant compliment seems good-natured. He glances between Jeremy and Sophie. Between the boyfriends, it is mum said or Bobbie thought and one time Wade (so funny). Not intentional sharing even, just the after-note presence of the before in their companionable now. Ingredients to stir into Caribbean pepper pot of their lives.
The meat of it is family for them both. Keyshia Clarke keeps her finger on Theo’s pulse, and there is this flood of Jeremy’s family. Yes, Jeremy has his Levi-serious and Anton-flippant observations (delightfully reversed occasionally). Dov Norrell and (fucking) Cordell Faulkner, Theo catches the angry epithet each time, that before does not bear mention between them. Sophie helped me get on Sirocco, not much more than that till there are baby pictures on Jeremy’s Galaxy.
Sophie’s forehead crinkles between her eyebrows as she listens to Jeremy. She is not a mainstream representation like Krystle, Annika, and Cherry promenading their svelte bodies on Oberyn Norrell’s High Grade. Theo sees she could pass for a boy, as well as he can pass for a girl at a distance. Theo is tuned to the people who are in their bodies and just talk directly. She just seems sensitive-adaptable to the multiple ways people are. They have barely exchanged a word, but Theo gives her shoulder a little push, “I like you!”
Sophie grins back and Jeremy laughs. Sophie and Theo both live in such joyous celebration of who they are. That is the Fourteen-now Jeremy strives for. Theo asks about Sophie’s plans and when he learns she wants to crew, “Do I have things to share with you, honey! Not tonight’s shower, dear. This lot is going nowhere! I’m talking too much!” He turns to Jeremy, “Fergus, I’m talking too much?”
Chandler’s Caribbean Cafe brings out the Dil in Theo, a buttery-brightness that provides fresh flavor to a conversation. He is lime zest. Try this brightness on Anton Schroeder and there would be a wit-duel to the bed. Theo has a penetrating wit that Anton could encompass. Sophie absorbs Theo, seeing Anton in him, seeing the uniqueness of him. She will circle the world just for these moments.
“Where’s the major?” Theo asks, glancing at the bar. “Where’s my martini? You know,” he turns toward Sophie confidentially. “That table there, they have their eyes on you.”
“They got a boat?”
“You’re looking for a berth?” Theo likes the lasciviousness of the word.
“Yah, nah, I just had one of them,” Sophie answers, “no need to rush on another.” Oh, the cleverness of youth.
It is Saturday night from Falmouth to English Harbour. Work hard when you are on the clock, share some pranks and games with your coworkers, and cruise your free evenings. Emancipation might be a fussy legal hurdle, but autonomy is a thing you take for yourself. Jeremy’s old friends in Chillicothe feel no different, this is Jeremy’s endless freshman year. He, Theo, and Sophie work so they have time to play. A teenage boy can understand a system like this.
Sophie teases Theo about the kimono in the closet. She asks about their lives, and watches the way Jeremy and Theo touch each other with words and a look. Sophie can carry her world in a backpack. Theo seems sanguine about his after, oh dear, who can say? Jeremy is different. Remy and Greyson, hell, Herb and Mary too, they made Jeremy want roots and partnership. The two boys pause to throw the look each other’s way. “When are you coming over to meet Sky?” Sophie asks innocently.
A different look between them, but not a challenge, just boys caught off guard. “I’m sailing tomorrow, with Mom and Dad. Do you—?”
“I’m at Carlisle Beach, Christmas relief,” Theo declines, “just heard.” They will work it out.
Theo strips off his Christmas sweater and Sophie can see the attraction, “Those pants are so tight, I can see your promised land,” Sophie laughs.
“Just a warning, this muffin has nuts. Gotta lively up yourself,” Theo exclaims, “enough of Christmas songs.” He stops at the bar to order another round, and then down he goes to the mike in a tight singlet to sing again. Once he sets up his phone again, he launches into Lady Gaga’s Born This Way. A scattering of applause from around the regulars, who like this song when it is sung by this young man.
“Now he’s a proper man for you, Jeremy Gates. Do people dance in this cabana?”
They really don’t, not this crowd, this night. It does not matter to Sophie. She catches Jeremy’s hand and pulls him down the terraces to the level where Theo sings his anthem. She is still so crazy-different, old-not-old to Jeremy. He forgot the way she is like Theo. Details? Sophie shrugs off details.
They dance to Theo’s voice and Gaga’s music. He joins their dance, microphone in hand, twirling to his audience, turning back to Jeremy and Sophie. Their body’s face to face, Jeremy recalls dueling tongues and passionate lips. Sophie still draws him like no girl he has met. They are dancing for themselves, three healthy animals still celebrating the way they were born.
Nobody else wants to sing, so Theo turns his Gaga-single into an eclectic set. Finally, he relinquishes the music to the plebes down in the barbecue section of Chandler’s. The action is down there, so they drop down to join it. Family waits sedately at Whitewood Bungalows. Jeremy ought to be there with his family, but that means containment, seriousness, conversation. The reunion dinner at Lekker Braai was enough for one night. Now, the three will force the crowd to dance, letting their youthful energy overwhelm the crowd’s apprehensions of Theo dirty dancing up and down his dervish body.
The music shifts to a local flavor to suit the crowd. As long as he can dance, Jeremy does not care. Sophie shifts to a local flavor too. That does not matter. Jeremy cares bugger all, his young body prefers to fuck with hard men. Still, among good friends, what are details? as Dil would say.
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