Justyce, Inc. – Episode 8

Date Night Interrupted!

“Woah! That feather is glowing blue just like the meteor rocks. Where did you get that, Logan?” Harvey yelled.

Logan arched one eyebrow at his brother. “That’s what I’m about to tell you guys.” Logan retold his story about meeting Obadiah and what happened the day before when Obie revealed his true nature to Logan. “So, just before the angel police or whatever they call themselves showed up, Obie gave me this feather, and he told me that it would connect us. Last night it started glowing. This morning it led me to the baseball field where I found a huge crater. Then Gavin showed up looking for me, and we noticed the blue meteor rocks. I agree that it can’t be a coincidence. I think Obie came back for me, and he’s hurt. Maybe the meteors hurt him. I’m not sure about that. It has to be connected. The rocks hold power, though. I’ll let Gavin continue the story from here.” Logan grinned.

“Wait! Wait! Wait! So, your new boyfriend is an angel from an alternate dimension and may have been part of the meteor storm that is mutating people all over town?!” Harvey’s eyes were wide, and his mouth was agape. “I thought you guys were gonna think Ash and I were crazy or lying, but now… our story isn’t so weird!”

“Wait until you hear what Gav has to say.” Logan huffed out a laugh.

“Can we hurry this along? I have a date tonight.” Gavin smirked.

Ashton started laughing. “Seriously? All this going on, and you’re sitting there planning a date, Gavin?”

“Life goes on. As long as nothing else happen, yes, I’m going out.”

“Must be quite the girl.” Ash laughed.

“Becky Michaels.” Gav grinned.

“Oh, hell yeah. Continue planning your date. She’s hot!” Ash said.

Harvey rolled his eyes and elbowed Ash in the ribs. “Don’t encourage him.”

“Ow! That hurt!” Ashton yelled.

Gavin shook his head. “Can I continue the story now?”

Ash was rubbing his ribs. “Please do.” Then he leaned against Harvey and looked up into his eyes. “You’re hot, too, by the way.”

Gavin huffed out a laugh watching his youngest brother blush and squirm. “Anyway, after I found Logan at the baseball field, we were attacked by some sort of half-man and half-ram mutant beast.” Gavin retold the story of his fight with Aries and of him and Logan narrowly escaping and running back home. “So, I guess I have superpowers. I don’t know if it’s permanent or if it will wear off, but at least for this afternoon I could shoot ice out of my hands.”

“Wow! Can you still do it? What else can you do?” Harvey asked.

“I haven’t tried, and I’m not sure. I should experiment with it in case anymore of those monsters come around.” Gav shrugged.

“Here.” Ash handed Gavin a glass of water. “Freeze the water.”

Gavin took a deep breath and concentrated on the water. The water froze, but Gavin caused the water to freeze so quickly that the expanding ice shattered the glass. “Oops. I guess I do still have powers, but obviously I need to practice with them.”

“That’s so cool… literally! Wait until you hear about what happened to Ash and me first at the school and then in the park.” Harvey and Ashton took turns with the narrative as they filled Gavin and Logan in on what happened that afternoon. Just as Harvey finished the story, he noticed a text message from Bryson. He opened the text and saw a picture of a teen boy and a message from Bryson which read: “This boy is connected to the meteors and knows someone named Logan. Does your brother know him? His name is Obadiah.”

Harvey looked over at Logan. “Didn’t you say that your angel friend’s name was Obadiah?”

“Yes. Why?”

Harvey handed Logan his phone. “Is this him?”

“Yes! Wait… isn’t Bryson the guy in your story? The psychic dude? Where is Obie?”

“Yes, that’s the same Bryson. I’m not sure. Let me text him back while we finish up our discussions here.”

“Hurry! I have to find him. I think he’s in danger. I can feel it.” Logan gave Harvey his phone back.

Harvey sent out a text to Bryson while the four boys discussed all the utterly unbelievable stories they had just shared with each other. The fact that three of them had superpowers and the fourth was dating an interdimensional angel had all their heads spinning.

————————————————————————————————————

“Be quiet!” Carl Chambers hissed at the other three members of the Zodiac Club who were busy packing everything up in the union hall. “Someone is coming in the delivery entrance. Probably one of us but be ready for anything.” Carl crept into the kitchen, his lion-like senses on high alert. Then he heard voices he recognized, and he stood up as Brent Irons strode in followed by an obviously angry Lisa Jensen.

Brent nearly ran to stay out of Lisa’s way. “Be careful, Lisa. This place wasn’t built to accommodate horses indoors.”

Lisa’s hooves echoed on the wooden floors she walked into the main room. She threw the remains of her bow onto the table. The bow was blackened, and the string was missing. Lisa glared at Brent. “It wasn’t built to accommodate giant crabs either.” Then she looked at Carl. “We need to get out of this building, and we need a plan. There are more people than just us with super abilities.”

Carl motioned toward all the boxes. “We’re almost ready to move out of here. I’m waiting for everyone to get back. Now, what happened to the two of you?”

“We were nearly incinerated. We were in the park picking up some of the meteor rocks and chasing away the picnickers, and all of a sudden there were a couple of dudes with powers. One had superspeed and one was throwing fireballs at us.” Lisa said.

“There was a third one. He was emitting electricity from his body, but he didn’t seem to know how to control it. We left when the fire guy started heating up. It looked like he might explode! If we want to take control of this town, we need to take these guys out before they get better control of their powers and abilities.”

“We have the army to worry about now, too.” Jayden Stone said from the doorway.

Luke Adams walked past his boyfriend and set a handful of meteor rocks on the table. “We didn’t encounter any powered people, but the army seems to be everywhere now.”

“Did they give you any trouble?” Rick asked.

Jayden shook his head. “No, but Luke, so far anyway, can still blend in with the normal. I hung back in the shadows while he gathered intel.”

“Did you hear anything useful, Luke?” Carl asked.

“Yeah. We need to lay low and hide and hope the army eventually leaves. They’ve been collecting pieces of the meteor and taking people into custody that they suspect have been exposed.”

“We’re ready to move out of here. We’ll wait for the last of our group to return, and we’ll leave as soon as it gets dark.” Carl said.

“Where are we going?” Jayden asked.

“I know of a couple of abandoned warehouses down on Water Street that would be perfect.” Carl said.

“I know exactly which ones you mean… I agree. The location should be good, and the warehouses are huge and empty.” Luke said.

Eight heads turned as one when the front door opened again. The five remaining members of the Zodiac Club walked in and Carl spoke loudly.

“Gather around the table, everyone. We need to make some plans.”

————————————————————————————————————

Gavin Kastala scolded himself for being nervous. He had spent the day fighting a mutant ram monster and finding out that he and his brothers now had superpowers. Well, he and Harvey had superpowers, Logan was dating an angel from an alternate dimension! Why should a pretty girl scare him more than all of that!? But here he was, fixing his hair for the fifteenth time and worrying about his date. It’s not like this is the first date he’s ever been on. He’d been on lots of dates.  But this seemed different. This girl asked him out, and she was smart and beautiful, she seemed so far out of Gavin’s league that he didn’t know why she asked him out. She was two years older than him, a senior in college. Gavin offered to get a fake ID and take her out to a club, but she told him that she didn’t want just another club date. She said she asked him out, because he was smart and funny and could hold a conversation about the kinds of things that interested her.

And that’s why he was so nervous. The prettiest girl he knew had asked him out and complimented him. He just knew he was gonna mess this up! He’d rather be fighting the mutant ram-man again! Gavin had twenty more minutes to kill before he had to pick Rebekah up and take her to the restaurant. Maybe annoying his two brothers would ease his nervousness.

Gavin walked into the living room, still fiddling with his hair. The new bright blue streaks in his dark brown hair still confused him. He knew he had ice powers, but why had that caused his hair to change colors? What else was happening to his body that he wasn’t even aware of yet? That line of thinking also caused him to be concerned for Harvey and his friend Ashton. Maybe if Logan could find Obadiah, maybe the angel would be able to explain what was happening. For now, everything appeared deceptively normal. Logan and Ash were playing Xbox and Harvey was busy texting on his cell phone. “Harvs, did you hear back from Bryson yet?”

“Do you think that Logan would still be sitting here if he knew where Obadiah was?” Harvey answered without looking up.

Logan’s eyes darted toward Gavin before focusing back on the game. “As soon as he finds out where Obie is, I’m going to go to him. I don’t care what time it is.”

Gavin nodded. “Ok. We all need answers. I don’t want you going alone, though. I hate to say it, but I want all three of you to go together. Be safe and watch each other’s backs.”

“Should we be worried that we haven’t heard anything new from dad?” Harvey asked.

“I’ve been watching the news reports. His unit is trying to chase down the monsters. We probably won’t hear anything from him until at least tomorrow. He told us to stay in the house, and he expects us to obey. He has no way of knowing about our powers, so he isn’t worried about us.” Gavin said.

Harvey sighed. “We need to figure out how to properly use these powers, so we can help dad and the army. We barely survived fighting our fights against one or two of them, and we know there’s at least six of those things. We fought three and I’ve seen video clips of three others. If they ever showed up all together, we’d be dead.”

“I agree. Our priorities right now are finding Logan’s friend, finding out what else Bryson knows, and then getting ourselves trained. We have to be ready. Right now, though, I’m heading out to meet Rebekah. I want to enjoy my date, but don’t hesitate to text me if anything happens.” Gavin said.

“Have fun, big bro. I’ll keep you updated if we leave the house.” Harvey said as Gavin turned and left.

————————————————————————————————————

Bryson was about to cross the street toward his house when suddenly Erik grabbed the back of his t-shirt and pulled him back into the park. “Hey! What did you do that for?” Bryson asked.

“Look.” Erik pointed. “Aren’t those army jeeps in your driveway?”

“Yeah. I wonder what they’re doing there.” Bryson said as he started walking out of the trees again.

Erik put a hand against Bryson’s chest to stop him. “Geez. Usually you’re the smart one, and you stop me from acting impulsively. Think about it, Bry. The army is looking for these monsters, and your fight with the minotaur has gone viral. Your face is all over social media and the news. They must have tracked you down.”

“You’re right. I was so focused on making sure me dad was alright, and thinking about you and the others, that I completely forgot that I’m the one on the news. If they’re at my house, we have to assume they know everything about me. I can’t just not go home right now; I can’t ever go back home again. At least not and live a normal life.” Bryson frowned.

“I’m not ready to say never yet.” Erik said. “Let’s figure this thing out. We need to talk to your friend and see what she has found out.”

“She must have found something interesting. Harvey’s brother Logan is the Logan that she was looking for. I’ll text them both. Grace was going to meet me here. Obviously, she can’t. I’ll have Grace and Harvey and Logan meet us at the baseball field.”

“Maybe Ash and Gavin will show up, too. We really need to get everyone on the same page and figure out what the hell is happening.”

“Agreed. I sent the texts. Let’s get out of here.” Bryson said and the two boys kept the trees between them and Bryson’s house as they made their way to the high school baseball field.

————————————————————————————————————

Caleb Justyce checked and rechecked all the read-outs downloading onto his computer screen. He had been doing tests on all three of his new patients all afternoon. The two men from the car crash would need extensive surgeries. Caleb had some ideas about that. He needed to make contact with a couple surgeons that he knew that would work off the radar. Brett was definitely going to need multiple amputations. Caleb knew of one surgeon who worked extensively with bionic limb replacements.

The other patient, William, would be an even more interesting case. The only broken bones that William had was a couple of ribs. The man had sustained massive internal injuries and bleeding, though. Caleb already tried a blood transfusion, but that just wasn’t keeping up with the damage inside of William.

Obadiah allowed Caleb to take two vials of his blood. Caleb was studying the properties of the glowing blue blood, and he thought that it might be what William needed. Obie’s blood had strong healing properties. The problem was that there was no way of knowing if William’s body would accept an alien blood transfusion. Caleb shrugged. Without the transfusion, William would die anyway. There was no harm in trying.

Caleb glanced over at the sleeping form of Obadiah. The boy seemed so… human. Well, other than the glowing blue blood and the scars on his back that suggested that he may have had wings. Caleb knew there was life beyond planet Earth. He had evidence right downstairs in the sub-basement of this very lab. That was only a bio-synthetic virus, though. Obadiah was a living breathing humanoid alien. Caleb was so wrapped up in figuring out what to do with Obie, William, and Brett that he hadn’t been downstairs all day to check on what had been his main project until today, a bio-synthetic android that he infected with an unknown alien virus.

————————————————————————————————————

Harvey looked up from his phone and grinned. “Finally! Hey, Logan, I got a text from Bryson. He wants us to meet him at the baseball field.”

“Why there and not at his house? Is Obadiah with him?” Logan asked.

“To answer the first question, we need to stay far away from Bryson’s house. The army is there looking for him because of the viral video with Bryson fighting the minotaur. Bryson asked us not to mention to anyone, especially dad, that we even know him. To answer your second question, no, your friend is not with Bryson. I guess he forwarded the picture to me from his reporter friend, Grace. She is also going to meet us at the baseball field. So, either Obadiah will be with her, or she will know where he is.”

“Ok. Let’s get going.” Logan looked over at Ashton. “Are you coming with us, Ash?”

“I wouldn’t miss this for the world. Besides, if there’s trouble, you may need me.” Ash said.

“The world is definitely getting more dangerous.” Harvey said with a serious expression on his face.

“Let’s just go find my boyfriend. Besides the fact that I’m worried about him, he may know what is happening to the rest of us.” Logan said. The three boys slipped on their shoes and nearly ran out the door.

————————————————————————————————————

In the sub-basement of Justyce Labs, a computer next to what can only be described as an operating table finished running the massive program that Caleb left running when he went to his sister’s house earlier that day.  

“All systems online.”

“Diagnostics complete.”

“Unit operational. Operating at 100% capacity.”

The android opened his eyes and found that he was in a brightly lit room. He blinked his eyes, activating his vision’s operating system. He lowered the visual input brightness by 17% to compensate for the bright lights in the room. Looking around, he found that he was lying on a stainless-steel table in a room where everything was either bright white or shiny stainless steel. He tried to sit up and discovered his wrists, chest and ankles fastened to the table by leather straps. He flexed his forearms and the straps across his wrists snapped with ease.

He pushed up from the table and the strap across his chest broke apart. Then he reached down and freed his legs, so he could finally stand. He made a cursory inspection of the room. There were no windows or doors. One whole wall was a bank of computers. He moved closer to the computers and activated his Heads-Up Display (HUD). “Connect to network – y/n?”

He allowed the connection and new images and data flooded his mind. Most of the data was about him. He found out he was the creation of a man named Caleb Justyce. The location of the rom he was in was the sub-basement of Justyce Labs – Building 1. The file referred to him as ‘Project: Adam’ as he is the first of his kind. He needed to get out of this room and find this man. He needed to find out why Caleb Justyce made him. The file was much too vague. He needed to find Caleb Justyce.

————————————————————————————————————

Gavin pulled up in front of Rebekah’s apartment exactly five minutes early. He was about to get out and go to the door when he saw her come out to meet him. Gavin thought for a second then rushed out of the car and around to the passenger side. He opened the door for her just as she got to the car. Rebekah paused for a minute, looked at Gavin and said, “That was so 1950 of you.” She smirked and got in the car.

Gavin blushed and got back in the car. Rebekah reached over and touched his forearm. “I’m teasing you, Gavin. Let’s go to dinner.”

Gavin smiled. “I just want to make sure to do everything right.”

“You’re doing fantastic.” Becky grinned.

The restaurant was busy, and service was slow. Rebekah tapped her fingers on the table. “This drink is warm. Where’s that waiter? I need some ice or a new drink.” She grumbled.

Gavin pointed to the other side of the room. “Is that the waiter over there?” When Rebekah looked away, Gav touched the side of her glass and willed it to get cold. He only meant to chill the soda, but just like with the water glass at home, the entire glass froze and nearly cracked. Thankfully, this time, the glass didn’t explode. Progress! “Oops!” Gavin said in surprise.

Becky turned back towards Gavin. “What’s wrong?”

“Oh. Nothing. Nothing’s wrong.” Gav said, grabbing the glass before she could see it. “I’ll just go up to the bar and get you a new drink. I’ll be right back.” He hurried away before Becky could see the frozen glass.

They son finished dinner, and they were scanning the dessert menu. Gavin was thinking to himself how great the date was going. Then all hell broke loose. They heard a loud crash from the front of the restaurant and turned around to see a half goat and half woman monster charging through the front window. Gavin cursed. Why the hell was the Zodiac Club attacking a small restaurant in the middle of nowhere? Was it because of him? The other monster said that it could sense the meteors. Were they drawn to Gavin now, too?

“Listen up! I won’t kill any of you if you do what I say. One of you has a blue meteor rock in your possession. I can smell it. Don’t try being a hero. Just give me the rock and you can all live. My name is Capricorn, and I am with the Zodiac Club. Do as I say and you all may live to see another day.” The goat yelled. Her grey furred head darting from side to side, her nostrils flaring. She had small, curled horns growing out of her head which is probably what she used to smash through the picture wind.

Gavin noticed something else odd. There was a woman in a long flowing white dress standing behind the goat beast. At first, Gavin thought the lady was a bystander from the restaurant, but he noticed that she was talking softly to Capricorn. Then, the lady in the white dress began to sing. Gavin felt as if his mind fogged over and he stood up from his seat. He felt compelled to go to the lady in the white dress, but he was able to stop himself. He used every once of concentration that he could. Gavin felt his body go cold, and he noticed his skin was turning blue. Gavin looked around the room, and he saw that nearly everyone was walking toward the Capricorn and her friend.

Gavin could hear the hooves of the goat crushing the tiles on the floor with every step as she walked from person to person and searched them for meteor rocks. Gavin knew he had to get out of there. He had to get Rebekah out of there, hell he had to get everyone out of there. Gavin was thinking up options and silently praying that Capricorn couldn’t pinpoint his location exactly when he heard the goat yell again and heard another crash. He looked over and Capricorn had flipped over a couple of tables and was staring down at a woman on the floor.

“I smell the rock, but no one is giving me what I want even though you are all under the spell of Virgo’s siren call. I guess I’ll have to prove that I’m serious by crushing this woman’s head under my hoof.” The goat said, her light brown, almost yellow, eyes darting about wildly.

Gavin sighed and looked over at Rebekah. “Becky, this has been a great date. I hope you don’t hate me for this, but there’s something I gotta do. I can’t let them hurt anyone. Not if I can stop it. You should leave. Right now. Run as far and as fast as you can.” He got up and turned towards Capricorn.

“Wait! Gavin! What are you gonna do? What can you possibly do to stop her? Get back here!” Becky cried.

Gavin clenched his fists and concentrated. Rebekah watched as his whole body became encased in an armor made of ice. “Hey, goat girl! Come pick on someone your own size!”

Rebekah gasped and hid behind the table, but she watched the whole scene intently. She had no intention of leaving.

Capricorn heard the challenge and answered it. She charged at man in the ice armor.

Gavin put his hands out in front of him and shot a column of ice at the charging goat. Capricorn hit the ice with such force that she smashed through it, but she skidded on the icy floor and only hit Gavin with a glancing blow. Gavin, with his hands encased in ice gauntlets, let loose with some heavy punches at the back and sides of the goat creature.

 Capricorn barely felt the punches. She turned and swiped at Gavin with one mighty fist. Gavin went flying halfway across the room, crashing into one of the tables. Capricorn charged again. This time Gavin aimed lower. The shot to the goat’s upper body didn’t even slow her down, so Gavin fired the icy blast at the creature’s feet. The goat slipped and smashed through yet another table. Capricorn didn’t stay down for long though. She got right back up and stalked towards Gavin. Gavin braced for a renewed attack, but then both the boy and the goat heard the police sirens and the rumble of the army helicopters. More trouble than either of them wanted was fast approaching.

————————————————————————————————————

Coming Soon: Episode 9 – Chaos on the Diamond!

Justyce, Inc. – Episode 7

Logan slid his phone into his pocket and turned off the tv. He looked over and saw his brother grinning at his phone. “Who are you talking to, Gav? Has Harvey answered yet? Anything new from dad?”

“Nope. I haven’t heard from either of them. We should go look for Harvey right now, I have plans later tonight,”

“Plans?! Who are you texting? What are you planning?”

“I’m texting Becky, and I’m planning on a date. I told you that I have a date tonight, don’t you remember?”

Logan’s jaw dropped, and it took him a moment to answer. “Yes, I remember. I remember that you planned on going on a date, but that was before the town was attacked by monsters. It was before dad was called up to active duty. It was before our little brother went missing, and most importantly, it was before you turned into Ice Boy or whatever you wanna call yourself. How can you still go out on a date as if nothing happened?”

“All the superheroes date, don’t they? Like Spiderman and Mary Jane? Or Lois and Clark?”

“At least you didn’t say Spiderman and Gwen Stacy. She was murdered by the Green Goblin. Most superhero significant others have short life spans.”

“Logan, I know a lot is going on, and yes, we need to find Harvs before I go, but I need this one normal thing in this crazy day. You can understand that, can’t you? Plus, Becky is the hottest girl in school. I don’t know why she said she’d go out with a dork like me, but I do not want to screw it up before we even go on our first date.”

Logan raised his eyebrows. “I’m totally not hitting on my big bro, but you’re a hottie, Gav. And you’re smart and interesting. I don’t understand why you don’t have all the girls and half the boys fighting over you. Especially now with those cool blue highlights you put in your hair. They totally match your eyes. Becky is the lucky one, not you.”

“What are you talking about? I didn’t dye my hair.” Gavin reached up to touch his hair as he walked to the bathroom to look in the mirror. He walked back out and stood in front of Logan. “I don’t understand. It must be a side effect of the ice powers.” Gavin shrugged. “You’re right, though. It does look good. I hope it stays like that.”

“Can we go look for Harvey now? If we find him and he’s ok, I promise I won’t complain about you bailing on us and going out on a date.”

Gavin grinned. “Deal.” Gavin reached over and ruffled his younger brother’s hair. “Thank you for what you said. It means a lot. Now let’s go find our little brother.”

————————————————————————————————————

Erik was finally able to turn his flames off, and he regained control of both his mind and body. The first things he saw when he looked around were the emerald green eyes of Bryson Indiana. “I thought I heard your voice, but from inside my head. What’s happening, Bry?” Erik started to wobble a little bit, and Bryson guided him over to a park bench, and they sat down.

“I think it’s those rocks, Erik. How or why, I don’t know yet, and I also need to figure out why they affect different people in different ways. I can read minds and pick up things with just a thought. You… I don’t know… you turn into fire?” He motioned toward Harvey and Ashton. “They both have powers, and then there are the people who have been transformed into evil hulking, brutish monsters.”

“I don’t turn into fire. It’s almost like the fire is inside me. It’s always there waiting for me to call it forth. I’m learning how to control it, but, obviously, I’m not all the way there yet.” Erik said.

“Maybe the people who turned into monsters were already bad. They were doing bad things, and it sounded like they had a master plan. I think there’s more of them.” Harvey said.

“There’s more to it than that.” Bryson looked thoughtful. “There are definitely more of them. I fought one earlier today that looked like an old Greek minotaur.”

“Wait… a bull, a crab, and a centaur. No wonder they called themselves The Zodiac Club. I sure hope there’s not twelve of them!” Ashton quipped.

“That is a horrifying thought, but one to keep in mind. I suggest that we all keep in close contact while we’re figuring this out, for our own safety and to keep an eye on the monsters.”

Erik took a close look at Harvey. “You’re Gavin Kastala’s brother, aren’t you?”

“Yeah. I’m the youngest. I’m Harvey.” Harvey extended his hand and then quickly pulled it back. “Is… is it safe to touch you?”

“I could ask you the same question, electric boy,” Erik smirked.

Harvey looked thoughtful. “Good point! Also, if we’re naming ourselves, I think Thunderbolt makes a more ominous name than the electric boy.” Harvey huffed out a laugh.

Ashton slapped the palm of his hand against his forehead. “Oh geez, what’s next? Spandex costumes?”

“Maybe in your fantasies,” Harvey smirked.

Ash blushed. “No comment.”

“If you two are done awkwardly flirting, can we all exchange cell phone numbers?” Bryson laughed.

After the four boys exchanged numbers, Harvey clapped Ash on the shoulder. “I have to get home and check in with my brothers. We should probably get off the streets anyway. I’m not ready for another fight! Do you need to go home, or do you wanna hang at my place?”

“I have no reason to go home. Let’s go.” Ash looked a little sad, but he gave Harvey a small smile.

“Hey, guys, before you go, do either of you know anyone else who may have come in contact with the meteor rocks? Harvey, what about your brothers?” Bryson asked.

“Logan left early this morning, but he didn’t say anything about the blue rocks. Gavin didn’t know anything about them because when we saw a news report, he looked confused. Our dad is in the army. I’m pretty sure they know something because they activated his unit, and the only one at school that did anything weird was this guy.” Harvey pointed at Ashton and grinned.

“Yeah, the thing with the desk was bizarre, but now I know it was related to the whole superspeed thing I got going on.” Ashton shrugged. “To answer the question, no, I don’t know of any other freaks but us.”

“Ok, guys, stay in touch. Harvey, text me after you talk to your brothers.”

“I will. See ya later.” Harvey and Ash turned and jogged out of the park and took the turn toward Harvey’s house.

As the other two boys ran off, Erik turned to Bryson. “All that power in the hands of teenage boys just trying to figure themselves out. I hope there aren’t many more rocks out there. This could be a global disaster.”

Bryson gave Erik a half-smile. “We’re not doing much better than them. You nearly went supernova! You’re right, though. Someone needs to take charge of this thing. We need to know who was affected and how many rocks are still out there. That’s not even getting into the fact that we don’t know how or why we’re all reacting differently to the meteors.”

“Harvey said the army is involved. Won’t they figure all that out?”

Bryson rolled his eyes. “Never trust the government, Erik. Even if they do figure it out, they’ll never tell us. If they got their hands on anyone with powers, we’d be lab rats for life… or turned into military weapons. I’m gathering my own data, and I have a friend who is an investigative journalist who is also working on a few leads.”

“I trust you, Bryson. That’s why I followed your voice out of the fire.”

“You want me. I knew it.” Bryson smirked.

“Don’t ruin the moment, jerk face.” Erik blushed.

“Let’s go back to my place and wait for Grace’s call.”

“Quick stop to check on my dad, and maybe some burgers on the way? Flying really makes a guy hungry.”

Bryson shook his head and laughed. “I wouldn’t know, but, yeah, I’m kinda hungry myself. Let’s go.”

————————————————————————————————————

Ollie pulled into a car dealership and flagged down a salesman. They looked at a few cars out on the lot, then Ollie asked to see the cars in the showroom. The salesman looked skeptical but agreed. Ollie spotted what he wanted almost immediately. “What about this one?” He said.

“We can check out your loan options and credit reports over at my desk. The sticker price on that one is $78,592.00,” The salesman said.

“No loans or credit checks necessary. How much if I pay cash right now?” Ollie asked.

“No one pays that much in cash. What did you do? Rob a bank?” The salesman laughed.

“I did not rob a bank.” Ollie smiled. “But I do have the cash right here. An extra $10k if you stop asking so many questions.”

The salesman frowned. “I can’t take a bribe. Where did the cash come from? I’m calling my manager over.” He turned to walk away. Ollie sighed and pulled the watch out of his pocket. He pulled the crown and twisted time back just a few minutes. Then he pushed the crown back in.

“No one pays that much in cash. What’d you do? Rob a bank?” The salesman laughed.

“I did not rob a bank.” Ollie smiled. “But I do have the cash right here. An extra $25k if you stop asking so many questions.”

The salesman looked around, then bent closer to Oliver. “Let’s finish this conversation in my office.

A little less than an hour later, Oliver Mills drove off the car lot in his brand-new cherry red Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R with white stripes and a black leather interior. His difficult day was long forgotten; he pulled his phone out of his pocket. “Hey Siri, are there any luxury penthouse apartments for rent in Newville, Virginia?” He couldn’t stop smiling as he drove off into a brand-new destiny.

————————————————————————————————————

Carl Chambers stomped into the main room at the union hall, his lion mane flying around his head. “What the hell happened, Dani? Why are we lugging around two duffel bags full of rocks when it should be money?”

“Beats me, Carl. I saw the tellers fill them with money. I saw it with my own eyes.” Danielle’s eyes nearly squinted shut then opened wide. “There was something else weird. When we went outside, one of the guards aimed his gun at me, and I knocked him to the ground. I swung my tail down to impale him with my stinger, but then suddenly, I was striking the bare concrete sidewalk, and he was twenty feet away. Maybe he had powers?”

“No. If he had powers and could do something like that and steal our money, we’d probably be dead or in jail. Powers is most likely the answer, but I’d bet it was someone other than the security guard.”

Rick Myers turned from his seat at the minibar they had in the hall, and he joined the conversation. “Sounds like you two had almost as much fun as I did today.” He shook his head, his bull horns nearly touching the eight-foot-high ceiling. “What exactly happened? I left before you two decided what you were gonna do.”

Carl nearly growled. “We robbed the Newville Community Credit Union, or we thought we did. We left the bank with two duffel bags full of cash, but when we were on the way here, I opened one of the bags to start counting, and it was full of rocks. I opened the other bag and found the same thing! I have no idea how it happened.” He motioned his hand toward himself and his two friends. “With everything that’s going on, my only guess is there are more powered people than just us.”

“You would be correct in that assumption, and the army is involved already, too,” Rick said.

“Oh, this keeps getting better and better.” Danielle snapped. “What happened with you today?”

Before Rick could answer, the union hall doors burst open, and Jordan Winters rushed in, ice dripping off of his grey fur as he stalked across the wooden floor. Jordan looked at the unhappy faces of his three friends. “Collecting these meteor rocks isn’t going to be as easy as we thought.”

“We’re all figuring that out.” Carl snarled. “Me and Dani robbed the credit union and came back here to find we had two bags of rocks. Rick was just about to tell us about his day when you came in.” Carl looked over at Rick. “Continue your story.”

Rick sighed. “I caught the scent of the meteors right outside the antique shop over by the park. The shopkeepers saw me and tried to lock the door.” Rick shrugged. “I smashed through the door to see them run out the back. They managed to get to their car and drive away.” He kind of chuckled. “I guess I’m relatively fast now. They hadn’t gotten far away, so I lowered my head and charged. I hit the car broadside. I must have been going thirty miles an hour. The car went airborne and flipped a few times.”

“Wow. That’s impressive.” Danielle said.

“Yeah, well, when I caught back up to the car, I expected to finish the two dudes off and take the rocks, but another guy was standing in my way. I think he was reading my mind, and he could definitely move stuff without touching it. He pushed me aside like I was nothing, but then I charged at him and knocked him down. I went to go finish him off, but every mailbox on the street started firing at me like missiles. I shrugged them off, but then the army showed up. I didn’t want to deal with that, so I ran back here. I’m sorry, Carl. I came back empty-handed.”

Jordan reached into his pants pocket and then slammed his hand down onto the table. “I didn’t come back empty-handed, but I didn’t have a good time of it either. We need to go out in groups if we’re gonna go hunting for these rocks or for people they’ve given abilities to.” Jordan lifted his hand off the table, revealing a small pile of blue meteor rocks.

“Great job, Jordan!” Carl said. “What happened, though? And what’s with all the ice?”

Jordan shook his head, melting ice still shaking loose from his long grey fur. “I followed the scent of the meteors to the high school baseball field. Half the infield is a huge crater. Something big hit there, and it must have been bigger than the meteor that we have here. That’s where I gathered these rocks.” He pointed at the pile of meteor rocks that he had placed on the table.

“You sound unsure of what caused the crater, Jordan. Wasn’t it still there?” Rick asked.

“No. Whatever crashed there was gone. Someone got to it before I did. It had to have been big. Maybe the army got it.” Jordan shrugged.

“What about the ice?” Carl asked.

“I was getting to that,” Jordan said. “After I picked up all those rocks, I could smell that there were more. I followed the scent and spotted two teenage boys. I knew they had pieces of the meteor, so I charged at them. I figured I’d scare them into giving me whatever I asked for, but I was wrong. The younger one hid behind the car, but the older one started exhibiting abilities. It looked like the powers surprised him as much as they surprised me, but he created enough of a problem for me that the two of them were able to run away. He could create stuff out of ice, and he could also shoot ice beams out of his hands. He encased me in an ice cocoon, for crying out loud! I could have followed him, but I thought it best to check in here and maybe take someone else with me next time.”

“Interesting,” Carl mumbled, drumming his paw-like hands on the tabletop. “One with psychic abilities, one with ice powers, and whatever it was that Dani and I faced. If there’s three out there, plus the twelve of us, there are probably more.” He gestured at the room they were in. “We need to get out of here before the army, or these others track us down. Let’s start packing everything up, especially the meteor. I know of a couple abandoned warehouses where we can set-up a temporary headquarters until we find something more permanent.” The other three nodded in agreement, and they set to work packing up the union hall.

————————————————————————————————————

Grace was still pacing in front of Justyce Labs and glancing at her phone when Caleb’s car finally pulled up. Grace wondered to herself why Caleb brought a teenage boy with him, but, for now, she pushed that thought aside. “Caleb! Finally! I have a lot of questions that I thought you might find interesting. There was no one else that I could think of that might have any answers.”

“Not even your army contacts?” Caleb smirked.

“Especially not them. Not with this. Is there somewhere we could talk?” Grace’s eyes wandered over to Obadiah and then back to Caleb.

Caleb saw the look and nodded. “I have to wait out here for a couple deliveries that are coming in, but I’ll unlock the door for Obadiah to wait for me in the lobby.” Caleb clapped a hand onto Obie’s shoulder. “Come with me, Obadiah. I have a nice comfortable couch and a tv in the lobby of my lab to keep you entertained while I talk to the nice lady.”

“Will this tv have the same show I was watching on the other one?”

“I’m not sure, but we can check and see.”

Obie stopped and looked at Grace, then continued walking with Caleb. “Do you think the lady knows Logan?”

“I’ll be sure to ask.” Caleb unlocked and opened the front door of the lab and ushered Obadiah inside. After setting Obie up on the couch with the tv remote, Caleb went back outside to talk to Grace. “How can I help, Grace? What is it that you trust me with that you won’t trust the government?”

Grace arched an eyebrow. “I think you may already have an idea why I’m here. I saw that boy’s eyes. Who is he?”

“I’m not one hundred percent sure yet. He showed up at my sister’s house last night. He was injured, and he has amnesia.”

“And you didn’t take him to the hospital or call the police?”

Caleb smirked. “Didn’t you just say that we shouldn’t trust the government with whatever is going on?”

“Very true and very smart. Your sister lives over on the other side of the high school, doesn’t she?”

“Yes. Why do you ask that?”

“I took a walk down that way while I was waiting for you. Have you seen the crater? Looks like something big hit there. Whatever was there is gone now. There were also footprints leading out, but none leading in.” Her gaze wandered toward the boy in the lobby.

“That’s interesting. I will definitely check that out as soon as possible. Things are happening quickly, Grace. Now, what is it that prompted your visit?”

“Did you see the meteor shower last night and all the news clips throughout the day today?”

“I didn’t witness the meteor shower, but I did read about it. I’ve been busy in the lab and with my sister and Obadiah, so no, I haven’t kept up with the news. But I do know that other strange things have been happening. Your call isn’t the only one I’ve gotten today.”

“Check your phone. I sent you a couple video links.”

Caleb’s eyes widened as he watched. Finally, he slid his phone back into his pocket. “I have heard about these beasts, but I hadn’t gotten the chance to watch the videos yet. This is… amazing. Did you see this in person? Is that why you’re here? You’re not affected by this, are you, Grace?”

“I’m not surprised that you’re aware of at least some of this. No, I’m not personally affected, but I am involved. The meteor rocks that didn’t burn up in the atmosphere are what caused all the fires. I’ve seen one of the rocks. It glows with the same blue light that shines in that boy’s eyes.” She pointed at Obadiah.

“I agree that he is involved, but I’m not sure how yet. Do you still have the stone? Did you pick it up?”

“I did not touch it. My friend Bryson Indiana has it. That’s why I’m here. He fought one of those monsters that you saw in the video clips. Bryson has superpowers.”

“Superpowers? What can he do? Can you bring him here? I have already started gathering a few items that may be involved since I found out about the boy. I would love to talk to someone who has been affected and does not have amnesia. It might help me help Obadiah. We need to figure this thing out, Grace. I’m glad you came to me.”

“You were the first one I thought of. I knew that if you weren’t already involved, that you’d want to be. Bryson still has a rock, so if I can get him to come here with me, you can talk to him and get to see a piece of the meteor.”

“If he allows me to examine both him and the stone, that may be key to figuring out what is happening. Now you must excuse me, Grace. It looks like my other guests are arriving.”

Grace turned and saw two ambulances pulling into the parking lot. “Do all your guests arrive by ambulance, Caleb?”

“They were in the car accident caused by the minotaur. The same wreck that your friend Bryson was a part of. One of my associates at the hospital called me to tell me that both cases were highly unusual and glowing blue rocks were among the possessions of both men.”

“How did you manage to get the hospital to release them to you? Never mind. I don’t want to know. What’s with the armored car pulling in behind the ambulances?”

Caleb grinned. “Another oddity. The credit union was robbed, possibly by people in animal costumes. Now, I’m thinking it may have been more of these mutants. A security guard friend of mine called me to tell me that the surveillance footage showed something he couldn’t explain, so he sent it to me.”

“Looks like you’re going to be busy. Are you sure you want me to bring Bryson?”

“Absolutely. Obadiah has amnesia, and these other two are in comas. Bryson could be the key to helping all of them.”

“I’ll let you get to work. I’ll text you after I talk to Bryson.”

“Wait. One other thing. Do you know anyone named Logan? He’d probably be a teenager.”

“No, but maybe Bryson does. Can I take a picture of Obadiah to show him? He might recognize the boy.”

“I took some photos for documentation. I’ll text you one.”

“Thank you. I’ll be in touch soon.” Grace’s phone beeped as she walked to her car. She opened the text and saved the pic which she immediately sent to Bryson.

Grace: Bryson, do you recognize this boy? He may be involved with the meteors. He may                                               also be connected to someone named Logan.

Bryson: He doesn’t look familiar. My new friend Harvey has a brother named Logan. It                           may not be the same Logan, but I’ll send the pic to him and ask.

Grace: Thanks. I’m on my way to your house. Are you there?

Bryson: I’m at my friend Erik’s house. He’s also involved in this. I’ll be home soon.                                  I’ll meet you there.

Grace: Ok. See you soon.

Harvey and Ashton rounded the corner almost within sight of the Kastala house. Ash stopped and pointed across the street. “There’s Logan and Gavin right other there. I wonder where they’re off to.”

“Hmm. They might be looking for me. Come on.” Harvey led Ashton across the street to meet up with his two brothers. “Yo! Where are you guys going? I was just heading home to check in and tell you about what just happened to us.”

Logan lightly punched Harvey’s shoulder. “We were looking for you, you jerk! Don’t you ever answer your texts?”

“Sorry! I was kinda busy. I’ll tell you all about it at home. Let’s get off the street. A lot is going on.” Harvey said.

“More than you know! Wait until you hear about Gavin!” Logan said. “And I have a story of my own to tell. A lot has happened in the last day and a half.”

Gavin spoke up after the four boys were settled in in the Kastala’s living room with snacks and soda. “Well, it seems we all have stories to tell. Who wants to go first?”

Logan pulled the glowing blue feather out of his pocket. “I think my story starts before any of the others, so why don’t I start?”

————————————————————————————————————

Coming Soon: Episode 8 – Date night Interrupted!!

The RV Chronicles (Chapter 37)

Chapter 37

Written by: (DanielJPhoenix2021)

After introductions were made and it was determined that the only damage incurred as a result of Nicholas’ unplanned detour to avoid hitting Oliver was the demolition of the decorative wishing well, Nicholas told Billy that he was confident that, with assistance, he could quickly build another well for his sister’s flower garden. They could simply buy a new one, but for a little more than half the cost of buying one, he could build one in a few hours that would be much sturdier. He pulled several styles up on his phone, and Billy chose the one he felt that his sister would be most pleased with. Billy’s sister was a nurse and wouldn’t be home until the next morning. Wouldn’t she be surprised!?!

Fortunately, Billy drove a Dodge Ram truck and, after securing Oliver in the fenced area of the yard, left with Nicholas to retrieve the necessary materials from the local home improvement store. Mason wanted to go, as well, for entirely different reasons. Still, he was aware that Nicholas was the only one that actually knew what was needed. It would be more considerate to stay behind and help Griffin clean up the remains of the recently and quite unexpectedly dearly departed wishing well … not to mention a few unfortunate shrubs, hostas, Black-eyed Susans, and Shasta Daisies.

————————————————————————————————————

As they headed towards the store, Billy asked Nicholas what tools he would need. “I have some basic power tools, but if you need something I don’t have, you can rent it at the home improvement store.”

“Actually, I brought some of my basic tools with me, along with a couple of fold-up sawhorses. Not sure why, but it felt weird leaving them behind, and they don’t take up much space. This is the first time I’ve had a need for them!” Nicholas chuckled. “I think I’m just gonna need my miter saw, circular saw, orbital sander, and electric screwdriver/drill, so we’re set.”

Less than an hour later, they were heading back to Billy’s house with a quarter-sheet of 3/4″ plywood, several 8′ pieces of 2″x2″, one piece each of 1″x2″ and 1″x3″, a 2-foot length of dowel, tar paper, shingles, sandpaper, and exterior wood screws. Billy had also chosen a gallon of exterior wood stain that closely matched the previous well.

As they pulled into the driveway, it was obvious that Griffin and Mason had wasted no time as all the debris had been cleared from the flower bed and deposited in the spot behind the house that Billy had shown them, while retrieving the wheelbarrow and rake, before leaving for the store. Billy went into the house to gather refreshments while Griffin and Mason unloaded the materials. Nicholas dug into the underneath storage area of the RV to locate the sawhorses, tools, and extension cords that he needed.

————————————————————————————————————

Nicholas canceled their reservations at Seaport RV Resort when Billy insisted that they stay overnight at his house. Since it was late afternoon and it was obvious that they would not be finishing the well that day, the boys were very agreeable, especially Mason!

Nicholas wisely chose to cut all the materials while he had the sunlight, and then they were able to begin construction as the sun went down. The illumination from the streetlights was adequate for the assembly, and the well was completed by 9 pm. They would stain it in the morning after breakfast and after the sun had dried the dew off.

Both Griff and Nicholas had quickly picked up on the not-so-subtle vibes and flirtations that Billy and Mason were radiating towards each other as they worked, so Nicholas casually mentioned that he’d rather sleep in the RV, in the bed he was used to, if Billy wouldn’t think him rude. He slyly winked at Griff as he made this comment.

“OH! Yeah, I agree,” Griffin immediately concurred. “Of course, I need to be sleeping next to my boo, you know!”

“Well, that’s fine,” Billy responded. “I totally understand … not rude at all. Since my sister is at work, that leaves the whole house to us, Mason!” Mason sputtered in an attempt to put words to the thoughts flying through his head but then just nodded as he also blushed several shades of red.

“Since it’s so late, how ’bout I order pizza. Is that okay with everyone?”

“When is pizza ever not okay?” quipped Griffin. “I like anything except the little fishies.”

“How about a couple of ‘Meat Lovers,’ then?”

Nicholas chuckled, “Oh, that’s perfect! I love me some meat!”

Billy snorted, “I’ll order two big ones, then. One for you guys and one for Mason and me. Plenty for everyone!”

————————————————————————————————————

After retrieving a few overnight necessities from the RV, Mason followed Billy into the house, feeling like a 12-year-old heading into the closet for their first round of ‘Seven Minutes in Heaven.’ He wasn’t sure what he thought was going to happen … or what he hoped would happen … but his insides were threatening to come outside.

Billy showed Mason where to deposit his things and quickly phoned in their pizza order. He then showed Mason around the house, ending in the kitchen where he popped open a can of Pillsbury breadsticks and slid them into the oven to bake while they waited for the pizzas to arrive.

Out in the RV, an exhausted Griffin plopped down on the sofa. “I’m hitting the shower before I even sit down. I won’t have the energy to get back up later,” Nicholas said. He did, however, manage to bend over to give Griff a token of his love before heading towards the bathroom.

“If I’m asleep when you come out, wake me,” Griffin answered as he returned Nicholas’ token with one of his own.

“Why don’t you come and join me?” Nicholas said in his best Mae West impersonation, which was pretty bad, and an even worse twerk attempt. This sent Griff into a fit of giggles.

“How can I resist that invitation? Help me up, Boo!”

While the boys performed their ablutions, Billy and Mason had settled in the living room to await their dinner. Mason flipped on the TV and found a Cardinals/Braves baseball game but turned the volume down to whisper level. He could feel the tension radiating off of Mason and hoped this would help create a more comfortable atmosphere for him. Billy wasn’t new to this, but he could not remember a time when he felt such sexual tension … and this revelation startled him. Why was he feeling like this? He only knew that he liked Mason … a LOT … and he didn’t want to mess this up. He had no idea how to proceed.

“So … tell me how you guys came to be in my flower bed.”

————————————————————————————————————

Thirty minutes later, Mason took one of the pizzas and several breadsticks out to the boys in the RV. They were still damp from their shower and seemed to be in an even sillier mood than usual. “Where’s the beef?” Griffin deadpanned as he accepted the pizza offering and breadsticks. “Ooo … those breadsticks smell awesome! Thanks!”

“I need meat!” shouted Nicholas from the living room.

Griff and Mason strolled in with the food, and Nicholas scampered to the fridge to grab a couple of bottles of water, snatching a few napkins on his way out of the kitchen.

“So you and Billy getting to know each other better, Mase?”

“Uh, yeah, I guess,” Mason stammered. “I told him basically how you guys ended up on this trip and how I became a surprise participant.”

“You were meant to be here with us,” Nicholas said. “We wouldn’t have it any other way, Mason. I hope you and Billy have a fun night.”

“And we’ll wait to hear from you guys in the morning,” Griff winked and chuckled.

“Don’t text me … I’ll text you,” Mason threw back as he left the boys to their meat.

————————————————————————————————————

Mason walked back into the living room and made a decision. He didn’t sit on the far end of the couch where he had been sitting before he went out to the RV. Mason sat down right next to Billy, so the two men were shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip. The baseball game was just ending, a 4-3 win for the Cardinals. Mason looked over at Billy. “How does someone living in Connecticut end up as a St. Louis Cardinals fan? Are you from Missouri?”

“Nope. I’ve lived in Connecticut my whole life. It’s a funny story. My oldest brother, who is twelve years older than me, made me pick sports teams when I was five years old. I’m sure that I picked the Cardinals because of the bird. Still, as I fell in love with baseball, Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina made it easy to love the Cardinals.”

“That has got to be the sweetest story about picking a favorite baseball team that I’ve ever heard.” Mason smiled.

Billy turned off the tv and set the remote on the coffee table, then turned toward Mason. Billy reached up and cupped the younger man’s face with one hand. “And you have the sweetest smile that I’ve ever seen.”

Mason blushed and pushed his face against the warmth of Billy’s touch. “I bet you say that to all the guys.”

“No.” Billy stared deep into Mason’s emerald green eyes. “Mase, I’m twenty-nine years old. I’ve had boyfriends, I’ve had hookups, hell, I’ve even had a threesome once. What I’ve never had with anyone is that butterflies in my stomach feeling that I got the moment you stepped out of that RV.”

Mason blushed an even deeper red. “I… I feel that, too.”

Billy’s eyes flicked down to Mason’s full lips before returning to his eyes. “I don’t know how long you guys are in town for. I haven’t even taken you out on a proper date yet. I’m not looking for a one-time thing here. Mase, I…”

Mason closed the remaining gap between the two men and kissed Billy. Billy’s eyes opened wide, and his lips parted as he was still trying to talk. Mason took advantage of Billy’s parted lips to slip his tongue inside the other man’s mouth and deepen the kiss. Mason’s hands were not idle. He pulled Billy’s shirt out of the waistband of his jeans and slid his hand under the t-shirt. Mason’s other hand gripped the back of Billy’s neck, trying to pull him in even closer as their tongues fought for dominance.

Finally needing to come up for air, they broke the kiss. Billy’s eyes were glazed over with lust, but his brain was still in overdrive. “Mason, I’m almost nine years older than you. We haven’t talked about that yet. And, also, I…”

“Billy! I know how old you are. I’m almost twenty-one. You’re not taking advantage of some kid. Stop overthinking this and get naked.”

“But I…”

Mason straddled Billy’s lap and looked down into his eyes. He put a hand over Billy’s mouth. “Stop talking.” Mason took his hand away and kissed Billy again.

Billy pulled back and grinned. “You’re right. I overthink. Let’s enjoy tonight and deal with whatever comes next tomorrow. Grab onto my neck and hold on tight.” After Mason wrapped his arms around Billy’s neck, Billy stood and carried Mason down the hallway and into his bedroom, kicking the door shut behind them.

————————————————————————————————————

Mason opened his eyes and was surprised at how bright it was already. He must have slept late. His thoughts drifted back to the night before. He didn’t have sex with Billy, but they did just about everything else. Mason chuckled as he tried to remember when the last time he had three orgasms in one night was, not counting nights spent with just his right hand for company. Probably high school with Danny Mitchell, but even that didn’t compare to last night with Billy! What a night!

Billy rolled over. “I guess it wasn’t just a dream then. Good morning, beautiful.”

Mason blushed. “That would have been the best dream ever. Even better because it happened.”

“It did happen, and I’d love for it to happen again.”

“Definitely! Again and again and again!”

Billy grinned. “What are your plans for the day? Did you guys have a schedule set up of where you wanted to go?”

“I guess we’ll finish up your sister’s wishing well first. I’ll have to check in with Griff on what they wanted to do next. I’m just along for the ride. This is their trip. Uhm… any idea where my clothes are? I need my phone to text Griff.” Mason chuckled.

Billy huffed out a laugh. “I’m pretty sure you still had your jeans on when we got to the bedroom. Yup! There they are, over by the door. I’ll go shower while you text Griffin.”

About forty minutes later, Billy and Mason left the house and walked over to Nicholas and Griff as they were just finishing up the first coat of stain on the brand-new wishing well. “Hey guys, what’s next on our agenda.” Billy and Mason said almost in unison.

The RV Chronicles (Chapter 36)

Chapter 36

Written by: (KenW9270)

After four amazing days in New York City, which included meeting a new friend and travel companion, the boys were back on the road. With ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ by Steppenwolf blaring from the speakers, they sped along I-95 North and into New England. Nicholas glanced over at his co-pilot and boyfriend, Griffin. “Every day with you is a magic carpet ride.” He waggled his eyebrows and nodded toward the stereo.

“Aw, you’re so sweet, Boo,” Griffin smiled.

“Hey, look! ‘Welcome to Connecticut,’ we are officially in New England. You know what, Peaches, I always dreamed of traveling the entire country with you, but I’m not sure that I ever truly believed we would get this far. This trip is a dream come true, and everything that has happened is beyond amazing.”

“You must be talking about me. Thanks, Nicholas!” Mason quipped.

Griff laughed. “Mason, you’re such an idiot! Why did we bring you with us?”

“Hmm. My charm and good looks? Or was it my cooking skills that won you over? I’m not sure which.”

“Or maybe I just have a thing for strays,” Nicholas said.

“Yeah, that’s probably it,” Mason said. “Anyway, where in Connecticut are we going to stay? I was sitting here looking at all the maps that you have out on the table.”

“We’re going to be staying at the Seaport RV Resort in a town called Mystic. There’s a lot of stuff to do in the Mystic and New London area, plus, I thought we might use it as a home base to also hit a couple places in Rhode Island since it’s so close.”

“This is why he is always in charge of trip planning,” Griff chuckled. “I suggest places to go or things to do, but Nicholas plans all our routes and picks out the RV parks.”

“Well, am I allowed to throw a curveball at you? I found something on the map that you don’t have circled, but it looks really cool. It’s not too far off of our route. Do we have to be at the RV park at a certain time?”

“No set time to be there, but I would like to be there and set up before dinner. Then, after dinner, we can chill out and watch movies or something. I want to be well-rested to start our New England adventures tomorrow morning.” Nicholas said.

“What did you have in mind, Mase?” Griffin asked.

“I’ll text you the link.”

“Oh! This does look cool. Nicholas, do you wanna see a castle and do a little hiking?”

“A castle in Connecticut?”

“Yeah. It looks cool, and the hiking trails look awesome.”

“Put it in the GPS. What kind of schedule are we looking at?” Nicholas asked.

“We’ll get to the park around eleven. Looks like an hour to an hour and a half inside the castle, then we can have lunch and hike for a couple hours. If we leave the park by three, we’ll hit Mystic around four.” Griff said.

“Let’s do this!” Nicholas exclaimed.

“Alright! Thanks, guys. This looks fun.” Mason said with a grin.

————————————————————————————————————

The three boys stepped outside of the Gillette Castle and found themselves on a terrace overlooking the Connecticut River. With the cloudless blue sky and the dozens of sailboats on the river, the view was breathtaking.

“Mason, you have to take our picture here!” Griff nearly squealed.

Mason took out his phone to take a picture, but Griffin stopped him. “No, no! Here. With this.” Griff handed Mason his camera.

“A real camera? Wow. Are you a photographer, Griff?” Mason asked.

“Just amateur stuff. Maybe someday I’ll do more. I do enjoy it.”

“I’ve been checking out your Instagram page, but I assumed they were cell phone pics. The page is amazing.”

“Thanks.” Griff smiled and stepped closer to Mason to show him what settings to use on the camera.

Mason took a few photos of the boys in front of the river. Then a few more in front of the castle. He also took a couple pics of Nicholas and Griffin with his phone for his own memories of a fun day with his new friends.

“Now, we need you in some pictures with us,” Nicholas said. He looked around and found a teenage girl willing to be their photographer. After their mini photoshoot, Nicholas turned to the other two, “You guys ready to go hiking?”

————————————————————————————————————

The boys got back to the RV just before 3 PM. Nicholas and Griffin nearly collapsed onto the couch, and Mason plopped down on the beanbag chair. “That was fun. Some of those hills were steep, though! I sure didn’t get this kind of workout walking the sidewalks in New York City.” Mason said.

“Stick with us, and you won’t need to join a gym.” Griff laughed.

“Yeah, we’ve been rock climbing and zip-lining and hang gliding, and all kinds of different exciting stuff already on this trip!” Nicholas added.

“I can’t thank you enough for letting me come with you.”

“Just keep cooking breakfast, and we’re good.” Griff winked.

“Fair enough!” Mason laughed.

“Back to the road, fellow travelers,” Nicholas said and returned to the captain’s chair.

————————————————————————————————————

An hour later, Nicholas pulled the RV off the highway and started navigating Mystic, Connecticut’s suburban streets. Out of nowhere, a small dog darted out into the road. Nicholas knew he couldn’t stop in time, but he could not bear the thought of hitting a dog. He spun the steering wheel as hard as he could and prayed for the best. Crunch!

After his heart rate slowed a bit, Nicholas looked at his two passengers. “Is everyone ok?”

“Did we hit that dog? We hit something! What did we hit?” Griffin said while yanking his door open.

The three boys piled out of the RV to look for the dog, find out what they hit, and look for any damage to the RV.

Nicholas and Griffin walked around to the front of the RV to have a look around. “Little dog, are you ok, little dog? Where are you?” Griffin called out as they walked. They discovered that they were parked in the middle of someone’s flower garden. The RV front was on top of the shattered remains of what looked like a wooden replica wishing well. The dog was nowhere in sight.

When Mason stepped out of the RV’s back door, the little dog sat there looking up at him. It was an adorable basset hound. Mason dropped to his knees and hugged the dog. “Oh, thank goodness you’re ok, little guy!” The dog wagged its tail and started happily licking Mason’s face. Mason heard someone approach, and he looked up and nearly fainted. The guy standing over him was the hottest guy that Mason had ever seen. The curly black hair and dark brown eyes melted Mason’s heart in an instant.

Mason leaped to his feet. “Is this your dog? Is this your house? I’m so sorry, sir, I don’t know what happened! It was totally an accident!”

“Sir?” The guy chuckled. “I don’t look that old, do I? I’m only twenty-nine! But, yes, that’s my dog. My baby, Oliver. It’s my sister’s house, though.” He stuck out his hand. “My name is Billy. I’m glad that you’re ok. That sounded like a hell of a crash. We should check on your friends… and my sister’s wishing well.”

Mason took Billy’s offered hand and shook it. “Hi, Billy. I’m Mason. I am so relieved that we didn’t hit your dog! I hope we didn’t cause too much damage!”

“The main thing is that all three of you are ok, and Oliver is ok. Ollie seems very taken with you. He’s not always that friendly with strangers. In this case, I don’t blame him one bit. I’m actually a little jealous of the attention he’s getting.” Billy smirked.

Mason blushed and surprised himself by responding. “You’re not going to start wagging your tail and licking my face next, are you?”

“Not unless you ask me nicely.” Billy grinned and waggled his eyebrows. “Now, let’s go check on your friends.” Billy turned and walked toward the front of the RV.

The RV Chronicles (Chapter 35)

Chapter 35

Written by: (Flash2002)

Nicholas and Griffin and Mason decided to have a wonderful last day in New York City. They planned to spend the day in Manhattan. “Hey babe, how about we visit the King Kong building this morning and then hit up a few museums and the 9/11 tribute monument to pay our respects. Later, we can go to Times Square and see the wild and crazy nightlife with all the bright lights, and we can end our night with a concert outside of the MTV studio. Imagine Dragons will be there!” Said Griffin.

Mason chimed in and said, “Wow! That sounds like an amazing day!”

Nicholas retorted, “Ok, but we have to be back earlier than usual because we have some traveling ahead of us tomorrow.” The guys ate breakfast, showered, and got ready to set out on their day’s adventure. While Nicholas was in the shower, Mason approached Griffin because he noticed tears in Griff’s eyes. “Griff, are you ok? I mean, you look so sad. What’s up? It seems like you guys have a rather good thing going here.”

Griff looked up and said softly. “I don’t want to leave Nicholas to go to school. I’m really loving our time together, and if I leave now, he might find somebody else. He’ll forget me and move on, Mason.”

“Do you really think that? There’s no way in hell that I could see him doing that to you. You guys love each other so much. I can see that in just the short amount of time that I’ve known you!” Mason said while hugging Griff.

“I know you’re probably right. Thanks, but I can’t help feeling sad. Just don’t let Nicholas know, please. I want him happy all the time for as long as possible.”

Mason glanced up and said, “My lips are sealed.”

About that time, Nicholas walked in. He looked hot and smelled delicious, Griff thought. Nicholas was singing “Radioactive” and leaned in and kissed Griff. “Let’s go, y’all. Full steam ahead.” Nicholas said.

The guys hopped on the subway headed towards Manhattan. First stop, what Griff referred to as the King Kong building, the Empire State Building. They had gotten tickets ahead of time, so they took the elevator up as high as they were allowed to and gazed out at the New York skyline. It was an exhilarating feeling, seeing everything so huge look so small. It took their collective breath away.

Next up, the guys stopped at a building that has always had Nicholas in awe of how it was built. It was called the Vessel. It was a marvel to behold and had a fantastic view from the top.

Next on the agenda was a quick stop at J.P. Morgan’s massive library. They browsed the library and read about how J.P. Morgan had built it and allowed people to visit and use the library for free until his death. After an hour, the three boys decided to move on to the next item on their list for the day.

The guys stopped and took a quick snack break. They ate the sandwiches they had packed in their backpacks and washed them down with some bottles of water. “I want to thank you both for taking me along on your adventure today. I’m having so much fun with you guys!” said Mason.

“You are more than welcome. We are enjoying your company, too.” Nicholas said enthusiastically.

“Ok, next up a quick stop to look around Grand Central Station, and then on to the 9/11 monument!” Griff said. “Let’s get a move on it. We have a schedule to keep!”

“The utter majesty of this place is unbelievable, and it is so freaking busy! I can’t see how they keep everything running so smoothly!” Mason said.

“Great observation, but we can’t stay long. We need to get to the 9/11 monument.” Griff said, touching his watch.

“Well, we are on hallowed ground, and you know it brings back so vividly how, even though we live in America, we are safe, but anything can happen in the blink of an eye! Life as we know it can change instantly!” Nicholas said to the other two boys.

“That is such a deep thought, babe,” Griffin said with tears running down his cheeks. “Too many beautiful people died needlessly that day, and we, as a nation, will never forget it.”

Then Mason said, “Let’s pause for a moment of silence for us to honor the dead and the many still affected by this awful tragedy.”

The guys then stopped at Central Park. It is such an iconic park. Crowded with people and their pets, as well as joggers, bikers, and skateboarders. So many great sites to see! Trees, lakes, and flowers lined bridges and walkways. So much to take in such a short amount of time! The guys stopped to rest for a few minutes. Mason sat quietly while Nicholas took notes in his journal, and Griff took photos for their RV Chronicles page on Instagram.

“Kiss me, babe, so I can say we kissed in Central Park,” Nicholas said, grinning slyly at Griff.

“Gladly,” Griffin said with a smirk as he moved in. The kiss was long, deep, and passionate.

Mason chimed in, “You guys are so lucky. I hope one day soon, I can have that with somebody. You are so good for each other, and you can just see the love in your eyes. Wow!”

Blushing, Griff said, “I think that you are a great guy, Mase. You’ll find someone special one day.”

“Thanks, Mason. I do love him very, very deeply.” Nicholas said.

They walked to Times Square next. It was dark out now, but the whole area was lit up like it was the middle of the day. “Can you imagine being here at Christmastime? Or New Year’s Eve?” Griffin said excitedly.

“Yeah!” Nicholas yelled. “Even now, look at all the big screen TV’s and people dressed up as different cartoon characters!”

“It’s hard to stay focused on any one thing! There’s so much going on. I bet that because of the free outdoor concert tonight, it is even more packed than usual!” Mason added.

The hustle and bustle of bright city lights were overwhelming the guys. “We are right up by the stage. Awesome! We got here early enough to get great spots! You can see the ABC News studio right over there, and look at MTV! Wow, it’s even more packed over there.”

“Right after Imagine Dragons performs, we will head back to the RV, so we can get some sleep before we head out tomorrow.” Nicholas reminded the other two.

The guys bought drinks and food and then the show started. The whole crowd yelled and screamed the entire time. It was a fantastic show. As the guys headed back home, Griffin lagged behind. Now that the hustle and bustle of day was over, he was filled with sadness again, just thinking about leaving the love of his life to start college. “I really want to go to school, but at what cost? Do I really want to abandon this awesome adventure with the one person who I love the most in all the world?” These thoughts and many others crossed Griff’s mind as he shoved his hands into his pockets and hurried to catch back up to Nicholas and Mason.

The RV Chronicles (Chapter 34)

Chapter 34

Written by: (DanielJPhoenix2021)

While devouring a scrumpdeliliciomous (“It’s a word … look it up!” insisted Griffin) breakfast prepared by Mason, the boys filled him in on their plans for their third day in New York City.

“We’re going to stroll around Greenwich Village this morning and then visit Alphabet City after lunch. You don’t have to come with us, but you’re certainly welcome to,” Nicholas offered. “We realize you’ve probably seen all of these places already. If you’d rather just Netflix and chill here, that’s fine.”

“If you’re serious and really don’t mind a third wheel, I’d love to tag along,” Mason smiled enthusiastically. “I went to school in Upper Manhattan, Columbia University, and never made it down as far south as Greenwich and Alphabet City. I always meant to but just never got around to it. It seems like you always think you have plenty of time to do things like that … then you don’t.”

“Well, alright, then. You hit the showers while Griff and I clean up breakfast and we’ll head for the subway.”

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“Which way?” Griffin inquired of Nicholas, as he was the most qualified navigator amongst the threesome. They had emerged from the subway into a bright, cloudless day. Nicholas had his cellphone GPS while Griffin had his camera at the ready.

“You two are quite the pair,” chuckled Mason. “Two halves of a whole if I’ve ever seen it!”

“Oh, we work well in tandem on so many levels!” Griffin agreed.

“Okay, let’s head that way. Just up the street a couple of blocks is the Stonewall Inn,” Nicholas directed. “As I’m sure you both know, that’s pretty much where the Gay Civil Rights Movement started.” He pulled up a website and began to give some background history as they walked.

“The Stonewall Inn was a bar known for serving gay and lesbian patrons. In 1969, serving alcohol to gay men and women was illegal in 49 of the 50 states, including New York.”

“Unbelievable,” mumbled Griffin.

“The Stonewall didn’t care about the law because it was run by the Mafia,” Nicholas continued. “The gay community around Greenwich Village was growing tired of their oppression. The local police were increasing the number of raids on bars who served gay patrons. On the night of June 28, 1969, the police raided the Stonewall Inn. As the patrons left the bar, they didn’t disperse as ordered by the police. They stayed outside, and a commotion began. Patrons from other bars and residents from the neighborhood gathered to see what was happening. Tensions built, and at one point, people, gay and straight, who were gathered around the Stonewall, began throwing pennies at the police because pennies are made of copper and “copper” was a derogatory term for the police. NYPD Riot Police arrived and confronted the crowd and arrested protesters. The next night, people showed up to see what was going to happen and emotions flared again into another night of rioting, as well as the next night. The riots got a lot of attention in the news. Leaders of the gay and lesbian community were finally able to find widespread support for organizing the fight for their civil rights. A year later, on June 28, 1970, the first gay civil rights parades were held in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.”

“Obviously, that’s why June is now Pride Month,” Mason added, “with Pride Parades all over the world.”

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Following their visit to The Stonewall Inn, the boys strolled up Bedford Street to view the building used for the exterior apartment shot of Nicholas’ favorite sitcom, “Friends.” Of course, there is no actual ‘Central Perk’ on the ground level, but there is a restaurant called ‘The Little Owl.’ Several pics were taken to post on their Insta page.

Approaching an intersection as they continued their stroll, Griffin suddenly shouted, “Bleecker Street!”

“What the what?” a startled Mason stuttered.

“Care to explain yourself, Peaches?”

“I just remembered that AJR live in Chelsea, which I think is just north of Greenwich and got their start performing in Washington Square Park which is right around here somewhere,” Griffin attempted to explain while looking around as if he could see the park from where they were standing. “One of my favorite songs is ‘Growing Old on Bleecker Street,’ and I’ve read there’s a lot of history on this street.”

“Who and/or what is an AJR?” a perplexed Mason inquired.

“AJR is Griffin’s favorite band. They’re three brothers, Adam, Jack and Ryan, and they have really fun, perky songs. They’re awesome,” Nicholas filled in. “We’ll listen to some tonight when we get back home.”

Griffin had Mason take his pic while standing under the street sign as Nicholas pulled up the Wikipedia page for Bleecker Street to see if there was anything of interest to see. Of course, Griffin insisted that they walk at least a few blocks up the street.

“This says Robert DeNiro grew up on Bleecker and Herman Melville lived here as a boy, too. John Belushi and Alicia Keys have also lived here,” Nicholas said. “Washington Square Park is just a couple of blocks that way, Griff. Let’s head in that direction.”

So the guys spent the remainder of the morning sightseeing and people watching, especially the many street performers in the park until Griffin’s belly rudely informed everyone that it was time to locate sustenance. They chose to head east from the park towards Alphabet City, where they planned to spend the afternoon and found themselves at the campus of New York University.

They decided to lunch at Phebe’s, and while waiting for their orders, Nicholas continued his ongoing research and background history narration. “So we’ll spend the rest of the day in Alphabet City which, of course, is called that because Avenues A, B, C, and D run through it. It’s part of the larger East Village.”

“That’s where the Broadway musical ‘Rent’ takes place, right?” asked Mason.

“Yeah, Nicholas and I have always wanted to see that live, but when the touring show came through North Carolina, the tickets went on sale the week Boo’s dad died and sold out in a couple of days,” Griffin solemnly explained. “We do have the DVD of the movie version, though, and we both know every word of every song.”

“That’s really my primary reason for wanting to walk around Alphabet City,” Nicholas continued. “The plot and many of the characters in ‘Rent’ are based directly on characters from Puccini’s opera, ‘La Boheme,’ but it’s a rock opera set in the East Village and Alphabet City in the late 1980s during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It’s basically about young artists and performers struggling to survive and pay their rent to keep from becoming homeless.”

The discussion continued as the boys’ food arrived, and they scarfed down every morsel. Nicholas took care of the bill and they headed out into the bright midday sunshine continuing their eastward trek across Lower Manhattan.

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During his research, Nicholas came across The Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space located on Avenue C, which he thought would be interesting to investigate. The threesome casually strolled around Tompkins Square Park, the site of another famous riot in 1988 when police attempted to remove the many homeless people that had begun squatting there. The park was quite crowded due to the beautiful summer weather, and Griffin was able to take many nice pictures to add to their Instagram travel journal.

“So what exactly does a Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space have that people would want to see,” inquired Mason.

“Well, what I get from their website is it educates about the history of the area. Apparently, during the recession in the 70s, most of the buildings were abandoned by their owners even though many people were still living in them and had businesses in them. Many of the artists, musicians, and activists, like are depicted in ‘Rent,’ refused to leave and, instead, reclaimed the spaces. They repaired the buildings the best they could and continued living in them. They made community centers for the artists and performers, too. Their site says it was created ‘to preserve the history of New York City’s Lower East Side and promote the local communities that came together in order to make the neighborhood a cultural icon.’”

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They spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around East Village, including a stop at the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop and perused the many eclectic shops. As they strolled up East 7th Street, Griffin noticed a shop called East Village Hats and instantly got such a brilliant idea he nearly peed his pants! However, he needed to ditch Nicholas first.

Fate was smiling on him as Nicholas said, “Let’s pop in here. They’ve got some really cool stuff in the windows.” He was referring to what looked like a punk rock apparel shop called Trash and Vaudeville.

“Uh, yeah … you guys go ahead. I was just thinking I need to find something for my mom’s birthday next week so I can get it in the mail. I’m going to check out this place across the street, AuH2O, and see what they have. Text me when you’re done, and I’ll meet you back here.” Griff started across the street towards AuH2O, glancing behind to watch Nicholas and Mason head into Trash and Vaudeville. When he was confident they were out of eyesight, he veered towards East Village Hats.

He was quickly able to complete his mission and had not heard from Nicholas, so he discretely scooted next door into AuH2O and browsed for something for his mom, as her birthday really was next week. He found a beautiful bracelet, and the clerk said they would be glad to wrap it and ship it to his mom for a small fee. This thrilled Griffin but he inquired if he would be able to get one of their shopping bags to conceal his East Village Hats bag in. After explaining, the clerk agreed to his unusual request.

Griffin emerged from the shop, carrying his AuH2O bag, as Nicholas and Mason were crossing the street towards him. “I just thought we’d meet you over here rather than texting you. I figured you were still shopping since you hadn’t texted us,” Nicholas shrugged and nodded towards Griffin’s bag. “I see you found something for your mom.”

“Yeah, she’s gonna love it,” Griffin said. “I’ll show you later.”

The boys began to make their way towards the subway terminal that would lead them home. They grabbed Polish sausages from a food truck to tide them over until they got home. Mason had promised to whip them up a great dinner in exchange for their including him in their day’s activities and buying his lunch.

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That evening, after an amazing dinner prepared by Mason, all three boys relaxed in the living room with Nicholas and Griffin, of course, wrapped together on the sofa. Soon, however, Mason fell asleep in the bean bag chair, so Griffin suggested they move to their bedroom and get more comfortable. “I’ll show you my package,” he winked and giggled.

As Nicholas flopped on the bed, Griff pulled out a perfectly wrapped box from his shopping bag and handed it to him.

“What is it?” he asked.

“Open it and see,” Griffin replied.

“It’s your mom’s birthday gift. Why would I open it? Just tell me what it is.”

“That’s not her gift. The shop is wrapping and shipping her gift directly to her.”

“Then what is this?” Nicholas asked again, though he had a suspicion that Griffin was on the same train he was.

“It’s your anniversary gift, Boo. Happy One Month Anniversary!” he answered before planting a huge kiss on Nicholas’ grinning lips.

“You remembered!” Nicholas exclaimed as he tore into the gift and pulled out an exquisite black fedora with a dark purple ribbon band. He jumped straight up in the air, almost hitting his head on the ceiling. “Jiminy Christmas! It’s perfect! I love it, Peaches!”

“I know you’ve been wanting one ever since you became obsessed with James Bay and his iconic hat. When I saw the shop today, the idea hit me. I really did need to get my mom a gift, so I used that as a cover when I saw the hat shop.”

“I love it more than you will ever know!” Nicholas gushed. “Now, you sit down right here. I’ve got a little somethin’-somethin’ for you, too.”

A surprised Griffin sat and accepted the wrapped box that Nicholas pulled out of his bag. When he opened it, his eyes showed his delight.

“Happy Monthiversary, Sweet Peach,” Nicholas whispered as he softly kissed Griffin on his delicious lips. Griffin slowly pulled out a leather belt with a sterling silver infinity love symbol buckle, a matching leather bracelet with the same symbol, and a sterling silver infinity ring.

“They’re beautiful and perfect. My love for you is for infinity and beyond,” Griffin glanced up at Nicholas with tears in his eyes. “One month down and infinity to go! Now close that door, so we can get naked and end this month and start infinity with a bang!”

“If we do this right, we should be able to manage several bangs!” Nicholas cracked.

The RV Chronicles (Chapter 33)

Chapter 33

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.

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“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.

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“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?”

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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.”

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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.

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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!”

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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.

The RV Chronicles (Chapter 32)

Chapter 32

Written by: (Flash2002)

‘Good Morning, Vietnam’ sounds off, waking Nicholas up as his alarm loudly blasts a funny set of jokes from the movie. Sleepy eyed, he wandered through the RV. Griffin popped out of nowhere, with the sound of ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ in the background. With one click of a button, the music changed to Frank Sinatra. Griffin grabbed his top hat and sang along with Ol’ Blue Eyes, “If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere! New York, New York!” Griffin danced and grabbed Nicholas.

They danced around a bit, and Griffin pulled Nicholas close and planted a big kiss on him. “I know it’s cheesy, but we are in the biggest most beautiful city in the USA. I wanted to make it special. Hurry up and get ready. We’re going to have a private breakfast cooked for us by Bobby Flay at his restaurant,” Griffin said.

“Awe. Oh my God, silly. You make every day special for me, Peaches. How did you arrange for that?” Nicholas asked.

“Well, one of the chefs that works with Bobby is a friend of mine from surfing, and he arranged it for us. We’re gaining a big following on our RV Instagram, and Bobby Flay actually follows our journeys!” Griffin said excitedly.

“Ok, but just remember we have to take it easy today, so you can take care of your wound, Peaches. We have to get you better.”

The guys hurried around to get ready and left for breakfast. They were greeted by Griff’s friend, Roger, who escorted them to their table.

“Hi, guys. Your breakfast is almost ready, and Bobby said that he hopes you enjoy it and apologizes for not meeting you, but he has a few meetings at the Food Network studios today,” Roger said.

“Thanks, buddy. I appreciate it,” Griff replied.

The boys ate a big spread and everything tasted delicious. They finished up and thanked the staff. Griffin hugged Roger and told him to call him sometime to go surfing.

“Well, babe, it’s time to go look around in Chinatown. We’ll take in all the sights, and then we will eat at a world-class Chinese restaurant this afternoon for lunch,” Griff said.

The guys hopped on the subway, which was a whole different world in itself. “Look at all the street performers. They all have such unique entertainment qualities. I could listen and watch all day,” Nicholas said.

“Yeah, I know, but we have to get to the temple and look at the artwork and giant Buddha statue,” Griff said intently.

They hurried onto the subway train and saw a wide variety of cultures. It truly showed how diverse the races are here in New York. They disembarked from the train and climbed the steps, and were greeted by a sign that said, “Welcome to Chinatown.”

“Alright, now let’s head to the temple and look around, but we have to go slow. My leg is starting to hurt a little bit,” Griff said with a painful face.

“Aww. No hurries, Peaches. We can go at your pace. I want my babe to feel okay and be able to have fun,” Nicholas said.

On the way to the temple, the guys stopped and shopped at the markets. There were so many and both Nicholas and Griffin bought a lot of stuff from food to shirts to toys. Everyone was so cool and very polite. Nicholas got a bike cart guy to transport them around so they wouldn’t have to carry a lot of stuff and so Griff could take the pressure off of his hurt leg.

“Aww. Sweetie, oh my God, that is so sweet of you. You’re always thinking of me,” Griff said with love shining brightly in his eyes.

They went the many blocks to the temple and, when they arrived, they got to see the monks put on a show with dancing and mock fighting that included lots of flips and tricks. It looked like something out of the movies. “Wow, this is awesome, Boo. I really enjoy watching good group choreography, even with monks,” Griffin said.

“My mouth has been wide open, especially with how well they fly around and how fast they are. The show is done. Let’s head into the temple now,” Nicholas said.

“These things are carved out of ivory. I’m astonished and amazed at how talented these guys are,” Nicholas said excitingly.

“Let’s go grab lunch at the 5-star Chinese restaurant, Wo Hop. I put the address in my GPS. It’s at 17 Mott Street. I hear it’s possibly the best in New York City,” Griffin said.

“I’m all for it, Peaches,” Nicholas said. They rode over to the restaurant and were seated right away. Griffin had called ahead to make a reservation.

They ordered appetizers of dumplings and pot stickers. Both guys devoured them, but also fed each other and snuck in a few light kisses. It was time for their main course and, boy oh boy, they brought lots of food. Griffin had Angus beef fried rice and Angus steak and broccoli. Nicholas had the orange chicken noodles and strawberry chicken egg rolls. It took them a little while, and they couldn’t finish the food, so they took to-go boxes. The guys both shared cheesecake and took turns feeding each other again. Yes, it was quite pricey, but it was the best Chinese food they had ever eaten. They got some souvenir chopsticks to take home.

Now it was time to read their fortune cookies. Griffin opened his up. It said, “The time is coming where you have to make an important decision. Use your heart to decide the answer.” Griffin shrugged his shoulders and looked over at Nicholas. Nicholas read his out loud, “The road is short and narrow with changing paths. Choose wisely because your destiny awaits.” Nicholas was confused but liked the fortune.

“Wow. These fortunes are really deep. Usually, I just get cheesy ones,” Griff said.

“On to SoHo to do some shopping and sightseeing,” Nicholas said.

“Plus, I got us on the list to go to a nightclub party from the party promoter at Entertainment Weekly. There are supposed to be some celebrities attending!” Griff said.

“Way too cool, but no alcohol for us,” Nicholas said.

The guys headed toward SoHo. When they arrived, they rented a locker for all the stuff they bought in Chinatown. The guys were now ready to go have some fun.

After a full day of sightseeing, Griffin’s leg started to hurt, so they stopped and redressed the wounds, and he took a pain pill. They got nice clothes out of their locker and changed for the VIP party. “Tao Club is where it’s being held. Let’s go!” Griff said.

“Hey, look, they even have a red carpet set up! Fancy! Let’s see if we fit in or if we are out of our element,” Nicholas walked up to the security guy at the front door. “We’re Griffin Roberts and Nicholas Daniels. We should be on the list,” Nicholas said.

“Let me look. Yes, you are. Go on in,” the security guard said as flashbulbs flashed, and people took pictures of the boys.

As they entered the club, they saw news people and celebrities mingling about, and both boys felt intimidated. Some of their favorite stars were nearby. Jon Bon Jovi waved at the guys. Then Bette Midler walked by looking so divine. After watching lots of people and eating snacks and desserts and drinking water and soda, the boys danced for a while. Then Griff’s leg gave out and he had a little bit of leakage through the bandage, so both guys agreed to leave and head back to the RV. Nicholas let Griffin put his arm around him and helped him out. Then as they were leaving, Robert Downey, Jr. approached them and said, “Let me get my driver to take you guys home. He looks like he’s hurting.”

“Sure, thanks man! I appreciate that,” Nicholas said.

They arrived back at the RV and talked about their day, and Nicholas helped to clean and medicate Griff’s leg. Griffin was so happy he kissed Nicholas and pulled him close. After Griff was rebandaged, they relaxed on the couch and snuggled and cuddled while they watched TV.

“I wouldn’t want it any other way but right here and right now in this very RV with you in my arms!” Griffin said with a twinkle in his eye.

“That’s so sweet, Peaches. I love you, too,” Nicholas said lovingly.

“Our adventure in the big city continues tomorrow, Babe. Let’s get some rest so we will be refreshed to continue exploring the Big Apple!” Griffin said as they clicked off the TV and ambled to their bedroom.

The RV Chronicles (Chapter 31)

Chapter 31

Written by: (DanielJPhoenix2021)

A stunned silence fell over the scene as the shocked musician stopped playing, and the audience processed what had just transpired. However, Nicholas was beginning to get used to Griffin’s tendency to instantly react to a situation without taking the time to think it through. With a comedic eye roll and exasperated sigh, he took off after his boyfriend with the superhero complex.

As he pushed through the crowd, he caught a glimpse of Griffin rounding the gift shop on the street corner. Following him, with little hope of actually catching up to Griff, Nicholas could just make out the thief almost a full block ahead. Griffin appeared to be slowly gaining ground on the less-fit culprit. The foot chase crossed the street and continued down the next block when, suddenly, the thief made a hard right down an alley.

The unexpected move caught Griffin by surprise, and his feet nearly slipped out from under him as he attempted to slow his momentum enough to follow. Pinwheeling his arms to keep his balance, he managed to navigate the turn and headed down the alley in hot pursuit.

As Nicholas approached the entrance to the narrow lane, he heard shouting, and it sounded like several angry voices battling to be heard. A chill ran up his spine, and fear gripped him as he viewed the scene down the alleyway. Griffin’s back was to him, and, beyond Griff, he could count five less-than-friendly bodies advancing on him.

Nicholas grabbed his phone to call 9-1-1 as Griffin slowly began backing up with his hands raised in front of him. Nicholas could barely control his panic and keep his voice sufficiently steady to coherently explain the situation to the emergency operator. The operator assured him that someone had already called in the theft, and law enforcement would be arriving at any moment. GPS identified the exact location of the alley where the escalating confrontation was unfolding.

Nicholas started to call out to Griffin that the police would be there any second but then thought better of that. He didn’t think it would be wise to alert the gang to that fact, which may cause a violent response. Every second felt like an hour, but then Nicholas, out of the corner of his eye, glimpsed the blue and white pulling up to his left. He just pointed down the alleyway as the officers approached with their guns drawn.

“Move behind our vehicle,” one of the officers ordered Nicholas.

“On the ground! NOW!” the other yelled down the alleyway.

As the gang members realized they had unwanted company, four began running toward the opposite end, but the apparent leader, wielding a wickedly evil knife, jumped towards Griffin. Acting, as usual, on instinct, Griffin kicked out with his right leg and connected with his assailant’s abdomen. As the attacker’s arm came down, the knife sliced across Griffin’s thigh, opening a vicious gash.

Griffin dropped to the ground as a shot rang out. The police officer continued yelling for the attacker to drop his weapon, which he reluctantly did, raising his hands in the air as the officers rushed in. The other four had almost reached the far end of the alley when another police car pulled up to seal their escape. Realizing their predicament, they all froze and put their hands on their heads.

One officer quickly cuffed the attacker as the other called for a medical rescue response for Griffin. The lack of profuse bleeding assured him that the laceration had not severed Griffin’s femoral artery, which would have been quite serious. He used his belt as a tourniquet above the wound, and Griffin pulled off his t-shirt to press against the cut.

After the gang member was not too gently deposited into the back seat of the police cruiser, the officer got the full story from Nicholas. He assured Nicholas that Griffin would be fine with about a dozen stitches and allowed him to go to Griffin and wait with him until the medical emergency responders arrived. They could both give their statements at the hospital later after the officers had the gang members secured and witnesses had been interviewed.

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

The doctor had told Griff that he was very fortunate that the knife had sliced him at such an angle that it didn’t cut deep enough to hit the femoral artery. The flap of thigh meat was secured with 14 dissolvable stitches and bandaged with instructions given on changing the bandage regularly.

“You’re going to have quite a scar to show off,” the doctor informed him. “From what I hear, you will also have quite a story to go along with the scar.”

“I’m telling everyone it’s from a shark bite!” Griffin chuckled. “It’ll kinda look like one.”

While Griffin was being sewn back together, one of the police officers from the scene had arrived and was taking Nicholas’ statement. He was then brought into the examination room to get Griffin’s side of the story. After having the boys sign their statements and securing their contact information, the officer allowed the boys to head home for much needed rest.

Since it was well after midnight by the time the boys made it back to the RV, they decided to stay in the next day and make plans for their stop in New York City. Griffin also needed to stay off his wounded leg for as long as possible to speed the healing. He would not be up for much walking for a couple of days, at least.

Nicholas located and made a 5-night reservation at Liberty Harbor RV Park in Jersey City. There would be plenty to interest and occupy them in New York City for several days. “Check this out, Griff,” Nicholas pointed at his laptop screen. “It’s right on the harbor, and you can see Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty from the park. We can walk to the ferry landing and ride over to Manhattan or walk a little further and take the subway over.”

“Yeah, less walking and more riding for a few days sounds good, Boobaloo. Crutches are a pain, and I’m NOT doing Manhattan on crutches! Short walks and cab rides will be best for at least a couple of days.”

“Well, you are going to stay off that leg all day today. Your humble servant is going to wait on you every second,” Nicholas winked while dramatically bowing. “Your every wish is my command, Your Royal Peachiness, and I give my solemn vow that you will not be disappointed by the gifts I shall lavish on thee.”

“Ooooo … I think I’m going to like staying in today!”

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

The boys spent the rest of the morning researching things to do for four days in New York City. “There’s no way we can possibly do everything we want to do, so we’re going to have to make some tough choices,” Nicholas sighed. “I wish we could stay here for a couple of weeks but, if we do, we won’t have time to see the rest of New England and get you to Ohio in time for your orientation at Ohio State in six weeks.”

“I’m sure we will be back, but you’re right. It’s going to be tough,” Griffin agreed. “I can think of at least a dozen things right off the top of my head.”

“Okay, we’ll make a list and then whittle it down. Although I’d love to visit all the boroughs, I think we need to focus on Manhattan for this trip. How about 2 days in Midtown and Upper Manhattan and 2 days in Lower Manhattan?”

“That makes sense, and we have to see a couple of Broadway shows, too, if we can snag tickets. So, let’s start with Lower Manhattan. What’s there that we want to spend two days enjoying?” Griffin asked.

“OH! There is SO much culture there!” Nicholas gushed. “There’s SOHO, Chinatown, Alphabet City and the East Village, the Flatiron District and Chelsea, Little Italy and Tribeca, and Washington Square Park. We’ll try to plot out a course to see as much of it as possible in two days. I think that should be the last two days, and, hopefully, your leg will be healed enough to do the walking.”

“Perfect. So, the first two days, we will focus on Midtown and Upper Manhattan,” Griffin responded. “Broadway, Radio City Music Hall, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, The Museum of Modern Art, and Central Park.”

The boys’ list grew rapidly as the morning passed quickly and they decided to take a break for lunch. Afterward, they shifted gears and found a movie to watch, but both were fast asleep before ‘Panic Room’ reached the halfway point. The rest was very much needed after the stressful night they had endured and the fitful sleep they had after returning home.

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

Following their long afternoon naps, the boys worked out plans for their four days in The Big Apple, and then Nicholas left Griffin working on his ‘RV Chronicles’ Instagram page while he went in quest of dinner. Returning a little over an hour later loaded down with several Boston Market bags, Griffin laughed as Nicholas stumbled through the door and into the kitchen. “Expecting company?” he giggled.

“I couldn’t make up my mind,” Nicholas blushed. “We’ll have plenty of leftovers for several lunches, though.”

Having fully sated their appetites, the boys were a bit restless and not the least bit tired, so they did what two young men very much in love do. Nicholas helped Griffin onto their bed and slowly began to peel his boyfriend’s clothing from his body, kissing and savoring each exposed area as he went. Once an obviously excited Griffin was completely bare and twitching, Nicholas tapped his Spotify tunes a couple of times, and, as the sultry selection began to play, he gave Peaches a seductive show that guaranteed to ripen his fruit. Nicholas swayed more than danced and so very slowly removed his shirt and then worked his way down as Donna Summer crooned …

“When you’re laying so close to me

There’s no place I’d rather you be than with me, uh

Ahaaw, I love to love you, baby

Ahaaw, I love to love you, baby

Ahaaw, I love to love you, baby

Do it to me again and again

You put me in such a awful spin, in a spin, in

Ahaaw, I love to love you, baby

Ahaaw, I love to love you, baby

Ahaaw, I love to love you, baby … ”

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

Nicholas was up early the following morning to shower and scarf down some breakfast as he would have to pack up the RV for road travel by himself. Griffin had to practically be tied to the bed frame to prevent him from trying to help, but Nicholas begged and pleaded with him to stay put and give his leg another full day of rest so he would be in better shape to explore NYC tomorrow.

Having secured everything and double-checked the checklist, as well as planting Griffin in the bean bag on the floor with the laptop, Nicholas climbed into the captain’s chair and punched the coordinates for the Liberty Harbor RV Park. It would be a fairly short trip up the Jersey Shore, and it was a beautiful day for a leisurely drive. Contemplating musical choices, he decided quickly on Jersey’s native son, Bruce Springsteen. As the Boss’ gravelly voice began to belt from the speakers, Nicholas couldn’t help but join in …

“The Rangers had a homecoming

In Harlem late last night

And the Magic Rat drove his sleek machine

Over the Jersey state line

Barefoot girl sitting on the hood of a Dodge

Drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain

The Rat pulls into town, rolls up his pants

Together they take a stab at romance

And disappear down Flamingo Lane

Well, the Maximum Lawmen run down Flamingo

Chasing the Rat and the barefoot girl

And the kids ’round there live just like shadows

Always quiet, holding hands

From the churches to the jails

Tonight all is silence in the world

As we take our stand

Down in Jungleland”

The RV Chronicles (Chapter 30)

Chapter 30

Written by (KenW9270)

As they passed the road sign that read “Now Entering Atlantic City,” Nicholas grinned and pushed a button to change to a different Spotify playlist. Kenny Rogers came through the speakers singing “The Gambler.”

Griffin rolled his eyes. “You’re such a dork. Why do I love you so much?”

“Because I’m good in bed?” Nicholas snorted with laughter.

“Well, you are, but I’ve been in love with you since before I ever saw you naked. It must be something else.”

“My charming personality and sense of humor?”

“Hmm. Let’s go with that.” Griff couldn’t stop smiling as he stared at the man that he just knew he would love forever.

“Have you looked at my notes on things to do here yet?” Nicholas asked.

“Yeah, but I didn’t see spending all day gambling at a casino as an option on any of your lists. Did you forget?”

“No, I didn’t forget. You have to be twenty-one to get in any of the casinos. My dad made notes about the best casinos to play poker in, but right next to those notes were lists of things to keep me occupied while he played.”

“How stupid is it that we can vote and go to war, but we can’t drink or gamble. The adults trust us to choose the president and defend the country, but they don’t trust us to play cards. I don’t understand that at all.”

“You’re right. I agree one hundred percent, but there’s nothing we can do until we elect President Griffmeister into office.”

“That has a nice ring to it, and so does First Husband Nicholas Boobear.”

Nicholas got a dreamy look in his eyes. “Husband has an even better ring to it than President does.”

Griff leaned over and kissed the side of Nicholas’ neck. “Just don’t drive us off the road, future husband of mine.”

Nicholas’ smile nearly split his face in two. “Anything for you, Peaches.”

“But back to your list, I’m thinking the best thing, since we’re not starting until noon, is to hit the Atlantic City Boardwalk. There’s food, games, arcades, and rides. Plus, there’s a giant ferris wheel that has temperature-controlled gondolas instead of regular seats. It’s two hundred and twenty-seven feet tall! The gondolas seat six people each. We absolutely have to ride that!”

“That all sounds great. The Boardwalk it is!” Nicholas said as they pulled into the RV park. Nicholas got out and headed to the office to sign in, while Griffin went about the, now automatic, tasks of hooking up the RV to the proper connections in their assigned spot.

————————————————————————————————————

The boys got off the bus and walked the remaining distance to their destination. Just as he stepped foot onto the historic Boardwalk, Nicholas looked at his watch. “Not bad. I wanted to be here between noon and twelve-thirty, and it’s twelve twenty-five.”

“Awesome. Now, where’s the closest pizza joint? I’m starved.”

“You do know that the RV is fully stocked with food and snacks, right, Griff?” Nicholas laughed.

“Yeah, but I googled the Boardwalk, and I was drooling over all the food choices all morning. Now come on. Pizza first, then funnel cakes for dessert.”

Nicholas shook his head and followed his boyfriend up the Boardwalk in search of pizza.

————————————————————————————————————

With his face still covered in powdered sugar from the funnel cake, Griff grinned. “That was delicious! I’m ready to be entertained now. What’s next?”

“The next thing you need to do is wash your face, or I’ll have to call you Sweet Peach instead of Peaches.”

“You’re a funny guy, Boo. I’m sweet enough without the sugar. I shall return.” Griff turned and ran into the bathroom to wash up.

When Griff returned, Nicholas smiled at him. “Perfect. Let’s go.”

Griff put a hand over his heart and said dramatically, “You mean there’s a time when I’m not perfect?”

Nicholas leaned in close. “Never. I would have licked the sugar right off your face, but I didn’t want to cause a scene.” He lightly bit Griff’s earlobe before he pulled away.

“Plus, we would have ended up back in the RV, and I do want to see the Boardwalk,” Griff said.

“True enough. How about some carnival games while we digest our food, then the rides afterward?”

“Excellent plan, Captain Nicholas. Let’s win us some prizes!”

After a couple of hours of water pistols, throwing darts at balloons, throwing basketballs into hoops, and playing tic-tac-toe with beanbags, both boys had won prizes they were happy with. Nicholas won a stuffed monkey that was carrying a surfboard for Griff, and Griff won a giant stuffed penguin for Nicholas. “I sure hope we don’t lose these on any of the rides. I love this penguin!” Nicholas said.

“Surfer Monkey shall not be lost!” Griff laughed. “Let’s hit the ferris wheel first, it’s right here.”

There wasn’t much of a line at The Wheel, so the ride operator let Nicholas and Griffin have the six-person gondola to themselves. There were a lot of starts and stops on their way up to the top while other passengers got on and off the ride. The two boys stood at the side of the gondola and stared out over the city. “This is an amazing view!” Nicholas said.

“You can’t even see that the dock is under us. It’s like we’re right out over the water!”

Nicholas stood behind his boyfriend and rested his chin on Griffin’s shoulder. Nicholas wrapped his arms around the other boy. “The view is even more beautiful because we’re here together.”

Griff turned to face Nicholas, still wrapped in his arms, and looked into his lover’s eyes. “Anywhere would be the most beautiful place on Earth as long as I’m in your arms, Boo.” Griff leaned down just enough for their lips to meet. Nicholas slid his hands up Griff’s back, and he wrapped his arms around Griff’s neck, pulling him deeper into the kiss. It seemed like no time at all passed, but then they heard a noise and heard someone clear their throat. They turned towards the door to the gondola and saw the ride operator standing there with a goofy grin on his face.

“This isn’t a hotel room, boys. The ride is over. Time to go.” Nicholas and Griffin both blushed bright red and fled the gondola. They spent another hour riding more rides and then decided that it was time to go in search of dinner.

“I want something a little more substantial than pizza and funnel cakes for dinner.” Nicholas laughed. “Let’s head back to the main street and look around.

“Yeah, a nice dinner does sound good. It’s been an awesome day, Boo.” Hand in hand they left the Boardwalk and started searching for a restaurant. Griffin was scrolling on his phone, trying to find a restaurant, when music caught his attention. He looked up and standing on the street corner was a young guy, maybe a few years older than he was, playing a guitar and singing. The guy had a hat out on the sidewalk for tips. Griffin stopped, Nicholas felt Griffin stop, and he stopped also and looked around.

“What’s up? Why’d we stop? Did you find something?” Nicholas asked.

“No. I wanted to listen to him for a few minutes,” Griff said, stepping closer to the musician.

“Oh, wow. Yeah, he’s good,” Nicholas said.

The musician noticed the two boys, and he also saw that they were holding hands. He winked at the boys, and then he stopped the song that he was singing and started a new one. Griff recognized the song right away and smiled. It was “Young and In Love” by Ingrid Michaelson.

“We’re young and in love

And we’re running like the wind, we got it all

We’re never alone

If we got each other, we can save the world

Explosions in the sky, I see colors fly

It’s like the Fourth of July in your eyes

Old enough, old enough, old enough to know that

We are young in love, young in love, young and in love

You and me, we can see, time will stand still

If we stay young in love, young in love, young and in love

Yeah, we are young and in love

Yeah, we are young and in love

Yeah, we are young and in love (oh, oh)

Yeah, we are young and in love

Yeah, we are young and in love

Yeah, we are young and in love (oh, oh)

We’ll turn it up

Play the music loud so we can sing along

And teach me all the words to your favorite songs

We can…”

The young musician was into his song and playing right to Griff and Nicholas. Someone walked out of the crowd that had formed and went as if he was going to put a tip into the hat. Instead, he reached down and grabbed the hat, and took off running. Griff noticed right away and yelled out, “Hey! Stop!” The man didn’t stop. “I’ll be right back!” Griffin yelled to Nicholas and he took off after the thief at top speed.