Written by: (KenW9270)
Nicholas jumped out of the Uber and raced around to Griffin’s side of the car. He put his hand out to help Griff out of the vehicle. Griff took his hand but rolled his eyes. “My leg is feeling fine so far this morning, babe. Thanks, though. You’re the sweetest boyfriend ever!”
“Did you take your pain pill?”
“Yes. I’m good to go. Stop worrying. The wound is healing just about like the doc said it would,” Griffin’s phone rang. He looked at it and smiled but shook his head. “It’s my mom. Again. I better answer.” Griff sat on a nearby bench and answered his phone.
“Hey, mom. We’re still in New York. Yes, I’m taking it easy. No, we’re not just hanging out in the RV. Of course. If anything, he’s more overprotective than you are. We’re always careful, mom. Yes, I’ll take plenty of rest stops. I love you, too. Bye, mom.” Griffin slipped his phone back into his pocket and got up. “Are we ready to attack the day, captain?”
“Yeah. I was just reviewing our plans for the day. First stop, the Metropolitan Museum of Art.” Nicholas took his boyfriend’s hand, and they walked up the steps into the museum.
After they paid their admission, Nicholas grabbed a map of the museum. “Looks like our first stop will be the ‘Art of Native America’ exhibit.” Hand in hand with Griff, Nicholas led the way into the exhibit.
“It’s sad how mean and downright brutal humans can be to each other,” Griffin said as he stared at a depiction of a battle scene.
“Yeah. It was bad enough that the native tribes were sometimes at war with each other, then the Europeans came over and nearly wiped out all of them,” Nicholas said.
“These paintings are so beautiful. Mankind has lost a lot of culture for stupid reasons, and what makes it worse is that it’s still happening.”
“I agree. Our generation needs to step up and do better than those before us. We need to stop all the senseless war.”
“It’s not just the wars. Kids younger than us die in their classrooms and at the mall, and those that survive all of that will probably be underwater in thirty years if we don’t get a handle on the climate crisis!”
“Are you sure you want to be a youth counselor? You’re starting to sound like a politician. Did you switch your major to poli-sci?” Nicholas grinned.
“No. My passion is helping kids and teens who are in trouble or at risk, but we all, as a society, need to be more involved in the political process to make sure we don’t elect the wrong people. I don’t want someone in charge of our country who I wouldn’t trust to be in charge of a dumpster!”
“You’re right, Peaches. This is one of the many reasons that I love you so much. You are passionate about everything. You never do anything halfway. You throw your whole heart and soul into everything you do.” Nicholas leaned in and gave Griff a quick kiss on the cheek as they walked into the next exhibit area.
“Those baseball cards were super cool, Boo, don’t you think so?” Griff nearly gushed.
“The uniforms back then left a lot to be desired. I can’t imagine young players today wearing stuff like that,” Nicholas laughed.
“Fashion, even in sports, has come a long way! Where to next, oh mighty captain of my heart?”
“Our next stop should be a good one and it’ll be our last stop in the museum. It’s called ‘The Last Knight.’ I can’t wait to see all the armor and swords!”
“Oh! I see the entrance right over there.” Griff pulled Nicholas by their near constantly joined hands and led him into the exhibit.
“This armor is impressive! I love the time of the knights. The time of chivalry and romance,” Nicholas said with a dreamy look in his eyes.
“Take a break from the travel journal and write a story about Sir Griff the Brave saving the handsome Prince Boobaloo from the evil giants and their pet dragon,” Griff said with a smirk.
“Don’t laugh. I just might do that,” Nicholas said, looking thoughtful. “Anyway, are you ready to go?”
“Yep. What’s next?”
“St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It shouldn’t take long to see, and I figured you could get some amazing pics of the stained-glass windows for our Instagram. The fans need new content,” Nicholas winked.
“I can’t believe over two thousand people are interested in our travels.”
“And that number grows every day.”
“I’m shocked. I thought we’d be lucky to get a hundred followers when I started it.”
“I think we got half of them from your shirtless surfing pics,” Nicholas grinned.
“Nah. It’s all you, babe,” Nicholas said as they exited the museum. “Let me sit for just a few minutes before we go to St. Pat’s.”
“We’ll take as many breaks as you need, Peaches.” Nicholas reached into his backpack. “Do you want a granola bar?”
The two boys exited St. Patrick’s Cathedral with Griffin scrolling through the many photos that he had taken. “Some of these came out awesome if I do say so myself!”
“Let me see.”
“Here. Look. The light coming through the stained-glass was perfect. We came at just the right time of day, and there isn’t a cloud in the sky today.”
“The statues were beautiful, too. I can’t even imagine attending a mass here. It must be like a once in a lifetime experience every single time.”
“Definitely,” Griff said, putting his camera back in its case and the case back into his backpack. “What’s next?”
“Rockefeller Center. The food court first. I’m starved.”
After chowing down on burgers and cheesy fries, the two boys were ready for more exploring. Their first stop was the Channel Gardens. They wanted to be able to stroll the gardens before they got bogged down with any purchases that they may make in the shopping mall.
“This place is gorgeous. All the flowers and the statues and the fountains, it’s breathtaking. This is exactly the kind of set-up I want for our wedding,” Griff said as he pulled Nicholas in close.
“Wedding?” Nicholas said with a raised eyebrow. “I think we have about five years to plan out the details, my love. I can’t imagine my life without you in it, and I do want to marry you, but we have lots of other boxes to check off first.”
“I didn’t mean tomorrow, Boo, but yeah, I do want to get married, maybe even adopt a kid or two.”
“I do, too. I’m glad we’re on the same page with that. Let’s get you graduated from college first and get my future woodworking business up and running. Then we find ourselves a nice permanent home, though we’ll always keep the RV. Then we can talk about marriage and kids!”
“Perfect plan from my perfect planner. I love you so much, Boo. To the moon and back a billion times over.” Griff leaned down and gave Nicholas a tender kiss.
“I love you, too. More than I ever thought I could love anyone.” Nicholas returned the kiss. “Now, let’s move on before we get kicked out.”
“Yeah, if my career is going to be working with minors, I definitely don’t want to be arrested for public sex!” Griff laughed. They left the Gardens and headed for the elevator. Next stop: Top of the Rock on the seventieth floor.
Nicholas and Griffin walked out of Rockefeller Center with only a couple shopping bags of stuff between them. There was, after all, only a limited amount of storage in the RV, and they planned on making many more stops on their journey. “That was an amazing view, but are you sure you don’t want to also hit up the Empire State Building? Isn’t it supposed to be the best?”
“It is taller, but from everything I read, Top of the Rock has a better view. I mean, you saw it, right? You could see all of Central Park and basically the whole city. It was amazing! The new World Trade Center is taller than Empire State anyway. The World Trade Center and Ground Zero Memorial are definitely higher on my New York bucket list than Empire State.”
“Good point and I wholeheartedly agree. We’re off to the library now, right?”
“Yep. Last stop for the day, other than dinner, and I was thinking of just grabbing a quick dinner from a food cart in Central Park.”
“Sounds perfect to me, Boobear.” It was only a ten-minute walk to the New York Public Library, but Griff did stop once along the way to sit down for a few minutes and get a bottle of water out of his backpack.
“We’ll take a bicycle-taxi back to the park. I don’t want to overtax your leg, babe.”
“I’m fine, Boo. Let’s go inside. I’m excited to see this library! First, I need selfies with the Lions!” Griff laughed and raced over to one of the stone lion statues at the entrance to the library. “This is going on our Instagram for sure!”
After an hour or so, browsing the enormous library, both boys were ready to leave. Nicholas called the cab company, and a bicycle-taxi was waiting for them at the curb. In the blink of an eye, they were dropped off at the edge of Central Park, and they went in search of food.
“The library was so cool, don’t you think so, babe?” Griff asked.
“I could have spent the entire day in there just looking around! I’m glad we went!”
“For sure. Hey, that cart over there has pizza. It smells delicious, and I’m hungry. You wanna just grab some pizza for tonight?”
“Sounds good to me,” Nicholas said, and they got in line at the cart. There was only one person ahead of them, a young guy who looked about their age, maybe a couple years older. The guy sounded like he was pleading with the cart owner.
“Come on, Dave. You know I’m good for it. Just a slice or two. I haven’t eaten since yesterday!”
“How do I know that you’re good for it. You still owe me for the last two times that I was a nice guy. Get outta here, Mason. I have actual paying customers behind you.”
“Please! Hire me to work for you again. I know you need the help, and you know I do a good job.”
“Mase, I’m sorry. I wish I could, but I’m barely making enough to scrape by on my own. I can’t afford to hire an employee right now.”
“Come on, Dave! I swear I’ll pay you back!”
“Mason, I don’t want to, but if you don’t leave, I’ll call the cops.”
Nicholas looked at Griffin and nodded towards the guy in front of them. Griff knew, just by the look in his boyfriend’s eyes, what he was thinking, and he nodded his head to give Nicholas the go-ahead. Nicholas stepped up to the order counter. The other guy, Mason, started to back away. Nicholas lightly grabbed Mason’s forearm. “No. Stay.” Nicholas’ head swung toward the cart owner. “Good afternoon, sir. I would like six slices of the pepperoni pizza, three of those hot pretzels, three large lemonades, and add on to my bill whatever my good friend Mason owes you.”
Mason pulled his arm out of Nicholas’ grasp. “I don’t know what you expect from me in payment, but you don’t have to do that. I… I’ll be ok.”
“I don’t expect payment at all. It sounded like you needed help. I’m helping.” Nicholas shrugged.
“No one does something for nothing,” Mason said with a wary look on his face.
“Nicholas does,” Griffin said, stepping forward. “Hi. I’m Griffin… or just Griff… and yes, this wonderful man would give you the shirt off his back even if it meant that he would freeze. It’s one of the many things that I love about him.”
Nicholas turned around with his arms full of food. “Well, are you two gonna help me carry all this stuff, or will I just have to eat it all by myself?”
Mason still looked wary, but he picked up the tray of drinks and followed the other two boys to a picnic table.
“You didn’t have to do this, but thank you. I… I can’t pay you,” Mason said, looking across the table at Nicholas.
Griffin held on to Nicholas’ hand and replied to Mason. “I already told you. He… we don’t care about being paid back. We just wanted to do something nice. Pay it forward someday.”
“You told him that you hadn’t eaten since yesterday? Do you have a place to sleep?” Nicholas asked.
Mason shrugged. “Sometimes, I stay in one of the shelters. If they’re full, I do the best that I can.”
“How long have you been on your own? What happened?” Griff asked.
“I …” Mason started to say.
Nicholas interrupted. “If we’re too nosy, just tell us. You don’t have to answer anything that you’re not comfortable with.”
“No, it’s ok. I’ve been in between addresses ever since the last semester at college ended about a month ago. I was staying in the dorms, but when my dad cut off payments to the school, the school kicked me out of the dorm.”
“Why did he cut you off? Can’t you go home?” Nicholas asked.
“No. I can’t go home. I’m not welcome there anymore. My dad made a surprise visit to the dorm for my birthday back in April. I was celebrating with my boyfriend. Dad knocked, and my Harry answered, wearing just his boxer briefs. I wrapped myself in a sheet, but dad could tell that I was wearing less than Harry was. He left without saying a word. I found out from the school that he canceled all his checks. I didn’t have enough of my own money to cover what I owed the school, so they kicked me out of the dorm. I have nowhere else to go. My whole family disowned me,” Mason said through tears.
Griff had tears running down his own cheeks. “What about your boyfriend? Couldn’t he help? Maybe not with money, but a place to stay?”
“As soon as he found out that I was kicked out of school, he broke up with me. I guess I wasn’t worth the trouble.”
Nicholas was also wiping away tears. “You’re not sleeping on the streets tonight. Come back to our RV. It’s not much, but it’s home.”
“I just met you guys. You seem awful nice, but how do I know I can trust going back to your place with you?”
“Shouldn’t it be us that’s nervous inviting a stranger into our home?” Griff chuckled.
“True. Ok. I’ll go. Lead the way,” Mason said. Nicholas ordered their Uber, and soon they were on their way back to the RV.
The next morning, Nicholas woke up early. He tossed and turned all night, worrying about their decision to take yet another stray into their home. Then he smiled and nudged Griff awake.
“Uh. What’s wrong? What happened?” Griff started to get up, and Nicholas laid a hand on his chest to stop him.
“Nothing is wrong. Take a whiff.” Nicholas grinned.
“Huh? Ohhh… is that coffee and bacon I smell?” Griff asked.
“It sure smells like it to me. Maybe we made the right choice, after all. Let’s go see what else our new guest has prepared for us!” The two boys slipped on shorts and t-shirts and walked out of the bedroom to see what Mason was up to in the kitchen.