"NO! HIGHER! TO THE RIGHT! NO, NO, TOO FAR, BACK! GOOD, THERE, NAIL IT RIGHT THERE! YEAH, THAT'S GREAT!"
I walked back a few dozen yards to look at the huge banner. Excellent, you can see it right from the first turn into the drive. Grand Reopening! "This is going to be great for business," I thought to myself as I passed through the main entry into the lodge proper.
The main lodge was an older structure, built in the 1890's. Originally, the building was a retreat for some rich lumber baron as hunting and fishing retreat. Built in rustic style, the old building had a warm and comfortable feeling to it. There were lots of exposed beams, and the main support columns were entire trees, stripped of their bark and hand rubbed to a soft golden sheen. At one end of the lobby, opposite the front desk, was a massive cut stone fireplace. Several large overstuffed chairs spread about made a comfortable spot for a quiet read, or to wait for that special someone. Lately though, it seemed the chairs were turned facing the area where the houseboys waited for a call. Well that's Boysville, ah Baysville for you.
Through the massive hand carved double doors at the far end of the lobby was the lakeside restaurant. This was a newer wing of the building copied at great expense to match the detail and ambiance of the old lodge. Built right up to the water's edge, the grand room arched in a wide half circle with a continuous expanse of floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors which slid into pockets at either end. This scenic vista was punctuated by five more hand rubbed tree trunks. Further on, a fifty-foot wide deck spanning the full one hundred and fifty feet arc of the dining room spread out before a panoramic view of the beautiful azure waters of Tickle Naked Lake. This truly was that million-dollar view you always hear about.
Featuring a Michelin 2-star menu and even better dinner entertainment, fine dining in the Lakeside Room at Puerhaven is surely unparalleled. And for your after dinner pleasure, entertainment and dancing till 1:00am. Then as the wee hours approached, retire to your luxurious suite, or relax at one of our secluded garden pavilions, each with a unique view of the lake.
Yes, if you need a quiet getaway, are on the prowl for a new romance, or looking to rekindle an old flame, Puerhaven Resort and Spa is the place for you. Don't forget the fully equipped spa, indoor and outdoor pools, and lakeside hot tubs. Plus, at no extra charge, a world-class eighteen-hole golf facility with the cutest caddies on the continent.
To be sure, if you are looking for a gay time in the country, Puerhaven Resort and Spa is the place where everything will always be "As You Please."
Drew was at the concierge's station talking on the phone. I know better than to interrupt him when he’s working on a deal. I just waved in his direction and continued through the lobby to the front desk. Bjorn had his back to me and was sorting mail for some of the long-term guests. I took a moment to enjoy the view: I just loved it when he reached for those upper mail slots. Bjorn was just plain gorgeous, no other word would or could do him justice.
Bjorn was my right hand man. The day manager here at Puerhaven, Drew and I had found him.... oh my.... is it going on seven years ago now? We will have to do something for that anniversary. Bjorn had been working in a little ski resort in the Bavarian Alps and from the first time I laid eyes on him I knew he was perfect... Oh, for the job I mean.... And that Swedish accent was just perfect for the world-class atmosphere I was trying to achieve at Puerhaven.
Whoever said good looks and brains were a contradiction in terms needed a good lesson from Bjorn. Not only was he devastating to look at but he was a master of organization. He took care of all the details of day-to-day management here at the hotel. And that was more than fine with me; for I would much rather spend my time seeing to it that my guests were cared for properly.
Drew is responsible for the comfort of the guests. From theater tickets to arranging an intimate rendezvous and everything in between, Drew was the man to see. We've been partners since first buying Puerhaven back when it was a simple fishing lodge. Drew knows everyone, and everyone knows him. Heh, yeah well we try and overlook that. Anyway, he also took care of the soon to be world famous Puerhaven houseboys. They did everything here that needed doing, from carrying guest bags, to waiting tables in the dining room, room service, and generally keeping the guests happy. Very happy.
Thinking of which, where were they? There was usually two or three hanging around. I rang the service bell and Bjorn turned and said, "Can I be of some assista-" Then he smiled and added, "Oh, hello Marc, what can I do for you?"
"Where are all the boys?" I asked, waving an arm at the corner where they usually congregated.
"I'm not really sure, but I think it has something to do with that band some of them are getting together." Bjorn answered.
Drew was just hanging up the phone and I waved him over, "Maybe you can tell me, what has happened to all your boys?" Drew is so ferociously protective of his boys that I was sure he would be keeping track of their whereabouts.
"That reporter was asking for directions to Willie Lee’s place and overheard Mouse say they needed a ride to get some equipment to band practice, so Dougie offered to save me a trip into town." Drew tossed a small clipboard back on the desk top, "We are going to need more boys soon, summer is coming fast."
"Put an ad in the paper again. And post the usual signs." I said. Every spring it was the same thing. "And let's bump up their hourly to $7.50. With all the extra services they are being called for, it’s the least we can do."
"Sure, that should help. I'll put out the signs this afternoon." And then Drew added, "I also received a letter today about the club act we hired for the summer."
"And?" I said.
"Did you know he is going to arrive in the next day or two?" Drew asked sardonically.
"What? I made it plain that I wanted him here two weeks before Independence Day. That’s weeks away yet!!" This entire conversation was not going the way I wanted, and I added, "Let’s talk about it later. I have an early meeting to attend, and I am going to need Bjorn. Would you mind watching the desk for an hour or two?" Not waiting for an answer, I headed off.
"I will, and you know the boys always show up in plenty of time." Drew said while pulling out his personal phone book. Then added, under his breath, "Take your hour with Bjorn, bitch."
As I passed the desk I said to Bjorn, "Come on, I'm ready now." And I waited for him at the door to the north wing and the residence area of the old lodge. This part of the old building was the part I kept for myself. Eight spacious rooms crafted by the finest artisans of the nineteenth century.
Bjorn entered, passing by me at the doorway. Immediately I walked up behind him and gave him a tiny kiss on the back of the neck. "He is getting in one of his jealous moods again."
Bjorn laughed saying, "Yes, I've noticed." He sat on a chair and added, "Do you think he suspects us, I mean what is really going on?"
"No, I don't think so." I looked at my watch, then shook my head adding, "Where is that kid? I told the Mouse yesterday we were to meet at 11:00am sharp."
"He was out there in the lobby earlier, I heard him mooching a ride to Andy Paulfield’s house from that reporter." Bjorn said.
"We both know how he is with his music." I was getting impatient. "Let's go on without him. I have something I need to do later."
"All right, we’d better get going; then." Bjorn got up and walked to the private entrance of the owners' residence.
Before he went out the door I said, "One minute, I have to get the tapes." I turned and went to a closet door, unlocked it, and went inside. After ten or so seconds I returned with a heavy briefcase. I relocked the door and checked to make sure it was secured, and met Bjorn at the door. I gave him a quick kiss and said, "Ready, lets go."
We loaded the case in the trunk of my Mercedes, got in and lowered the top. It was a beautiful day, and I was going to enjoy some of it one way or another. And as I drove out of town heading for the city, I thought about the entertainment I had hired for the summer. "Did Drew tell you that the club act is arriving early?"
"Yeah, he did. I hope he’s as good as that tape he sent." Bjorn was showing genuine concern at this point, "You didn't even ask for a picture, that's not like you at all."
"I just had a feeling about him." And I knew what that feeling was; I had only known one other person who could sing like that. I had to meet this guy.
"Yes, I know." Bjorn said. “And if that famous feeling of yours is off, at least we have a few extra weeks to whip his act into shape before the Season gets too busy!”
Meanwhile, in another time zone…
“What do you mean? I told you if he insists on all this, I am through with him! What do you think they’ll say at work if they find out he is a, a, GOD DAMN IT!!! I can't even say the fucking word! What are the neighbors going to say! NO! I said no! I won’t have it under my roof! I told you to send him to that military academy and I meant it! They specialize in this sort of thing. They will make a man out of him, one way or another! And that's final!”
This has been going on and on for the past week. My Dad didn't take the news as well as I had hoped he would. Mom was kind of OK with it but Dad blew his stack. I got up off the bed and went into my bathroom, took a squirt, and went to the sink to wash my hands. In the mirror, I could see that the black eye was starting to fade but the cuts on my lip and eyebrow still looked nasty. As I inspected the marks on my face, I heard from downstairs my Dad yell to my Mom, "And I mean it, just get it done!" And the door slammed shut. After a minute I heard the car peel out of the drive.
I went back to inspecting my cuts and bruises when I was startled by a knock on the door. "Wha, wha, what is it?" I blurted out.
"Khevvyn, it's me. Can I speak with you?" Mom said from behind the door.
I let her in and looked at her. The rings around her eyes told me she had been crying. I went to put my arms around her and as I did so I broke down and sobbed into her shoulder. "I'm so sorry Mom, I never meant for any of this to happen."
"Khevvyn, honey, it's not your fault. I know it was a shock for me, but I also know you can't pick and choose these things." Mom rubbed my back just like she used to do when I was sick as a little kid.
"Why did he do it? All I ever wanted was for him to be proud of me," I said, sniffling.
Mom reached for a tissue and handed me the rest of the box. We both blew our noses and wiped our tears. Mom said, "Your Dad comes from a strict upbringing, and he is afraid." She gathered me up in her arms again and added, "He’s such a proud and traditional man. I don't think he will ever fully accept it, honey."
Those words tore at my heart, and I broke down into tears again. "I'm not going to go to any military school. I WON'T!"
"I don't know what else to do to convince him otherwise, your father is certain this is something that can be cured, like a cold or something." Mom replied.
I took Mom into my bedroom and reached deep under my mattress and pulled out a magazine. The dog-eared page was already tattered and stained from tears and a bit of blood and showed the wrinkles of being read over and over. I handed it to Mom and she said the title of the article out loud. "Baysville: The Word Means Tolerance." And she read it all without saying a saying a word. And when she was done she looked at me and asked, "When did you plan on going?" And tears began leaking from the corners of her eyes despite her effort to remain calm and positive for me.
I got down on my knees in front of her and rested my head on her lap, saying, "I have a ticket already, I have a job, and it comes with a place to stay, and meals. Sorry to have kept that a secret from you before now, but I didn’t want you to worry." I looked into the swollen eyes of my Mom and added, "Mom I really need this. I can't go to that school Dad wants me to go to. I won't do it."
"I know honey, I don’t want you to go there either." She ran her small hand through my hair, and still looking at the magazine continued, "If this is what you want, I will not stand in your way."
"Thanks Mom. I won't let you down, I promise." I had never meant anything more in my short life.
"Come on then, let's stop all this foolishness. We have to get you ready." And with that Mom kicked into high gear and started rushing around the room gathering all the things I would need for the road.
It didn't take long to get to the city. It never did this early on a Saturday. We made our way to the usual parking facility and locked up the car. I retrieved the briefcase from the trunk and we were off. The business district was kind of busy for a Saturday, but that is the city for you: never a quiet moment. I surely couldn’t stand it full time!
We had to cross the main drag, and then just had a short walk down the block to the Hanson building. Once in we headed for the elevators, and Bjorn pushed seven on the panel. The door reopened we stepped out and walked down the hall. The plaque by the door read "Com-Pound Video" and I said, "Here we go."
I held the door for Bjorn and followed him inside. The receptionist was managing a client and I just pointed to the door at the far end of the office and said, "Is he in?"
The girl nodded and smiled as she gestured us toward the inner sanctum and we went right in. The man behind the desk got up and shook our hands. "Hello Adam, we are ready for a new batch," I said, and without waiting for an answer I went on to say, "These were basically OK, but they really aren’t what our clientele expect. If we're going to do business then you are going to have to source out better quality. Remember, at Puerhaven it’s, "As you please", not "Well, this might do."
Adam went around the desk and opened the top drawer saying, "I'm sorry but with what you are paying, that is the best I can do." Then he reached in and pulled out a ledger book and a large file. "There are several suppliers but the price... well, it will cost a bit more."
I put the briefcase on the desk and opened it. As I began removing the two dozen videos I asked, "All right, how much more?"
Adam pulled an adding machine a bit closer to him and rapidly punched the keys. "Hmm, looks like another twelve dollars and fifty cents."
"Oh, that is not too bad." I said with relief.
"That's per tape." Adam added.
"What! Why you thieving little bastard, if you think I am going to give you another two hundred and fifty dollars you had better come up with tapes good enough to make a baseball bat cum!" I ranted.
Bjorn, just stood there taking it all in. After the bitching and moaning was all said and done, he cut in with, "Well, let's see what you have."
Adam went to the wall where there were three locked steel cabinets. After five minutes of fumbling around with a ring if keys, he managed to get them all opened. Bjorn started making selections and handed them to Adam who put the title in a ledger. It didn't take long for him to choose the twenty-four tapes we needed for the hotel. "You know Adam, for the price we are paying, for a few dollars more we could buy them."
I took out my checkbook and settled up with Adam then I queried, "Now what about the other arrangements, since there are only three more weeks?"
Adam came back with, "Right, the dancers…I've got a letter here somewhere…Hmm, well anyway it said in essence they’ll arrive one or two days before as singles or couples. This is going to be one hell of a party."
"Good, he deserves it." I finished. And with that Bjorn closed the briefcase and we went on our merry little way.
"Lee? Good, I'm glad you have your hearing aids on. Hi, Drew here... yes I'm fine. Look, I need a...Yes love, it’s good to hear from you too. Lee, I nee... Yes babe I'd love to, I'll call, yes later in the week. Lee, I need a... No Honey, I won't forget. Now my sweet, please listen I need an adver... Lee, I promise, I'll call, now I need to place an advertisement. Yes love, I will. Now we need some more domestic... No, No I won't. Yes, for the hotel. I will, I promise. Yes. Same as last time. Yes. Yes I know. No. Bye Lee."
I scratched that call off the short list of things to do today and thought to myself, well, that’s done. I penned a short note to call Lee back before the weekend and took it to the concierge's desk so I wouldn’t lose it. I would never live it down if I forgot to call him.
Taking some paper from the Xerox machine, I made a sign to copy and post around town.
PUERHAVEN RESORT & SPA
HIRING FULL TIME HOUSEBOYS
APPLY IN PERSON
Good. That will do just fine. I put the sign in the copier and hit 25 on the counter. While I waited for the copies I needed, Marc and Bjorn returned from their meeting. I made a point of looking at my watch and when I did I noticed they had been gone over three hours.
"Well, it is 3:30pm, and I have to be getting some of my work done." I said while looking once again at my watch.
Marc responded with, "Have you seen the Mouse yet?"
"No, I haven't seen a one of them all afternoon. He said something about band practice at Andy's and I haven't seen them since." I said. "I called the paper. The ad for house boys will be in the next edition."
"On your way into town would you swing over by Andy's house and tell them to come back to work." Marc asked.
"Sure, I'll find them for you." I said. And repressed the urge to snap something else not so friendly-like.
Gathering up the signs, and a staple gun, I headed to the parking lot. I put everything in the passenger seat and drove off. All the way into town I grimly thought about how I was going tell Marc what I needed to say.
I figured I would drive out to the Andy's first and pick up the boys. Then I could get them to help spread the signs around town. Andy's place was just a little way out the other side of town near the Green, and it only took two or three minutes to get there. Just head for the church steeple and you couldn’t miss it.
As I pulled into the driveway I spotted the whole crew climbing out of an old beat up 4-wheel drive thingy. It was so covered in mud it was hard to tell just exactly what make it was. The driver looked very familiar.
I got out of the Puerhaven Jeep and said, "Willie Lee, I swear! It’s been forever." And I gave him a big hug.
"Drew, I've missed you, it really has been a while." Willie returned the hug doubly so, and we laughed our hellos to each other.
"Well, where did you find this motley crew?" I asked, pointing at all the kids there gawking at us.
"Oh, Mousie there was all down about losing their practice space here at Andy’s. Did you hear yet how that so-called ‘Pastor’ Creed made them stop playing because he thought it was too noisy?” I shook my head no, but wasn’t that surprised. Creed’s reputation was certainly consistent with that action. Willie continued, “So I offered the use of my barn until they can find a place of their own," Willie replied, adding, "I might even get a chance to help them with some other stuff once in a while, too."
Mousie was struck dumb by Willie's offer to actually help with their music and just stared with his mouth hanging open.
"Well, that is really nice of you." I said to my musician friend. I then turned to the boys, "I have something quick for you to do for me, are you guys ready to go to work?" I said winking at Willie.
Mousie and Jay agreed they should get a few minutes work in today, and said, "Ok boss, what do you want us to do?" Then they both burst into a fit of laughter.
I had a feeling there was more to this, but didn't pay them any mind. "Come on and I’ll show you," I said, and made my farewells to Willie Lee and the rest of the kids as I left with my houseboys in tow.
I asked Mouse, "Are you happy now?"
"Whaddaya mean?" the Mouse responded, a little too innocently.
"You know what I mean. You guys have been trying to figure out a way to get to meet Willie Lee for the last month, and there he is acting like an old buddy." I looked over at the Mouse for an answer and when I did not get one, I just had to rub it in, "Look at you. You can't think of a thing to say."
Mouse just looked at me with that wide innocent smile while biting on his finger. He never noticed but he did that whenever he was caught at one of his crazy schemes, then said, "Drew, thanks for letting us go this afternoon. It really meant a lot to us."
"I know it does, and I'm only too glad to help. Now what do you say? Let's stop for some lunch. Ok?" I asked.
"Lusiad's sure, I'm starved!" They all chimed at the same time.
Boys! I've never seen one that wasn’t hungry.
We pulled up right in front and the boys were in the door before the Jeep came to a complete stop. I followed them into the restaurant at a more mature and sedate pace.
Mouse spotted T. J. stacking glasses by the soda dispenser and he and Jay went right over.
Luis asked them if they wanted the usual and both boys answered, "Yes, please!" in chorus. As I took my seat Luis said, "Hello Drew, what can I get for you today?"
"Just coffee. Thanks, Luis." I spotted the new face in the restaurant and asked, "Where did you find the new help?"
"Oh, that’s T. J. He came into town a few days ago. Your crew already knows him." Luis replied.
"Really, any more where that came from?" I replied, never taking my eyes off the young beauty.
"Prolly, lots, but they haven't made their way into town. Yet."
"Ahhh, I see another refugee." I mused.
Luis went on to say, "If this keeps up we are going to run out of places to put them."
The three boys came over to the table each carrying a large glass of cola. "I've got space in my room!" Mouse, all of a sudden, felt the need to inject that into the conversation.
Luis and I stopped, turned and stared at him.
"What?" Mousie looked from Luis to me and back again then added, "What did I say?"
Jay nudged T. J. and spoke up saying to Mouse, "Better quit while you're ahead, dude."
Luis took the order to the kitchen and five or six minutes later T. J. came back with our food. "Would you like anything else with that?" He said.
Mousie muttered something under his breath and Jay burst into a fit of laughter. T. J. glared at both of them and I could tell the comment had struck a nerve. I reached a foot over and gave Mouse a good solid kick on his shin.
He shot upright in his seat and whined, "What the hell was that for?" And he bent down and rubbed his leg.
I looked daggers at Mouse and nodded curtly towards T. J. and the Mouse said, "I'm sorry dude, I didn't mean anything."
T. J. smiled weakly at Mousie and said, "No. It's OK. Really." He started heading back toward the kitchen, but after four or five steps Mouse got up and ran to catch up with T. J. They shared a few quiet words and after a minute T.J. was back to his old happy self.
On a trip by with hot coffee, T. J. was refilling my cup as he asked, "What’s with the baby blue shorts?"
"We work at the resort. This is what we have to wear." Jay said.
"Yeah, it really isn’t all that bad. We all have a lot of fun there at Puerhaven," Mousie threw in for good measure.
"Maybe I can get out there and check it out sometime?" T. J. asked.
"You are welcome anytime." I said, and T. J. smiled. My, that boy had a devastating smile.
As T. J. started back to the kitchen, Mouse got up and spoke softly to him once more. I could hear only bits and pieces of the conversation, but I definitely made out the word "party". So the Mouse was planning another one of his little get togethers. Well, we'll see about that.
As we were finishing, Luis emerged from the kitchen, and I asked if I could put up another help wanted sign by the door. As usual he gracefully offered to clear a prominent place among the several posters there.
“Thank you, Luis, and nice meeting you, T. J." And we left to put up more posters around town. To the boys I said, "Come on, let's get these posters up. Then I’ll give you a lift to get your gear."
Mouse said, "Thanks Drew, you're the best."
I thought to myself once again how glad I was that there was a place in the world for nice kids like this. I smiled to myself and drove off to finish my errands, and take care of my boys.
Riding on a bus! Shit, this has to be the worse possible way to get anywhere. Mom had said it was going to be tedious. But this really sucked. It is impossible to sleep, and my head is pounding. And there was a gaggle of screaming kids. At least there were plenty of empty seats and I could stretch out a bit. Three days though, that is way too long to be stuck on a bus. I just want it to end!
I complain too much. Mom always said just take one thing at a time, then move onto the next. Well, at least I am not going to end up in that awful military school. I'd rather sell my ass in the street and live in a cardboard box than end up in a place like that. Mom was pretty cool about my doing this, so as long as Dad doesn't interfere, I'll be OK.
Reaching up, I pulled down a small bag from the overhead rack. I dug out a fresh stick of gum, and once again pulled out the Peeps magazine and opened it to the article on Baysville. I switched on the overhead light, and began reading for what seemed the thousandth time, the story of my new home. It was late and the more I read the more blurred the words became...
In my dream, my Dad was pacing back and forth. Every time he looked in my direction he made a comment like, "I can't believe MY kid wants to be a fag!" or "What are my friends going to say when they find out you are a queer?" I tried to escape to my room but he blocked that move and pushed me back into the sofa. I started to cry. I didn't want to, but it just started and I couldn't stop.
My dad just looked at me and said to my mom, "Just get him out of my sight, COME ON!!! GET HIM OUT!!! LET'S GO..."
"Lets go, come on, let's go, you're here now, kid..." The bus driver was shaking me awake, and I put up my hands and started flailing my arms.
"NO! Stop it! I'm sorry, I can't help.... I, I'm sorry, mister."
"Hey kid, it's all right. Ain't nobody going to hurt you here, this is Baysville, that shit don't happen here." The bus driver was a nice man. I was the only passenger to go the full thousand some odd miles and he had kind of watched out for me.
"Thanks Mr. Cramden, you were real nice, I appreciate it." I said.
"Hey kid, just call me Ralph. Come on, let's get your gear." It was early in the morning and the sun was just breaking free of the mountains to the east. We stepped down from the bus and Ralph opened the luggage thingy underneath. There were four suitcases and three large nylon duffels.
Mom had taken me out and spent a fortune on all new clothes. More like all new everything. She said if I was determined to do this thing, I was not going to do it in old clothes. Mom is great. I miss her already.
Ralph helped me stuff all the bags and such into three lockers. Then he went back under the bus and got the large case that held my keyboard. "I'll keep this with me, Ralph. Thanks again for all your help."
"Happy to help you, kid. You be sure and take care of yourself, now." And with that Mr. Cramden got back onto the bus and from the drivers seat said, "You will be OK here, son. This is a good town." With that being said he was back on the road to the city. As the fumes from the bus cleared I sat down onto one of the bus station’s benches and pulled an old letter out of my bag. I carefully opened the worn envelope and took out the note inside.
Thank you for the demo tape. The terms of hire are listed on the enclosed contract. Please sign, notarize, and return at your earliest possible convenience.
Anxiously awaiting your arrival.
This was the one thing that worried me. What is going to happen to me when they find out the "club act" is me? All they ever told me back home was, 'You're too young, kid!' or 'Not enough experience!' How do you get experience if no one will give you a chance?
Well, no sense worrying about it now. This paper is what got me this far and it’s no time to get cold feet. I'm here and I'm staying! And that's final. I looked around and just down the street there was what looked to be a diner/restaurant just opening its doors. "Lusiad's", the sign said. I remember something about that place, seemed nice from the magazine. "Maybe I'll get some breakfast." I said aloud in a very self-satisfied tone. And with that I picked up my instrument case and walked the short distance to the diner. As I came up on the door to the eatery I happened to notice a poster, "Help wanted... Houseboys... " Are they cute, I wondered to myself.
I went in and found a booth, and putting the case in one seat, I took the other. As I was perusing the menu, a man came out of the kitchen with a loud yawn. "How about some coffee? I just made it."
"Sounds great, I haven't had fresh made in about a week." I answered.
"Good, I can't function until I get my first cup, either. I've never seen you around here before, you new in town?"
"Yup, I just got off the bus."
"Here you go." The man moved the instrument case and took a seat. "I hope you aren't ready to order yet." And he poured him self a coffee. "I'm Chris." And he held out his hand.
"Khevvyn. I'm pleased to meet you." I took his hand and gave it a good shake.
"So, what brings you to Baysville?" Chris asked.
"Um, ah, well, I, ah..."
"Look you don't have to say anything, I understand." And Chris refilled my cup. "I think I have something you'll like. I'll be right back." And Chris disappeared to the kitchen.
After several minutes he returned with a steaming plate of scrambled eggs with a sausage thingy cut up in it and a cup of salsa on the side. I was starved and dug right in. "Yum, this is good, thanks." And Chris just sipped from his coffee and smiled.
"That's an old family recipe. Eggs and linguisa. But the salsa is my idea." Chris took another sip of his coffee and went on to say, "So you are going to need a place to stay?"
I pulled out the tattered letter and showed it to Chris, "I have a job all arranged. Could you give me directions to the Puerhaven Resort?"
"Well, it is only a couple of miles out of town, along the shore to the left." And he pointed down the hill.
"Thanks, Chris. How much do I owe you?" I asked, as I was getting ready to leave.
"Make it two bucks. Seeing as you are the first person to try it."
"I thought you said it was an old family recipe?"
"Well, the first non-family person…"
I settled up and said my thanks, and headed down toward the shore. At the corner there was a signpost with several small arrows pointing this way and that. I read up and down each side until I found one that said, ‘Puerhaven 2.6 miles’.
Well that was that. I could have a nice walk and I'd finally find out if this was all going to work out.
It didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would. Before too long I saw a big wrought iron sign supported by elegant columns made of thin slabs of stone. Each column had a bronze plaque that said Puerhaven Resort & Spa, then underneath it said, "As You Please."
I started up the drive and was nearly run down by a light blue Jeep screaming down the road. The thing squealed to a stop and a young guy turned in his seat and said, "Whoa, sorry dude, that was pretty close. You really should walk on the side."
He hopped out leaving the Jeep to slowly roll away saying, "Hi, you're new around here. I'm Paul, but everyone just calls me Mouse." He held out his hand for a shake.
I just pointed past him at the itinerant Jeep and said, "Man, your ride is getting away," Mouse turned and ran after it, pulling the hand brake.
"Shit, I do that all the time," He came back and shook my hand and asked, "Dude, let me give you a ride down to the lodge!"
"Ah, um, well OK. Thanks." I said a little warily. And I climbed in, stowing the case and bag in the back.
Mouse started the engine and threw it into gear. Flooring the gas pedal he tore a wide swath in the white gravel of the road surface as he spun around and ripped back up the way I was walking.
"I'm Khevvyn, glad to know you, I think." I said, and in less than a minute we were pulling up in front of the lodge.
As the Jeep came to a sideways halt, the door swung open and a man came out yelling, "Mouse! What the hell are you doing? What have I told you about driving the Jeep?"
"Look what I found!" Mouse said pointing a thumb at me. "Khevvyn, this is Marc."
"Don't try to change the subject!" Marc barked. Then added with a smile, "Hello, Khevvyn, I’m very please to meet you in person."
"Thanks," I replied. All of a sudden my nerves were acting up again.
"I'll talk to you later, Paul," Marc said to Mouse. He sounded pissed, but not too bad.
"Yes, sir," Mouse said. I could see he was busting a gut trying not to crack up. He quickly disappeared inside.
I went over and shook Marc's hand saying, "I appreciate you giving me this chance, sir."
"Ok. First thing, drop the 'sir'. Every time I hear that I turn around looking for my father." The smile on Marc's face evaporated as fast as it had appeared. "You and I have something to discuss."
"I, I, um. Is there, um, ah, something wrong, sir?" I didn't know whether to go in or drop everything and run for the woods.
Marc must have sensed that I was about to panic, so he said, "Look, there is nobody anywhere in this town who’s is going to hurt you." He walked over and held the door for me.
"Just put your things over by that desk." Marc pointed at a tall desk with another man on the phone. "Drew, watch these things will you? Thanks." The man on the phone nodded and waved at us while never missing a beat of his conversation.
"Follow me, Khevvyn." Marc went behind the front desk and went into a small office. I followed him in and sat in the seat he motioned to. "Now, let's get right to it, shall we? How old are you, really?"
"I'll be sixteen in two months, sir." All of a sudden I was feeling sick. I could feel my eyes begin to swell with tears, and when I looked up I felt a tear roll down my cheek.
"All right, now there is no cause for that." Marc said and he pulled a box of tissues out of a desk drawer and handed it to me.
"Please don't send me back. I'll leave if you want, but I'm not going back home." I got up and started for the door.
Then Marc stood up and said, "I have a contract with you young man! You are not going anywhere until you fulfill your part of the agreement."
I sat back down and asked, "Can I really sing in your club?"
"Well, we will have to see just what you can do first hand." Marc said, adding, "Let's get you settled and tomorrow we will set something up. How does that sound?"
I was coming to realize that there was nothing bad happening. And I felt at last like I was finally going to be all right. "Yea, that sounds great. Thanks, Marc."
"The main thing you have to remember here is always to tell me the truth. Everything good follows from that. Now, go out there and get your gear, and we’ll fix you up with a room over in staff housing."
"Ok. Thanks." I got up and headed out to do as I was told and as I opened the door I stopped dead in my tracks. I could only utter one word.