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