Written by: (KenW9270)
Nicholas woke up and groggily reached his hand out for Griffin. He felt nothing but an empty bed and struggled to open his eyes. 735 am. “Griff, where are you? Come back to bed!” He barely got the words out of his mouth and Griffin nearly bounced into the room and jumped on the bed.
“Get up, sleepy-head! The bus leaves in an hour!”
“The zoo. Ok, yeah, I’m up.”
“I’ll make breakfast while you shower, Boo. We should be ready in plenty of time.”
Nicholas heard voices when he turned off the shower. He cracked the door open, “Griff, is someone out there with you?”
“I’m FaceTiming with Emily. Make sure you put some pants on before you come out here.”
Nicholas heard Em’s voice, “Does he usually walk around naked? You said you guys were together now, but you didn’t say you were like… together like that! I want details!” Nicholas closed the bathroom door. He knew he had plenty of time to get ready, those two could talk forever.
After double checking that the RV was locked up tight, the boys walked the half mile down the beach to the bus stop. Nicholas laughed as he sent one last text before slipping his phone into his pocket. “My mom said for you to take plenty of pics at the zoo. She said that she didn’t follow your Instagram to look at shirtless selfies.”
“I have my camera right here in my backpack.” Griff kinda chuckled, “And yeah I do need better content on my Instagram.”
Nicholas smirked. “Your content is great. Maybe you need variety, but it can’t get better.”As they approached the bus stop, a pair of guys slightly older than them approached from the other direction. One of them, a tall blonde, spoke up, “Hey! It’s the hero from the restaurant! How’s it going, dude? Off to save more lives?”
Nicholas blushed. “You were there? Thank you but I’m not a hero. Just in the right place at the right time. We’re going to DC today to visit the zoo.”
“A modest hero. I like that. Well this is a coincidence. We’re here to catch the bus to the zoo! Oh, hell where are my manners? I’m Ian and this is my boyfriend, Andy. Do you guys wanna hang out at the zoo today? I think it should be a blast!”
Nicholas shrugged and looked at Griff. “What do ya think, Griff?”
“Sure. Why not.” Griff stuck his hand out to Ian. “I’m Griffin, and the modest hero is my boyfriend, Nicholas.” The bus pulled up and all four boys got on. They sat in the back, Nicholas and Griff on one side and Ian and Andy on the other.
“What do you guys want to see first when we get there?” Asked Andy.
Griff pointed at Nicholas. “He is the planner. He even printed a park map last night.”
Nicholas rolled his eyes. “You say ‘planner’ like it’s a bad thing. I just want us to maximize our time and get the most fun out of all these places. We may never do something like this again!”
“You guys on an extended road trip or something?” Ian asked.
“Traveling in an RV. Pretty much wherever we want to go, except we have to have Griff at college by late August.”
“Were you coming from the RV park when we saw you? We’re in that same park! How long are you guys gonna be in town?”
“Yeah we’re staying at that park. Staying another 4 or 5 days.”
“So, what was your zoo plan? We’re almost there.” Andy piped in.
Nicholas took the map out of his backpack. “It says to visit the pandas first or it’ll get too busy, and we’ll never see them. Also, the Bird House and part of the petting zoo are closed for construction. The map is color coded. Our entrance is halfway down the orange section. If we go from orange to green, we can eat next to the lions and then move into purple and back to the rest of the orange section and hopefully be at the bus gate on time.”
Andy was peering over Nicholas’ shoulder at the map. “I love how you organized it. That does look like the best route.” The bus stopped. They were at the DC National Zoo.
“Those pandas were so cute!” Andy cooed.
“Totally! The trip was already a success in my opinion!” Nicholas said.
“Where to next?” Andy asked.
“The bison then the elephants. See. It’s right here on the map.” Nicholas pointed at the map he had given to Andy. The two boys were shoulder to shoulder, peering at the map, walking a little ahead of their boyfriends.
Ian arched an eyebrow at Griffin and nodded toward Nicholas and Andy. “Should we be worried about those two?”
“Nah. Not at all. That’s just the way he is. Nicholas has my complete trust. It’s just that he’s never had a lot of friends. Especially not gay guys our age. That’s why we left our hometown.” He motioned toward the two boys ahead of them, “You have absolutely nothing to worry about.” Griffin stopped to snap a few photos of the bison. “They are such majestic and beautiful creatures. It’s so sad that humans almost wiped them out.”
“I agree. Humans are probably more destructive than anything else on the planet. So, you left home for college, right? Where are you going?”
“Good school. So, will Nicholas go back home after he drops you off?”
“Not right away. He wants to see the country. Our town sucks. We do miss our families, but they understood our need to get out.” Griff said, in between snapping pics of the elephants.
Nicholas walked up and wrapped his arms around Griff’s waist. He looked over at Ian. “Yes, we do have very understanding families. I miss my mom a lot, but like Griff said, I just needed to get out of there. I don’t know if I’ll hit all 48 states, but there’s a lot that I want to see before I even think about going back to North Carolina.”
“Oh awesome!” They heard Andy yell and they all rushed over. Andy was ahead of them at the tiger exhibit and one of the tigers was swimming in the river the zoo had made for them, right up close to the plexiglass enclosure. Griff hurriedly began taking both video and photos.
Nicholas, Ian, and Andy were all practically pressed against the plexiglass watching the tigers while Griff was busy taking pictures. Finally, it was time to move on. “That was so cool!” Nicholas said.
“I can’t believe we saw them so close. They’re way bigger than I thought they’d be!” Andy shouted excitedly.
After they moved on from the tigers, it was time to stop for lunch. They all bought commemorative zoo cups, each with a different animal on it. They devoured a quick lunch of chicken tenders and french fries and iced tea. They began their return trip through the other half of the zoo. First stop: Amazonia.
“I only see one of the Andean bears. Do you see it, Griff? Can you get a good pic?” Nicholas asked.
“I got it. The design on its face and chest is very distinctive. I hope it shows up in the photo.”
“Too bad only one was out. The other one must be in the enclosure.” Ian said.
“I’m just glad you don’t have to quote my favorite Ian and ask, ‘Will there be any dinosaurs on this dinosaur tour?’ We’ve been lucky so far.” Griff laughed.
“Well, if I’m not your favorite Ian, at least you picked a good one in Ian Malcolm. I love ‘Jurassic Park.’”
There were a bunch of small exhibits with frogs and snakes and spiders that Griff was busy taking photographs of, so Nicholas walked with Andy. “Where are you guys heading, Andy?”
“Atlantic City next, then back south. We’ll stay near my parents in Savannah for the winter.“
“Cool. How long have you been together?”
“Three years next month. We met in college. I was a sophomore and he was a senior. This trip is my graduation present. How about you and Griff. Seems like you’ve been together for a while too.”
“We’ve been best friends forever. Literally since kindergarten. But we only recently, on this trip, took the step to be boyfriends.”
“That’s so sweet. You’re both so nice. And gorgeous.” Andy blushed.
“Thanks! You two are too, to be honest.”
Griff sauntered over, putting his camera back in his backpack. “If you two are done flirting, there’s something you should see over here.” Griff was giggling.
Nicholas looked horrified, “I… we… were… not!”
Griff stepped in close and wrapped his arms around Nicholas. He nuzzled his face into Nicholas’ neck and whispered in his ear. “You were, but I know it was innocent and I don’t care. You’re mine. Now come check this out.”
“And you’re mine. Equal partnership. Which exhibit?”
Ian was waving them over. “Oh my God! The sounds are what’s killing me!” He was nearly doubled over with laughter. Nicholas, Griff, and Andy joined Ian and looked into the exhibit. The scene below was of two red-footed tortoises putting on quite a show. The one in the back was obviously enjoying himself. The clicks and clacks of the shells banging together and the high-pitched moans of the turtle on the bottom was making quite the impression on all who witnessed it. Nicholas noticed a mother pulling her young daughter away from the exhibit and say, “Oh honey. look at these cute monkeys over here.”
The four boys were still laughing hysterically when they exited the other end of Amazonia. Griff looked at his phone. “We haven’t quite seen everything, but I think we should end this with the turtle sex show and get back to the bus gate.”
Andy grabbed Ian’s hand and pulled him along. “Today was really fun. We should hang out some more before we all leave.”
“For sure. We can exchange info on the bus. Speaking of which, let’s get on that bus before we get stuck in the city.”
After walking for eight hours in the hot summer sun, all four boys took naps on the bus ride back to Chesapeake Beach. The bus dropped them off just after 7 pm. and they headed back to their respective RV’s.
Once back in the RV, Griffin collapsed onto the couch and kicked off his shoes, while Nicholas started putting stuff away out of their backpacks. “What do you wanna do for the rest of the night, Peaches?”
“Nothing that involves walking, Boo. I’m beat.”
“I’ll throw in some popcorn. You pick us out a movie.”
Nicholas slid in next to Griff. Griff wrapped his arm around Nicholas and pulled him close. “What’d ya pick?”
“It’s called ‘We Bought a Zoo’ I figured I’d keep our zoo theme for the day.”
“Sounds cool. Here’s the popcorn.” Nicholas laid his head on Griff’s shoulder and yawned. “It was a really fun day today at the zoo with those other guys.”
“It was. You decide what you wanna do tomorrow yet?”
“No. We can look at the brochures again when we get to bed.”
Griff started the movie and Nicholas said, “Is that the guy from ‘Under the Dome’?”
“Yeah. Colin Ford. I’ve seen him in a few things. Great actor and pretty hot too.”
“Agreed.” Nicholas said, as he snuggled in even closer to Griffin. The popcorn lay at their feet, forgotten, and both boys were sound asleep in each other’s arms before the movie had ended.