On The Move
“Hey, Pop, I have a question for you and is Uncle John around…?”
“Sonny Boy, two calls in one day, a world record,” Brian snarked.
“Oh ha fucking ha. I need to be serious for a minute. Okay?”
“Will I like this conversation?”
“Honestly, I don’t know, but I have to ask.”
“Go ahead,” said Brian. Brian had been reviewing contracts and making notes on new campaigns. He had reached a point in his day where his need for a fresh cup of coffee outshone all other issues. Until now…
“Ray and I were talking about doing a little remodeling,” Gus pensively uttered.
“Holy fucking shit! Is that all? I thought you and Ray were breaking up or you changed your mind about moving here!” Brian leaned heavily against the kitchen counter.
“Shit.” Father and son mumbled at the same time.
“Begin again, slowly,” Brian begged.
“After I let Ray in on our conversation this morning; by the way, he can’t wait to start at Kinnetik. Anyway, we got to talking about some slight changes we’d like to make around here.”
“Considering the loft is older than you, it is getting a little dated,” Brian sadly admitted.
“No, Dad, not really. All of the appliances and electronics are the latest models. And the furniture is beautiful and beautifully kept. Ray and I don’t want to make those kind of changes. And after living in our postage stamp of an apartment, this place is like a mansion. No, what we’d like to do is to install real doors for the bedroom. And instead of the large slat wall, make it a real wall. We like the slats on the side.”
“Anything else,” Brian asked almost dreading the answer.
“When you’re facing the kitchen, that space to the right, we want to see if a small guest bathroom would fit there,” Gus added.
“So no guests trampling through your private crap when they have to go potty,” Brian surmised in his own special way.
“Yeah,” Gus replied. Brian could just imagine the rolling of his son’s eyes.
“Uh, that’s it for now. We like the arrangement of the sofas and chairs near the big windows and I can’t see moving the dining table to anywhere else.”
“There are leaves for that table in the storage unit in the basement. I rarely used them but…”
“We’re a little more social able than you were,” Gus teased his dad.
“Hey, I can be social able,” Brian protested.
“Now you are. I know your old tricking rules. And there’s only one trick who was allowed to sit at that table,” Gus declared.
“I think you’re right, Sonny Boy,” said Brian. Gus could hear the love in his dad’s voice.
“So what do you think? Are you angry?”
“Of course not. I think the changes you’re describing make perfect sense. You and I may look alike and share some common traits but you are your own man. The loft was my proof to myself that I could do it all on my own. Make millions, fuck whoever I damn please, and to hell with anyone else.”
“Until you and Justin. Gus, the lease is in your name and Ray’s. You can do whatever you want to the loft. A part of me wants the loft to stay the same, but that’s not realistic. I’m not an over the hill club boy. That loft represents a part of my past; there were good times and really fucked up times. It’s time for the loft to be a real home. You and Ray don’t need my permission to make it into your home.”
“Thanks, Dad, that means a lot,” Gus whispered around the lump in his throat. Gus held out his hand which Ray took. “Uh, can I talk to Uncle John? We’d feel better having him and his company do the renovations.”
“Sure. Hang on; I’ll hand him the phone. He’s been scratching at his drafting board all day. I think he has another cottage idea floating around in his head,” Brian said as he walked back into the porch and up the spiral staircase to John’s home office.
“What’s up?” John asked as Brian’s size twelve’s rounded the staircase.
“Your nephew wants to tear down my loft and put up a parking lot. Here. Talk to him. I need coffee,” Brian declared as he foisted the phone into John’s hands and went back down to the kitchen. His quest for that perfect cup of coffee had been previously waylaid.
“Hi, Uncle John!”
“Gus! Good to hear from you. How’s life in the not so big city?”
“We love it. We start at Kinnetik next Monday. What I wanted to ask you is, we want to do a few renovations. Could you come over sometime so I can pitch you our ideas?”
“I’d be delighted. This is my slow season, I have plenty of time and I’m very familiar with the apartment. You name the day and time and I’ll be there with my tape measure,” John said.
“Thanks, Uncle John.”
As Gus and John agreed on a date, Brian was back with two cups of coffee. He exchanged one cup for his phone.
“All set?” Brian asked Gus.
“Yup, Uncle John will be over this Saturday. He wants to bring Patrick and Peter,” Gus explained.
“Ever the mentor, my big bro,” Brian teased but John could see pride in Brian’s eyes. Gus could hear it too. “You done with me now,” Brian asked his son.
“Okay, gotta go. Oh, Liberty Air’s contract is coming up for renewal soon. Do you think the dynamic duo can handle it?”
“Me and Ray?! You’re not shitting me, right?”
“Never when it concerns business. I’ll have Theodore email you their file. If you two get bored ripping my loft to shreds, check out the file.”
“Will do, Pop, and thanks!”
“Don’t thank me yet. That file is a foot deep. And one more thing, don’t go busting through walls until Glen Wilder gets a tour. I owe him.”
“I love you, Sonny Boy, and I’m proud of you; you and that boyfriend of yours.”
“Thanks, Dad. I love you too. Later!”
“Later,” Brian replied before he cut the connection. “What do you think?” Brian asked John.
“About renovating the loft? More importantly, what do you think? Do you think you can handle it?”
“Honestly, I have no clue. What Gus described to me makes a hell of a lot of sense. I wouldn’t have given him and Ray the apartment if I wasn’t going to allow them to turn it into a real home. Aside from my selfish wish to see another Kinney generation living there, it’s a very practical apartment.”
“You’re right. It’s a great location, in the heart of the city and near Kinnetik. It’s perfect for them. What’s with the face?” John noticed a strange expression on Brian’s face.
“Just a feeling of déjà vu.”
“Can I help?” John politely asked, although he had a feeling it was someone else’s help Brian needed.
“No thank you. Uh, I think I hear Justin calling. Gotta go!”
John laughed as Brian double timed it down the stairs in search of his spouse who was conveniently in their bedroom putting away clean laundry.
“Sunshine! Just the man I need,” Brian announced as he entered their room.
“What’s up, beside you?”
Brian gave Justin the short version, no pun intended.
“Experiencing a little possession withdrawal, are we,” Justin said as Brian flopped onto the bed. Justin made himself comfortable on the bed next to Brian.
“Yes, so what are you going to do about it?” Brian asked with a twinkle in his eyes. Justin smirked then handled the situation in his own expert style.
“Hey,” Michael said as Ben woke up in their bed. “I was wondering if you would ever wake up.”
“Sorry I took so long.”
“I don’t mind. I like watching you sleep.”
“Since when?” Ben asked with a smile.
“Since always, but especially since you moved back in here.”
“I’m happy to be home. I think we made the right decision.”
“The best decision,” Michael said as he kissed his husband’s lips.
“You’re in a good mood this morning,” Ben said as he threw back the covers.
“Yeah, I guess I am.”
“What’s got you so revved up?”
Michael smiled and shook his head. “I’m going to make breakfast, and then I’ll tell you all about it.”
“Great, I’m going to grab a quick shower.”
Some minutes later Ben joined Michael in the kitchen where they sat down to the meal that Michael had prepared. After eating in silence for a few minutes, Ben felt a need to know what was causing the smile on his husband’s face.
“So, what’s the big news?” he asked.
Michael grinned. “I can hardly wait to tell you,” Michael said, then paused for effect.
“So tell me!”
“I went into the comic shop yesterday and JR had some really exciting news.” Again Michael paused.
“News?” Ben looked expectantly at his husband.
“I’m not very good at guessing,” Ben said lamely.
“Just take a wild stab,” Michael pleaded.
“Um, is JR pregnant?” Ben asked innocently.
“Pregnant? Pregnant! Why would you think that?”
“Well, it must be good news and that was all I could think of.”
“You sure aren’t much of a guesser!” Michael declared.
“Told you I wasn’t,” Ben mumbled.
“I suppose I’ll just have to tell you,” Michael griped.
“Please do,” Ben said with exasperation.
“JR and Jacqueline are thinking of buying a house!”
“Really? That’s great.”
“You think so?” Michael asked with his face screwed up a little bit.
“At first I didn’t think it was such a good idea.”
“Oh? Why not?”
“Knowing my daughter, she would want to pay her fair share, and I really didn’t think she could afford it.”
“Did you tell her that?” Ben asked. He truly hoped that Michael had not.
“Kind of,” Michael admitted. “I asked her how the shop was doing, and she said it was slow since Christmas.”
“So you told her it wouldn’t be a good idea to be buying a house because of that,” Ben said flatly.
“Well, yeah. I don’t want her getting into a financial crunch.”
“But that’s her decision, isn’t it?” Ben said.
“That’s what she told me … in no uncertain terms.”
“Good for her.”
“What? Are you saying I was wrong to be worried about my daughter?” Michael demanded.
“Of course not! You can be as worried about her as you want, but you don’t have to tell her that.”
“Yes I do, if I want to protect her.”
“Michael, JR is a grown woman. She can do whatever she wants.”
“Why am I always wrong?” Michael asked as he slumped in his chair.
“You’re not always wrong. I didn’t mean that. I … You just need to keep your opinions to yourself sometimes.”
“Well, thanks a bunch!” Michael said folding his arms across his chest.
Ben knew that body language only too well. “Michael, I’m sorry if I rained on your parade. It seemed like you were very happy about your news.”
Michael brightened up a bit. “I was.”
“If you don’t want JR and Jacqueline to buy a house, why were you so happy?”
“That’s the thing. When I was coming back from the corner market, I saw that the house down the street has just gone up for sale. I called JR right away,” Michael said enthusiastically.
“You did? And what did she say?” Ben asked with trepidation.
“She didn’t say much of anything, but I’m sure they’ll come look at it. Wouldn’t it be great to have her living so close? We could go into work together and have them over for dinner and…”
“Michael, take a breath. What makes you think they would want to live on this street?” Ben asked calmly.
“Why not? It’s a great street, nice houses, and great neighbors,” Michael added with a big grin.
“But, they may not want an old traditional house like this,” Ben said.
“This house is great.”
“Yeah, great for us, but you’ve seen Jacqueline’s loft. It’s nothing like this place.”
“But JR will have input. Who says their new place will be anything like Jacqueline’s apartment? They’re leaving it behind, aren’t they?”
“Yes, of course.”
“I think they would be wise to choose the house down the street.”
Ben drew in a calming breath. “Remember that the decision to buy a house is theirs. And the decision as to which house to buy is also theirs.”
“I understand that. But I really think the house on our street might be the one,” Michael enthused.
“Okaay, just don’t get your hopes too high.”
Ben looked at the smile on Michael’s face and knew that the hopes were already sky high.
Later that day, with Michael watching the comic shop, JR and Jacqueline were at Jennifer’s house to discuss the hunt for a new home.
“Have you gone to the bank to see what mortgage you are eligible for?” Jennifer asked.
“Is that necessary?” JR asked.
“Unless you’re going to pay for the whole house right off the bat, it’s very necessary.”
“I could probably put together enough for the full price,” Jacqueline said.
“No! No, I want to put my share into the house,” JR protested. “I don’t want you to pay for everything.”
“You don’t like being a kept woman?” Jacqueline joked. The glare she got from JR made her realize that this was no laughing matter to her partner. “I know you want to put in your fair share,” she said, back-tracking as adeptly as she could.
“So, we should make an appointment with the bank?” JR asked Jennifer.
“I would advise it. Then you’ll know what price range you can afford and we can get started looking,” Jennifer said. “Do you have a style of house you’re thinking of?”
The two women looked at each other.
“We really haven’t discussed that,” Jacqueline admitted.
“Well, if there’s some types of houses you like the look of or don’t like the look of, that will help me narrow down the possibilities. Also, think about location. Which part of the city do you want to live in? Is that really important, or would the suburbs be a good choice?”
“I don’t have a car,” JR said uncertainly, “so I’m not sure about the suburbs.”
“Okay, so probably in the city,” Jennifer said.
“Do we have to make all these decisions right now?” Jacqueline asked.
“Oh no,” Jennifer said quickly. “These are just things to think about. I’m sure you’ll have a lot to talk about after you see the bank manager.”
“Seems like we’ve got a lot to talk about right now,” Jacqueline said. She looked at her partner who looked as worried as she felt inside.
“I think maybe that’s enough for today,” Jennifer said softly. “Give me a call when you have the financing arranged, and call if you have any other questions.”
“Thanks, Jennifer,” JR said as she stood up.
“Don’t worry, JR,” Jennifer said gently. “I’m sure we can find the perfect place for you two. It may take a little time, but it’s out there.”
“Thanks,” Jacqueline said abruptly as she headed for the door.
JR followed her out to the car. Once they were buckled in, Jacqueline didn’t start the car. She turned to face her lover.
“I had no idea this was going to be so complicated,” she said in an almost accusing tone.
“It’s not my fault that we have to make all these decisions,” JR said defensively.
“I know, I know.” Jacqueline’s frown made a deep crease in her brow. “This isn’t going at all the way I thought it would.”
“I know what you mean, but Jennifer has our best interests at heart.”
“I get that. We need to start figuring out the answers to all her questions.”
“If there are answers,” JR said quietly.
“What does that mean?”
“What if we find out that we like totally different things or that you don’t want to live in the type of house that I can afford? Maybe we’re making a big mistake.”
“So, what…? Should we just stay where we are? Are we going to give up before we even start?” Jacqueline challenged.
“I don’t want to give up,” JR said sincerely. “I’d really like to live with you in a place that’s ours. Is that too much to ask?”
Jacqueline relaxed her grip on the steering wheel. She realized she had clamped onto it to help ground her during this discussion.
“It’s not too much to ask,” Jacqueline said softly. “I love you. We’ll figure it out.”
“You really believe that?”
JR let out a long breath. “That makes me feel better anyway.”’
“I’m sorry if my reaction upset you.”
“This whole meeting upset me,” JR admitted. “Do you think we’re ready to do this?”
“We’re about to find out,” Jacqueline said as she started the car.
“Um, before you pull out into traffic…”
“I got a call from my father to tell me that there’s a house for sale on his street. He wants us to have a look at it.” JR waited for the explosion.
“Did you tell him we would?” Jacqueline asked as calmly as she could. Her stomach was doing flip-flops.
“I didn’t give him an answer, but you know what he’s like.”
“Yeah,” Jacqueline said as she put the car in gear and pulled away.
They rode home in silence.
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