The Birth of a Camper


"Yes, Lindz."

"I … um … I have a favor to ask."

"How much this time?"

"It's not money and it's not for me. It's for Gus."

"What does he need?"



"He needs his daddy."

"What for?"

"He's been asking for something for months, and his birthday is coming up in three weeks."


"He wants to go camping."

"Camping? What the fuck does that have to do with me?"

"He wants to go camping with his daddy … this weekend."

"But … this is Labor Day weekend and Justin's coming in from New York … and fucking camping!? What do I know about camping?"

"Didn't you camp out on the bike ride?"

"Yeah, but I also broke my fucking collarbone. And it wasn't really camping. All the camping that was involved was sleeping in a tent."

"That's what Gus wants to do, sleep in a tent with his daddy and cook over an open fire and see some animals." There was a long pause. "Brian?"

"I was waiting for the rest of the list."

"Asshole," Lindsay laughed. "That's all there is to it."

"I don't know, Lindz." Brian rubbed his hand over his eyes.

"His buddy Billy from down the street just got back from a camping trip with his dad, and Gus was heartbroken hearing all about it. He so wants to go, Brian."

"Can't Melanie take him?"

"He wants you. If you had heard him praying last night before he went to sleep…"

"Jesus, Lindsay, can you lay it on any thicker?"

"If I could, I would. Maybe Justin could go with you if he's here."

Brian thought about that. He didn't want to disappoint Gus, but he knew nothing about camping. Maybe between himself and Justin they could do it for Gus. He heard Lindsay sigh.


"I guess it would cut into your precious fuck time," Lindsay said sarcastically.

"You sounded just like Mel."

"Well, that's the problem, isn't it?"

"Let me talk to Justin and I'll get back to you."

"Okay, but just remember this is what Gus really, really wants. It would be the best birthday present ever."

"Rub it in a little harder, why don't you?"

"I'm doing my best," Lindsay laughed.

Brian could picture her batting her eyelashes in her best coquettish manner as he hung up the phone. He was so fucking screwed.


On the Saturday morning of the long Labor Day weekend Brian and Justin arrived at the Munchers in a rented Jeep. It was laden with the tent Justin had bought for the Liberty Ride and quite a pile of additional camping gear they had purchased after Justin arrived from New York, and before Brian fucked him into a near coma. They both looked happy but a little the worse for wear after their night of insatiable desire. They had realized that they better take care of that before they picked up Gus. Camping with a five year old was going to put a real crimp in their usual marathon of fucking when they visited each other.

Brian rang the bell and waited. Lindsay opened the door.

"Daddy!" Gus shrieked and barreled out the door throwing himself at Brian's legs. "I'm ready!"

"No shi…" Brian stopped when he caught Lindsay's eye. "Wish I fucking was," he muttered to himself.

"If it isn't the intrepid campers," Melanie smirked as she came up to the door.

"Why aren't you doing this?" Brian asked glowering at her.

"Camping's not my thing. I leave that to the manly men," she laughed derisively.

Brian glared at her but said nothing, not wanting his true thoughts to pollute the air around one of his son's mothers.

"So, where are you men going?" Lindsay asked looking from Brian to Justin.

"Raccoon Creek State Park," Brian said confidently.

"That's an interesting choice," Lindsay laughed. "Good luck. See you Monday afternoon, Gus."

"Bye, Mama, Mommy. Love you," Gus said giving them each a hug.

Soon the men were on the road, Justin giving directions from the sheets that Brian had printed off the computer.

"How did you decide on this park?" Justin asked.

"I looked up state parks with camping and it was one of the nearest with all the facilities we need."

"Great! Did you make a reservation?"

"They were all taken, but it said there were unreserved spaces on a first come first served basis. I figure we'll get one of those."

Justin frowned. It was Labor Day weekend, the last holiday of the summer. Oh well, they would find something.

"So, how do you like camping so far, Gus?" Justin asked turning to look at the little boy who was strapped into his booster seat.

"Gooood," he replied happily. He was glad to be going away with his father and Justin. Now Billy wouldn't be able to tease him about never having gone camping.

"How about we sing some songs?" Justin suggested.

"Yay!" Gus said enthusiastically. He clapped his hands.

"How about 'Old MacDonald'?"

"Or even more annoying 'Ninety-nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall'," Brian griped.

"Old MacDonald it is," Justin said cheerfully giving Brian a shot to the ribs.

After rousing renditions of She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain and Pop Goes the Weasel and Row, Row, Row Your Boat and god knew what else, they turned onto the road that led to the park.

"Almost there, Sonny Boy," Brian said as they turned into the park entrance. Brian brought the Jeep to a stop at the booth. "We'd like to camp for two nights."

"Do you have a reservation?"

"No, we'd like one of the unreserved spots."

"I'm sorry, sir, but those were all taken last evening. The park is full."

"Full? How can a park be full?" Brian demanded.

"All the camping spaces are gone," the woman said patiently.

"But all we need is a little spot to pitch the tent," Brian said his anger rising.

"There are no spots left," the woman stated.

"How the fuck can that be? I looked on the website and it said there were spaces available on a first come first served basis."

"And all the people who came here first got all those spaces … yesterday," the woman said smugly.

"Shit!" Brian reacted.

Gus started to cry. "Camping, Daddy, please!" he wailed.

"Gus, please…" Brian begged.

The woman in the booth could not remain unmoved by Gus' pleas. "I could check and see if any of the other parks have campsites available," she offered.

"That would be great," Justin said quickly before Brian could say something else to piss the woman off.

She got on the phone and spoke to someone. They all held their breath and waited. "There's a couple of spaces at Ryerson Station," she said.

"Where the fuck is that?"

The woman glared at Brian and his choice of language. "Look, I don't need this from you. If you don't want to know about this, fine!"

"We really need a campsite," Justin said hastily. "Could we reserve it?"

"No, but if you head there right now, you might be able to get a space."

"How far?"

"Two hours, give or take."

Brian groaned. This day was going to last forever, and at the end of it, if he was lucky, he'd get to sleep on the ground with bugs and wild animals all around.

"Do you have a map?" Justin asked.

"Here you go," the woman said handing a map through the window.

"Thanks," Justin said as Brian pulled the Jeep around the booth and they headed back out to the road.

"Daddy," Gus whimpered.

"Hang on, Sonny Boy," Brian said through gritted teeth.

"Turn right," Justin directed as they got back onto the road.

"Two more fucking hours," Brian griped, muttering low so Gus wouldn't hear.

"It'll be worth it once we're there," Justin said soothingly squeezing Brian's thigh.

They had been driving along the secondary road for about fifteen minutes. It seemed to be the shortest route to Ryerson Station State Park. Suddenly there was a loud bang and the Jeep swerved dangerously. Brian was able to get it under control as they all held their breath.

"What the hell happened?" Justin asked.

They could hear a thud, thud, thud.

Brian groaned. "Flat tire."

Justin looked at Brian and they both knew they were doomed.

"Pull into that driveway so we're off the road," Justin suggested.

Brian guided the limping Jeep into a dirt driveway that was quite long. They could see an old farmhouse at the top of the lane.

Brian and Justin got out to assess the damage. The tire was flat as a pancake.

"Did you hit something on the road?" Justin asked.

"I did not run over anything; it just fucking blew!" Brian reacted. He was not taking the blame for this.

"Daddy," Gus whined from the back seat. "Camping!" And then he started to sob.

"Jesus fucking Christ!" Brian muttered. "What else can go wrong?"

"Do you know how to change a tire?" Justin asked.

Brian shook his head. "Where's Honeycutt when you need him?"


"Long story. I'm calling the fucking rental company. Where's the agreement?"

"In the glove compartment."

Brian pulled out his cell phone and got the agreement from the glove compartment. He walked several feet up the driveway so that Gus wouldn't hear when he reamed the ass of whatever hapless fool took his call at the car rental agency.

Meanwhile Justin got Gus out of his booster seat. He picked the little boy up and walked around the car trying to comfort the whimpering boy. He rubbed Gus' back and told him it would be all right, but he wasn't so sure of that himself. Gus continued to cry in the most heartbroken manner.

Brian stomped back towards the car.

"What did they say?"

"They can't fucking promise anyone will be here to change the tire inside of two fucking hours!" Brian ranted. "Do you believe this fucking shit!?"

"Brian, calm down. You're scaring Gus and you're going to blow a blood vessel."

Gus cried louder and clung to Justin's neck.

"I'll fucking rant and rave if I want to," Brian declared. "We'll never get to that fucking park in time."

Gus wailed louder realizing that they probably weren't going to get to go camping at all. Brian and Justin stared back up the road they had just come from willing the rental company car to arrive.

"Excuse me, folks. You having some trouble?"

Brian and Justin turned to see a man maybe in his early seventies standing in the lane that led up to the farmhouse. Gus whimpered but didn't cry as loud as he looked at the old man through tear filled eyes.

"I saw you from the house. Car trouble?"

"Fucking flat tire," Brian said between gritted teeth.

"Are we blocking your driveway? We could probably move it over far enough to let you out," Justin suggested.

"Oh, I don't want to go anywhere. I just thought maybe you could use some help," the old man said. "Is the little feller okay?"

Gus looked up at the stranger and took a couple of shuddering breaths.

"He's disappointed. We were supposed to be going camping at Raccoon Creek Park but they were full. They sent us to Ryerson Station State Park but this is as far as we got. They only had a couple of spaces left and now it looks like we won't get there in time to claim one." Justin rubbed Gus' back as he sobbed once more.

"I'd offer to help you with the flat, but with my back the way it is, I'd probably be as long fixing it as it would take for a tow truck to come."

"That's okay," Justin said. "Brian called someone and they should be here in an hour or so."

"Would you like to come up to the house? My wife just made a pitcher of lemonade."

"That's very nice of you, but we need to wait for the rental car people to come," Brian said.

"You can see them from the porch," the man said. "I'm Matthew Barnes, and this old thing is Buck." He pointed to the elderly collie that they now noticed was standing beside him. He gave Buck an affectionate pat on the head. "Come along up to the house. This little feller looks like he could use a drink." Matthew smiled at Gus.

Gus stopped whimpering and said, "Thirsty, Justin."

"We might even find a cookie or two," Matthew chuckled.

"That's really nice of you, Matthew," Justin said putting Gus down now that he'd stopped crying. "I'm Justin and this big guy with the bad attitude is Brian."

"Nice to meet you Justin and Brian."

"I'm Gus," Gus said as they started walking up the lane. Buck trailed behind them and Gus looked at him warily as he held onto Justin's hand.

"Nice to meet you too, Gus. My wife loves little boys. She'll be happy to see you."

They trudged up the driveway with Brian reluctantly following way behind the others, muttering obscenities. Matthew stuck his head in the door of the farmhouse and called, "Muriel, we have guests. Bring the lemonade." He indicated some old wicker chairs strung along the porch. "Have a seat." Brian and Justin pulled the chairs closer to the little round table and Gus sat on Brian's knee. Finding Matthew seemed to have taken his mind off camping at least for now.

A woman of the same vintage as Matthew pushed open the screen door and carried out a tray holding glasses, a pitcher of lemonade and a plate of cookies.

"See, Gus, I told you there'd be cookies," Matthew smiled.

Gus smiled back. Brian and Justin relaxed a little as Muriel welcomed them. Gus didn't seem to be inclined to cry anymore. They each got a glass of the lemonade and a cookie.

"These cookies are delicious," Justin said.

"Not bad at all," Brian had to admit.

"Good," Gus agreed happily munching away on his cookie.

Muriel smiled and Justin watched her place her hand over Matthew's where it rested on the arm of the old wicker chair. It was such a tender and gentle action that Justin almost wanted to weep.

"It's nice to have visitors on this beautiful Labor Day weekend," Muriel said as she sipped her lemonade.

"Even unexpected ones?" Brian asked.

"Sometimes they're the best," she smiled.

They drank their lemonade and had another round of cookies while Justin explained how their camping weekend had got off to such a bad start. Gus got down off his father's lap and started to pet Buck who was laying on the porch. Buck soaked it all up and then ran after a little stick that Matthew encouraged Gus to throw.

Finally the rental agency vehicle arrived and Brian walked down to the end of the lane to make sure they got the tire properly changed and to give them shit about the quality of what they rented.

"Thanks for everything, Matthew, Muriel," Justin said shaking their hands.

"Are you going to head for Ryerson Station?" Matthew asked.

"I guess," Justin said with a shrug, "but if the last spots are gone, we're going to have one very unhappy little boy to deal with."

"Here's a thought," Matthew said. "What if you pitched your tent back behind the house? There's an orchard back there and behind it is a stream. The fishing ain't so bad in it either, if I recollect clearly."

"How would you know, old man?" Muriel laughed. "It's been years since you went fishing there."

"Not since the boys were young," Matthew said with a sigh.

"You have children?"

"Two boys, men now. They didn't like farming, moved away to the big city years ago. We don't see a lot of them anymore … or our grandkids," he added sadly.

"Um … could you keep an eye on Gus while I go talk to Brian about this?" Justin asked.

The couple nodded. Justin told Gus he would be right back and then jogged down the lane to where the rental people were just finishing putting the new tire on the vehicle. At first Brian was adamant about going to a proper campsite and not imposing on the old couple. However, Justin reasoned that they might be too late to get a campsite and then Gus would be inconsolable. He also pointed out that the Barnes seemed lonely and really wanted them to stay.

As the rental vehicle pulled away, Brian gave in knowing that Gus seemed happy here. Brian was unwilling to take the chance of disappointment for the little boy when they arrived at Ryerson Station.

"Get in," Brian said. "We'll drive the Jeep up to the house and we can start unpacking our gear."

"Thanks," Justin smiled and reached up to kiss Brian's cheek. "You made the right decision."

"I fucking hope so," Brian replied as he started the engine.

They parked the Jeep behind the barn and Matthew helped them pick out a spot on the edge of the orchard where they could pitch their tent. It was one of those that set itself up so it was easily done. Matthew was very impressed. He showed them where they could get some small rocks so they could safely build a campfire once it got close to dinner time. Then he invited them into the farmhouse for lunch. He said Muriel had it all ready and he wouldn't take no for an answer.

They trailed along behind him with Gus and Buck running circles around them. Muriel was an excellent cook and had homemade soup and sandwiches all set out on the big kitchen table. They all dug in.

"So far this camping's not bad," Brian smirked as they finished up lunch with a piece of Muriel's coconut cake. Even Brian had deigned to have a small piece in light of how delicious everything else she served had been.

"You call this camping?" Justin laughed. "You have no idea."

"Like you do!" Brian snarked.

"Boys, boys," Matthew chided them. "Would you like to walk down to the stream and I'll show you where you can fish?"

"Um…" Justin began. "We didn't bring rods. We thought we could rent some at the park."

"Fishing?" Gus said hopefully but with just the hint of impending tears.

"Hm," Matthew said. "Would one of you come down into the cellar with me? I think the old rods that the boys and I used are still there. They won't be fancy, but I think they'll do the trick."

"Why don't you go, Brian? I'll help Muriel clean up."

Brian nodded and followed Matthew through a doorway that led off the kitchen.

"You don't have to help with the dishes," Muriel said.

"I want to. It's the least I can do after that excellent lunch."

Muriel smiled her pleasure and they started carrying the dishes over to the sink. "No dishwasher for us," she said.

"Then you're looking at it," Justin grinned as he put the stopper in and started running the water into the sink.

"Can I go play with Buck?" Gus asked.

"Um … I guess, but stay in view of this window."

"Thanks, Justin." Gus ran out the door and they heard Buck bark a welcome to him.

"He's a lovely little boy, but he calls you Justin. Is Brian his father?"

"Yes, he usually lives with his mothers," Justin said carefully, deliberately using the plural and hoping that Muriel would understand. He also hoped it didn't shock her, and she and Matthew would ask them to leave.

"Gus looks like Brian. Are you and Brian a couple?" she asked softly.

"Yes," Justin admitted as he washed and rinsed a dish. He hoped his hand didn't shake as he waited for her answer.

"I thought maybe…"

"Are you shocked?"

"Heck no, we do have TV way out here in the wilds of Pennsylvania, you know," she laughed. "I've seen Will and Grace."

Justin chuckled. He was glad Brian wasn't here to hear that. He detested Will and Grace and the whole sexless show, especially the fag friend Jack who gave homos like Emmett a bad name.

"I think these should work fine," Matthew was saying as he and Brian carried three fishing rods into the kitchen. "Muriel, do you have a rag that we can use to get some of the dust off these old things."

Magically a cloth appeared in Matthew's hand almost before he finished his request. The old couple were quite a team.

Justin finished up the dishes and the four men walked through the orchard and down to the stream. It was a pretty little spot. Matthew helped them get the rods prepped. He had brought a little spade with him and they dug up some worms to use as bait. He patiently worked with Gus showing him how to get the hook in the water without having it end up attached to his own bum. Brian and Justin watched and followed each step that Matthew taught Gus. They needed the lessons as much as the little boy.

Gus and Matthew managed to catch a catfish, which Matthew assured them would be good eating. However, they let the fish go saying they would try again the following day. Gus wanted hotdogs over an open fire for supper. Matthew laughed and left them to their casting as he had some chores to do. Buck decided to stay with them lying in the grass next to Gus.

After some more casting with little result, they all took off their shoes and sat under a tree with their feet in the cool water of the stream and their lures bobbing in the gentle current.

"Daddy," Gus said, "thank you for bringing me."

"You should thank Matthew and Muriel for letting us stay here, and Justin for talking me into it," Brian replied.

"Thanks, Justin." Gus smiled over at Justin and Brian gave his son a gentle hug. Maybe this was what camping was really about, being together and sharing and appreciating the things we do for each other.

They wiled away the rest of the afternoon without catching any fish, but that was okay. They talked and laughed. Gus told them all the things Billy and his father did when they went camping. Brian wished he had thought to bring a Frisbee or a bat and ball. It never occurred to him. He was too worried about the camping part of the journey to even think about having fun.

Rumblings in certain stomachs indicated that it was time to head back to camp.

"Looks like we men need grub," Brian said in his best John Wayne voice. He then did a half sideways saunter like John Wayne always did.

"Why are you walking funny, Daddy?" Gus wanted to know.

"I'm not walking funny. I'm John Wayne."

Justin and Gus looked at each other, shrugged and laughed. Brian scowled at them both.

"You're too funny, Brian," Justin giggled.

"Be careful, Pilgrim. It's dangerous out here in the woods."

They were passing through the apple orchard as Brian made this pronouncement.

"You're daddy's crazy," Justin whispered to Gus.

Gus circled his ear with his finger and pointed at Brian. They both laughed and Buck barked. Brian knew they were laughing at him, but somehow it didn't matter one little bit. They were all having fun.

They got a fire going without too much trouble thanks to Matthew providing some logs and some kindling. A match worked just fine to get it started.

"Can you imagine trying to light a fire by rubbing sticks together … like they do on Survivor?" Justin laughed.

"No, I certainly can not," Brian replied as he added a third log and the fire burned brightly.

"Need to pee, Daddy," Gus said.

"Oh." Brian frowned. He hadn't thought about that. There would have been facilities at the state park, but here they would have to bother Matthew and Muriel unless… "Come with me, Sonny Boy," Brian said.

"What are you going to do, Brian?" Justin grinned.

Brian merely smirked and led Gus over behind a large tree in the orchard. "Don't tell your mothers about this," Brian warned his son.

"'Kay, Daddy," Gus said.

Brian then proceeded to show Gus how to whip it out and pee onto the ground. Justin could see the streams of urine coming from behind the tree and could hear Gus' giggles. After a minute both Brian and Gus reappeared with satisfied looks on their faces.

"You are so bad," Justin giggled.

Brian merely stuck his tongue in his cheek and smirked.

"We peed on an apple," Gus giggled.

"On an apple?"

"I had him aim for some of the apples that had fallen on the ground," Brian explained. "Good practice, eh, Gus?" Gus nodded.

"Grab a stick and a hotdog. The fire's ready," Justin said.

Brian made a face but he helped Gus skewer a hotdog onto the end of the stick Justin had readied. Then he got his own ready. They held them just above the flames.

"When they start to bulge or get brown, turn them around," Justin instructed Gus.

"When did you get so knowledgeable about wieners?" Brian asked with a smirk.

"All good bottoms know about wieners," Justin chuckled. They exchanged a knowing smile.

Gus looked at the two men and smiled too. He didn't know what they were talking about but he liked it when his father and Justin were having fun.

They toasted their dogs and then plopped them in a bun with ketchup and mustard that Justin had brought. He had even brought baby carrots for crunching on and to have some nutritional value to the meal.

When they were finished eating the hotdogs, Gus and Buck started running around and playing. Brian and Justin sat back with a tepid beer and watched. They leaned against a tree not far from the fire.

"He's really having a good time," Brian said. "Thanks for convincing me to stay here."

"You're welcome," Justin said leaning over to give Brian a gentle kiss.

"Don't start something we can't finish," Brian groaned.

"Maybe when Gus is asleep…" Justin said as he leaned in for another kiss.

"Excuse me, folks," Matthew said standing not too far away and obviously taking in the kiss.

"Hi, Matthew," Justin said cheerfully.

"Hi, Matthew," Gus repeated as he ran up with Buck.

"I just came down to tell you boys that you can use the bathroom up at the house if you need a toilet or a shower."

"Thanks, that would be great," Brian said.

"No, Daddy, Billy says we have to be dirty and smell bad by the time we go home," Gus said fervently.

"Where did that rule come from?" Brian demanded.

"Please, Daddy."

"Okay, okay, but we may take you up on the toilet part of that offer."

Matthew smiled and headed back to the house. Buck followed him, probably looking for dinner since one hotdog wasn't much to compensate for all the exercise he had been getting.

Justin got them singing some more songs and then he pulled out the makings of 'Smores. They all enjoyed that, even Brian, who condescended to eat the sticky treat. The sun went down and they banked up the fire for the night. Gus got ready for bed but refused to get into his sleeping bag unless Brian and Justin did the same. They all bunked down for the night watching the stars through the clear part of the tent. Soon Gus fell asleep clutching his teddy bear that he had remembered to bring with him.

Brian and Justin slipped out of the tent careful not to wake the sleeping boy. They had a rather vigorous fuck against one of the apple trees not far from the tent. Sated for the moment they climbed back into their sleeping bags, one on each side of Gus. As they were getting settled, Gus opened his eyes.

"Are you scared, Daddy?" he asked Brian.

They could hear crickets and what sounded like a distant coyote and the sound of apples hitting the ground when they dropped from the trees.

"Are you, Sonny Boy?"

"Maybe a little, but Bear protects me. We can share him, Daddy. He'll look after both of us and Justin too."

"Thanks Gus," Brian said as he snuggled down into the sleeping bag and placed his hand over Gus' where he held onto Bear. Everyone was soon asleep.


The sun woke them the next morning. Brian felt like his body had been tied in a knot and he rubbed and stretched every part trying to ease the tight muscles. His actions awoke Gus and Justin.

"Need to pee, Daddy," were Gus' waking words.

"Justin, let's go use a real toilet this morning," Brian suggested and they all trooped up to the house hoping it wasn't too early to wake the Barnes. They found Muriel cooking breakfast and Matthew out doing some chores. After using the toilet and washing up a bit they headed back to the kitchen.

"I made enough for all of us," Muriel said with a smile. "Matthew will be in any time now, so sit down."

"We … um … you didn't have to do this," Brian stammered.

"I wanted to. I used to feed lots of hungry men when the farm was a going concern."

"Thanks, Muriel," Justin said and sat down indicating that Brian and Gus should do the same.

When Matthew arrived they all dug into the bacon and pancakes and juice. Muriel also made excellent coffee. Brian savored that more than anything. Justin wanted Muriel's recipe for the pancakes saying he had never had such light and fluffy ones. Gus cleaned his plate and let out a loud belch.

"Gus!" Brian laughed at his son's indiscretion.

"Sorry," Gus said sheepishly.

"That's just the sign of a good appetite, Gus," Muriel said. "If you didn't belch in some countries, you would offend your hosts."

"Far be it from us to do that," Brian laughed. He managed a belch of his own. Everyone had a good laugh. "If I'm going to go without bathing and I have to sleep on the ground, I might as well start scratching and belching too." He scratched at his armpits. Everyone had another good laugh at Brian's actions.

"I was talking to my neighbor this morning," Matthew said. "He's a young feller from the city. Bought the farm up the road and boards horses there. I was telling him about you staying here. He says if you'd like to help him exercise the horses you're welcome to come over after breakfast for a ride."

Gus' eyes got very big. "Can we, Daddy?"

Brian looked at Justin who nodded and smiled. "That sounds like an excellent idea. Thank you, Matthew."

"Don't thank me, thank Jake. That's his name, and it's the next lane north. I suggest you walk over."

"Thanks again. We have some things to straighten up at the campsite and then we'll head over," Justin said. "Oh, I should help you with the dishes first," he added looking at Muriel.

"You go ride the horses. I'm fine. Maybe this evening you could invite me for some of those 'Smores that Gus was telling me about," Muriel replied.

"Consider the invitation given," Brian smiled.

Some time later they each sat atop a horse, well, Gus' was a pony. Jake had them all suitably instructed and they began to trot the horses around the corral.

"Look at me, Daddy," Gus called. "I'm riding."

"Yes, you are, Sonny Boy."

When they could handle that, Jake took the lead on his horse and they walked the horses around the yard and down the lane.

"Can we show Matthew?" Gus asked as they neared the road.

"I think that could be arranged, Gus," Jake said. "Stay close to me and make sure you stay on the shoulder of the road."

They road the horses the short distance to Matthew's lane and trotted them up to the house.

"Matthew, Buck, Muriel," Gus called. They all came rushing out of the house. "Look at me!"

They made suitable comments about Gus the cowboy and how good he was at handling his horse. Jake said they should be getting back and decided to take them through the orchard, along the stream and back to his property that way.

Before they left Jake's, he loaned them a Frisbee so they could play with Gus and Buck. They spent an hour or so doing that before going fishing again. It was late afternoon by the time they got to the fishing. That time of day was good for fishing and they had many bites. They actually caught several catfish.

When they brought them back to the farmhouse, Muriel and Matthew helped clean them. Muriel showed them how to wrap them in foil with lemon and herbs and then they could cook them by the open fire. Justin asked the Barnes to join them and share in the fish. They sat around the campfire getting to know one another better, as they turned the fish in their little packets every now and then.

Finally the fish was ready and they enjoyed it immensely. Brian made sure to help Gus so that he didn't get any bones by mistake. The fish was followed by 'Smores, and Muriel got to have two. They all sang a few more songs and told some stories. By the time the Barnes went back to the house the boys were tired after a long day. They climbed into their sleeping bags with Bear to protect them. They all slept very soundly.

Monday morning came all too soon. The sun woke them and they got up to make breakfast. Everyone took turns peeing behind a tree. They got the fire built up and Brian started cooking some eggs and toasting bread over the open flames. Gus got quite good at holding the bread on a stick and turning it just enough so it didn't burn. There was lots of laughter and fun before they actually got anything to eat.

With breakfast finished they carried their utensils and plates over to the barn where they could rinse them at a tap. They began the clean-up before going home. It took most of the morning to get everything stowed away in the Jeep and the fire put out. They walked down to the stream one last time. Buck came with them and brought his favorite stick for them to toss and him to chase.

When the got back they gathered up the rods that Matthew had loaned them and carried them over to the farmhouse. They could smell something delicious emanating from the kitchen. Muriel let them in and said she wanted them to stay for lunch. She had baked fresh bread and had some cold roast beef, deviled eggs and salads. How could they refuse?

It was a bittersweet lunch knowing that their time together was almost over. Brian, Justin and Gus thanked the old couple for their hospitality and all their help and the delicious food. Gus had warm hugs for both of them. Muriel and Matthew thanked the younger ones for bringing some excitement to their long weekend. They had all enjoyed spending the weekend together.

As Brian strapped Gus into the back seat of the Jeep, Matthew told him that any time in the future that they wanted to go camping, the Barnes campground would be open. Brian and Justin hugged Matthew and Muriel and then the older couple gave Gus a kiss. They headed down the driveway with Buck barking them a farewell.

"Daddy, can we do this for my birthday next year?"

"That soon?" Brian groaned.

"Face it, you big lug," Justin said. "You enjoyed yourself."

"Okay, so I enjoyed myself," Brian admitted. "They're nice people."

"So we can go camping for Gus' next birthday?"

"Only if we come here," Brian smiled.

"Done!" Justin said with a big grin.

"Yay!" came from the backseat.

"Now let's get home so I can have a shower and sleep in a real bed and fuck your ass off," Brian whispered.


"Daddy, can I get a dog like Buck?" Gus' little voice asked.

Brian's groans echoed throughout the countryside as the Jeep sped back towards Pittsburgh.

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