Copyright © 2010-2017 Boudreaux. All Rights Reserved.
It had been a peaceful couple of weeks since Atreyu’s day of penance. Bastian and Atreyu were still able to work, despite the fact that, as Bastian put it, they were “sort of, technically, kind of, almost on a honeymoon.” They were even working on staying quieter in the tent. They really were; honest. Jack and Lindsay didn’t believe them any more than some of the people who camped near them did, but they swore they really were. Jack had started to offer to let them stay in the camper and he and Lindsay would take the tent, but one very pointed look from Lindsay had him withdrawing that suggestion.
“Your mother is the beating of my heart, son, but she is definitely an all modern woman,” Jack laughed with Atreyu later on.
“Yeah Dad, Mom does not do roughing it,” Atreyu agreed. “Fortunately for me, Bastian loves the tent. He has even asked grandfather if we can camp out on the reservation land sometime after the carnival season is over.”
“It gets cold on the reservation during the winter,” Jack pointed out.
“I told him that and so did Grandpa,” Atreyu replied. “He says our…. Umm… never mind what he said. He just doesn’t seem to think it will be a problem.”
“He has your love to keep him warm,” Jack teased. At his son’s shocked and red face, he chuckled. “No son, I did not overhear you… this time. It is not a new saying or sentiment though. Lovers have thought that way for thousands of years, my boy, and hopefully will for thousands more.” Just then Lindsay came out of the camper with a large animal hide in her hands.
“Where is my son-in-law? I got one of the other women from the tribe to get me this so we can start work on his outfit for the pow wow.”
“That looks awesome, Mom,” Atreyu told her. “It’s really soft, too. How much did this cost?”
“It didn’t cost us a penny, son,” Lindsay told him. “Lesley absolutely demanded to pay for it, because she said it is her job as the mother of the squaw.”
“Not my mom too,” Bastian whined as he walked up to the table. “I am NOT a girl,” he fumed.
“No one is saying that you are,” Jack soothed with a hand on Bastian’s shoulder. “Bastian, there is something you should know about our tribe. We may have modern jobs that support our families, but in all the important areas, we are an old ways group of people. In the traditions of our people, being a two-spirit is a unique and special gift from the Great Spirit. We are all blessed and honored to have you in our tribe, and I am especially proud to have you in my family.”
“Two-spirit?” Bastian asked.
“Think of it as politically correct native terminology for boys that like boys or girls that like girls,” Jack explained.
“Your mother and I have had a long talk over Skype with some of the other women from the tribe, Bastian,” Lindsay told him. “She knows exactly how you are seen by the tribe and no one including her thinks of you as the female in the relationship, I promise you. She just said that she couldn’t help teasing you a bit about the squaw.” She hugged Bastian tight and then told him, “If it helps, think of it this way… in the eyes of the tribe squaw doesn’t mean female, it means the one who makes the home, and sweetie you have definitely made Atreyu’s tent a home. I haven’t seen him so happy and excited to start every day in a long time.”
“And when we are old enough, and have our own house or apartment or whatever, you will still be the one that makes me glad to see each day and each night,” Atreyu told him.
“Now don’t you two go start that stuff,” Lindsay ordered. “Bastian, you are coming with me and we are going to start working on your outfit for the Pow Wow. This leather your mother got is some of the softest and easiest to work with I have handled in a long time.”
“Is Mom here?” Bastian asked looking around.
“No, she shipped this, but she told me on the phone that she and your father want to come visit this weekend if that is ok with you boys?”
“Of course it is,” Atreyu answered.
“Why wouldn’t it be?” Bastian countered.
“Well, we were going to surprise you two, but I guess we can tell you now,” Jack began. “We made a change in our schedule for you guys. This weekend instead of working a county fair on the other side of the state, we are, all of us, going to be attending the gay pride festival in the state capitol. If you boys want us to, all four parents are even willing to walk in the parade with you.”
“We are what… you mean not working at all, as in we can go to the shows instead of hearing them from the distance?” Atreyu asked.
“We are going to be with you, though, so we expect good behavior,” Lindsay quickly pointed out. “I have heard tales of pretty wild stuff going on at some of these things, so just keep in mind that none of us, meaning you two underage even if you are married boys, will be going to any event that isn’t determined to be family friendly.” She suddenly noticed that Bastian was sitting at the table wiping tears from his eyes. “Bastian, sweetie, what’s wrong?”
“Wrong?” Bastian snorted as he kept weeping. “Nothing’s wrong, I just never thought my life would go so right. I can’t believe that just a short time ago, I never thought I would be able to tell my parents that I was gay, much less have a fantastic and sexy husband and wonderful in laws who change their work schedule just to give us time to go to a pride festival.”
“Have you figured out that we love you yet, son?” Bastian whirled around to see his father and mother walking up to him with their arms open wide. His father hugged him tightly as he rushed into their embrace, and then looked over to Atreyu. “I believe I was told that I have two sons now.” Atreyu jumped up and joined the family cuddle happily.
“I knew Lindsay would start blabbing about the pride weekend,” Lesley started.
“Hey!” Lindsay protested.
“So I wanted us to be here to assure you in person that we mean every bit of it,” Lesley continued. “I have already made a sign for the parade. She pulled out her cell phone and showed them all a picture of her holding a sign that said ‘I am proud of my two-spirit son.’
“OOO! I have to make one just like it,” Lindsay announced.
“I want to make sure of what everyone else is wearing though,” Bastian’s father, Edward, announced. “If you guys wear traditional dress, I want to make sure we don’t look like the rest of the Village People.”
“Who?” Bastian asked.
“What village?” Atreyu added.
All four of the adults sat down and stared at the boys. “We’re straight and we know who they are,” Jack told them.
“And no comments about us knowing them because we are old either, because they were before our time as well,” Edward added. “I only heard them on the radio on the oldies stations, well that and I heard about their ‘sinful lifestyle’ from the pastor of that horrible church my parents dragged me to every weekend.”
“Umm.. excuse me?” Everyone looked up at the sound of a new voice. “Hello, my name is Tobi Daniels….”
“You’re Zane’s Uncle Tobi?” Bastian asked quickly.
“That’s me,” the man answered with a grin. “I want to thank you both for what you did for Zane, but I also have an official reason to be here.” He was instantly invited to join the table and introductions were made all around. He then got back to his business. “You see, the men that were recently captured, thanks to you guys, have been found in possession of incriminating evidence that clears up quite a few missing person cases spread out over four states. Six of those cases had rewards for anyone that helped lead to the solution of the case and arrest of the persons responsible. As a duly appointed member of the state police special crimes investigation team, I am hereby authorized to inform you, Bastian and Atreyu, and you Jack, that you will all three be sharing a reward totaling almost $200,000.”
“Not me,” Bastian denied. “I didn’t help arrest them, all I did was get caught by them.”
“Bastian, all six families involved have specifically told me that they insist you get an equal share in the reward to help you recover from what almost happened to you… something that did happen to their loved ones,” Tobi told the teen. “They all know that if it weren’t for you and your family, they would still have no idea what happened to their missing family members. Yes, I know you are family. Besides what my sister told me, I have fairly decent gaydar of my own.”
“Well you have excellent timing too, Tobi,” Lesley told him. “Our two gay boys here need a crash course in gay culture. They have no idea who the Village People are.”
“AHH! Sacrilege!” Tobi exclaimed dramatically. “Ok, there was my flamboyant side. Seriously though, if you are interested in the history of the gay movement and culture, there are plenty of resources online. Don’t trust tumblr or Wikipedia, though. Check out universities that have gay history sites. Make sure you look up the Stonewall Riots. You should also know about Harvey Milk from San Francisco, although he is a bit of a controversial figure. Yes, he was the first openly gay elected official, but there are some who don’t believe him to be a martyr for the gay cause. Some people believe that he wasn’t killed for being gay, but was killed for being a politician. Those people say he had agreed to support a colleague’s proposed legislation, and then backed out due to public pressure. Whatever the truth was, his election and his death caused a momentum in the gay rights movement that can’t be denied. It was a gay pride parade in his memory that saw the first use of the rainbow flag as an icon for the gay culture. I’m sorry, I tend to talk a lot about this stuff, but it is sort of expected, I guess. My partner, Chris, is a professor of American Culture Studies who focuses on the history of sexual minority populations. He and I always do a booth of historical information at the annual pride festival in the capitol.”
“We’re going to be there this year,” Bastian said excitedly. “We’ll be sure to look for you guys.”
“That will be awesome,” Tobi smiled. “Oh, I almost forgot. Lindsay, here is the list of PFLAG chapters in this state that my sister promised to send you.” He saw the looks on several faces, so explained further. “PFLAG stands for Parents and Family of Lesbians and Gays. It is a support group of sorts for the people it is named for, the family members of not only homosexuals, but any sexually non-conforming person. Just so you know, there is a PFLAG chapter from a town not far from the reservation, and they always have the booth next to ours at the pride festival. There are some great folks in that group. Fair warning though, Grandma Greeson will adopt you all. She is the sweetest little old lady. Her son was gay, but died of AIDS back in the early days. She still marches every year, even though she is in her eighties now. I would love to stay and talk more, but it is getting late and Chris will be expecting me home soon.”
“Thank you for talking with us and our boys, Tobi,” Lesley told him. “I look forward to meeting the PFLAG group and your partner next weekend. I would love to chat more as well, but it’s a long drive back home tonight.”
“Oh, you aren’t going to drive all the way back tonight, are you?” Lindsay asked. “You know you and Edward are welcome to stay in the camper with us.”
“Please stay, Mom and Dad?” Bastian asked them with his best puppy dog eyes. “I’ve missed you guys this summer.” Tobi walked away mumbling about whether Zane learned the look from Bastian or Bastian learned it from Zane.
“Speaking of learning,” Edward started seriously. “What are you going to do when the summer ends? You still have a couple of years of school ahead of you, son.”
“Oh, I hadn’t thought of that,” Bastian admitted. He turned to Atreyu with a look of panic. “What do we do? The reservation where you guys live is three hours from my parents’ house.”
“So you already stopped thinking of it as your home?” Lesley asked him directly.
“Well, yeah,” Bastian answered quickly. “I’m sorry Mom, Dad, but it just doesn’t feel like home anywhere that Atreyu wouldn’t be with me.”
“I guess it’s a good thing that I put in for early retirement then,” Edward smiled. “Your mother and I start house hunting near the reservation the weekend after the pride festival.”
“What?” everyone else at the table, except Lesley, blurted at the same time.
“Dad, are you serious?” Bastian asked him.
“I’ve put in my twenty years already, son,” Edward confirmed. “I had thought about keeping on until I was 65, but that is still a good ways away, and I am getting tired of that office every day. Besides, an accountant can always work on his own, taking private clients out of a home office, set my own hours, go fishing with a new buddy once in a while…” Here he grinned over at Jack who returned the smile eagerly.
“We’ll have to take a few fishing trips now and then to recuperate from the shopping trips these two women will no doubt be taking,” Jack agreed, and then dodged a swat from his wife.
“I won’t have to go back to my school?” Bastian asked hopefully.
“No son, you will only have to go back there when we have to meet with the principal to discuss how this matter of your being bullied should have been handled,” Edward said firmly. “Nothing they could do about it, my foot. They have had security cameras in those halls for two years, because I did the tax records for the poor guy that didn’t get paid for putting them in. Took a year and a half for that man to get his money out of the school district. It’s time to clean up that corruption.”
“You know about all of that?” Bastian whispered worriedly.
“My former best friend is on the school board, son,” Edward reminded him. “He couldn’t wait to call and tell me that I had a faggot for a son. I couldn’t wait to tell him that he was a jackass and I was more proud of my gay son than he would ever be of his slu…. Well, anyway, that was the end of that friendship and it really should have happened years earlier. I should have ditched him when I realized that he broke my power drill when he borrowed it, and wrecked my golf cart when he borrowed it.”
“I was so scared to tell you what was going on,” Bastian confessed. “I thought you would turn on me like everyone at school.”
“Bastian, I am so so sorry that you felt you couldn’t talk to me about anything and everything in your life,” his father said quietly, his voice breaking with his emotions. “I have been a terrible father if you were afraid to talk to me, no matter what it was about. Please forgive me?”
Bastian rushed into his father’s arms and both of them wept a little. “Dad, I am sorry for not trusting you with what was going on in my life. I knew deep down that I could always count on you, but I was so scared from hearing horror stories online about guys coming out to their parents and it going badly. I should have trusted that you and Mom weren’t anything like those other parents.”
“We’ve both made mistakes it seems,” Edward told him. “Let’s call it even, and put it in the past.”
“Sounds good, Dad,” Bastian agreed.
“Father of my Sunshine,” Atreyu said nervously. “I present to you a gift as a token of my respect for you and appreciation for the gift you have given me of your son as my partner in life.” He handed Edward the drawing that he had done of Atreyu and his parents. “I apologize for how long it took me to give you this gift, but I didn’t have any livestock to trade for Bastian in the traditional ways. That meant that I had to do something personal to show that I truly appreciate Bastian and value him.”
“I am honored to accept your gift, son,” Edward said formally. “Oh, this is definitely going on the wall of that home office as soon as I get one. Lesley, take a look at this. He got your eyes perfect… just the way I see them.”
“That is beautiful, Atreyu, thank you,” Lesley told him. “So what are you three going to do with the reward money?” she asked the boys and Jack.
Bastian and Atreyu shared a brief look, and then replied in unison, “College.”
“Then my share goes to you, too,” Jack declared. “I was just the back up muscle anyway. Atreyu was the leader of the raiding party. My son will go to art school, and my son in law to a writing school.”
“No, we both go to an education school,” Atreyu corrected. “After talks with Grandpa, we have both decided we want to be teachers on the reservation. Bastian will teach English and writing, and I will teach art and culture. I haven’t learned nearly enough about our people’s history, but I plan to change that.”
“And maybe someday, we will do a book together, me writing and him illustrating,” Bastian added.
“That sounds like a great plan, boys,” Lindsay told them. She looked at her watch and then smiled at Edward and Lesley. “Now it really is too late for you to drive back tonight. Come on in the camper and we will make the extra bed for you two. Goodnight, boys,” she added with a kiss to each of their foreheads. “I will see you in the morning, but we don’t want to hear you tonight,” she teased.
“Yes, ma’am,” the two red faced teens mumbled and then gave their other mom kisses on the cheek. “Goodnight, Dads,” they added before crawling into their tent, yawning.