"OK.... Hello? ... Maria! I miss you. I'm so, so, so sorry! I don't ever want sex. I just want you."
All Jeff hears is crying.
"Oh Maria, thank you! Thank you, Lord!"
"I'm sorry I ignored your calls, my best man. I can be hard-headed."
"And I can be pushy. Can I come over now?"
"Mama will leave soon. Can I come there?"
"Sean, can Maria come over? ... He says yes!"
Soon Maria arrives. Jeff opens the door before she gets to it. Without words they hug and they hug. Then they hug some more. "Sir, may I come in?"
Laughing, "Of course, madam."
"You're actually wearing clothes."
"Yeah, I felt like clothes today."
"Jeff, you look different. I can't believe it."
Looking down, "I do? I've gone through a lot."
"Let's go swimming."
"Sean can we go ..."
"Maria, I'm getting my bathing suit."
"You have one? I didn't bring one."
"That's OK, I'll be right back."
When Jeff gets back, Maria's sitting naked with her feet kicking the water. "Wow, Jeff. That bathing suit looks big enough to fit Sean."
"Oh well, let's swim."
They have lots of fun but Maria notes that Jeff lost his precious carefree spirit. After a long good-bye kiss, she asks, "You going to the beach tomorrow?"
"For sure, now."
"See you there, sweetheart."
35 RAD DAD, SAD DAD
Seconds after Rachel gets home through Friday's rush hour traffic, Sean's father rings the doorbell. "Hi Louis. I'm exhausted. Did you call first?"
"No. That's why I rang the doorbell. Is everyone decent?"
"We always are."
"Oh, yes. I mean dressed."
"Come in. I'll check."
Sean comes from his office. "Dad let me greet my significant other first."
"Of course," as he turns to the magazine rack to be polite.
... "OK. Dad, what's happening," reaching for his hand.
Shaking hands, "I'm sure you're eager for dinner, so I'll be brief. I examined Rachel's references to nudity during the early Church. I found them to be accurate, amazingly, but I don't share her conclusions." Turning to Rachel, "But I see your views as reasonable. So I now respect your attitude about naturism."
Rachel reaches to hug Louis, "Thank you. I'm so delighted!"
Louis stuns them both, "So I would be honored to pastor your wedding."
Sean quickly answers, "We already decided we want you to enjoy the wedding as Dad, rather than as Pastor. Rachel's girlfriend already accepted the responsibility, including four sessions of pre-marital counseling."
"Oh? OK then. Let me be on my way."
"Dad. You look sad."
"Son, I don't feel like I'm an intricate part of your life anymore."
"Dad, you equipped me with wonderful wings to fly. I treasure that always."
"Yes, I did, didn't I! Thank you, Sean."
36 NEW VIEW
When Alex sees Jeff, Sean and Rachel walk onto the beach, he runs to greet them. Then he takes Sean aside, "Sean, I see now how rude I've been to you, in so many ways. Now it amazes me at how patient you have been with me. I'll probably always think you're hot, but I don't want to shove it down your throat anymore. I don't want to hate you anymore either."
"Did Jeff put you up to this?"
Puzzled, "What do you mean?"
Smiling, "No, it's just a coincidence. I know you're being real. Thanks so much. How about a hug?"
Emotionally they hug each other tightly. Sean follows with, "Like wow! No woody today?"
Alex laughs, "Cute!"
Alex smiles, then runs over to Jeff. "You're wearing a bathing suit! It even covers your knees!"
"Yeah, I felt cool this morning."
"Cool? It's hot! So what's happening?"
"I found out who started the wild rumors."
"You did! I didn't. Who?"
"Fred and I agreed to keep his name out of it. He agreed to kill the rumors."
"Oh! No wonder. I think it worked."
"I'm lonely. Logan won't even talk to me. Have you seen him lately?"
Jeff balks, then says, "No," thinking, "A whole lot more than I bargained for."
Angrily, "OK! What's going on with you and Logan!?"
Rage surges through every inch of Jeff's body, "I hate the bas... the beast."
Alex falls over in disbelief as Jeff now screams in agony.
Frantic, "Sheeesh, this is bad!"
When Jeff calms down, "Yeah, I can't talk about it. I hurt bad."
Perplexed, "Logan couldn't hurt a fly."
"I guess it's too small."
"What are you talking about?"
"Alex, I need to be alone. I'm sorry."
"OK buddy, I'll catch you later."
When Alex leaves, Rachel comes to sit beside her son, ignoring the sand that finds her crack. "Mom, the hurt keeps coming back. It gets worse and worse."
"Yes, but it will start to lessen slowly."
"I shouldn't have said that. Just take one day of trouble at a time. What did that churchman say?"
"Trust that God knows what he's doing." Jeff sighs, "That's real hard right about now."
"When it's hardest, it's most important."
"Easy for you to say!"
"You started reading the Bible every day. Jump to the Psalms. In some, the writer cries out in agony to God."
"Really? I'll do that."
37 MUST TRUST
The sight of Jeff's bathing suit bewilders Maria as she gets to the beach. She senses it'd be best to ignore it, asking Sonya and Roberto to do the same. When she hugs Jeff she realizes Jeff already has sunscreen on. She says nothing despite her disappointment. But by now Jeff feels better, so is wonderful to be with. When he sees Fred with Cindy, he jumps for joy. He follows with, “Uh oh," thinking of his flirting with Tami.
Maria snaps, "I saw that look."
Jeff quickly admits all, including the five girls who visited. "I really had a lot of fun Maria. But afterwards I couldn't stand being without you."
Maria smiles, "You just passed the test with flying colors."
Upset, "What's that supposed to mean?"
"I already knew about the girls."
"Please don't test me. We're supposed to be committed to each other. I say something stupid and you walk off. Maybe I need to test you."
"Oh my! That's awful. I failed you. I didn't even know it! I need to tell Mama so she can correct me if I mess up again."
"See, we can do this. Now I need to tell you something, but only briefly. Please don't try to find out more from someone else."
"OK, my love."
"I'm hurting real bad about something--nothing about you. Yeah that hurt too. But Mom says this will take a long time to get over. I could tell that you have been sensing something. So now you know, it's not about you. Maybe you can help me heal."
"Oh, Jeff. Thanks for telling me. Now I don't have to worry about it. So are you ready for Fred and Cindy?"
"Sure. After a big wet one."
38 SEND FRIEND
Fred hears that Alex wasn't seeing Logan anymore, so he asks Jeff to invite Alex, Jamie and himself to go swimming. "Great idea. Jamie says he's not gay but who knows, he may hit it off with Alex."
"That's what I think too."
"No nudity though."
Jeff makes the arrangements. Alex shows up first. They go out back to talk. Jeff sees a lizard that he talks to also.
"Jeff, you make the strangest friends."
"What? Look at this lovable little lizard."
Alex laughs, "Not the lizard. Jamie. I realize Fred's no jerk no more, but Jamie!"
"Fred says he's cool now."
"That's not what I hear, but if Fred can change, anybody can. I see you're going baggie again."
Jeff smiles, "Yeah, Jamie's coming."
"Jeff, I know you better. I figure that bathing suit has something to do with Logan hurting you."
Jeff doesn't respond.
"So I have a pretty good idea what happened. But I don't want you to tell me. I really don't wanna know."
"Alex, please don't talk to anyone about it."
"I knew you would say that. We're best friends, right!"
"You bet! Thanks."
"I need to talk to Sean though, OK?"
By the way, did you steal those threads from Sean?"
Jeff just smiles. Alex knocks on the office door, even though it's open. "Come in, Alex."
"Sean, do you have a minute?"
"For you? Of course."
"I'm getting mad at Logan too, even though I don't know what he did to Jeff."
"I hear you."
"But I'm feeling guilty too. Bad."
"Do you know why?"
"I got impatient with Logan."
"Impatient about what?"
"I shouldn't say."
"About him going limp?"
Alex's eyes pop wide open.
"Yeah Alex, I thought that was it."
"So I should feel guilty!"
"No. Nodda. You weren't trying to hurt Logan, were you?
"Of course not!"
"That's my point. Next time you'll be more sensitive. That's all."
"But that doesn't change what happened. So I don't feel any better."
"That helps you understand what Logan may be feeling. But remember, Logan hurt Jeff, not you."
"Tell God what you're feeling. Leave it in his hands."
"I'm not religious."
"That doesn't matter. Oh, how about I arrange a meeting with Logan and his parents? I'll go with you."
"That's scary. How about just Logan?"
"I doubt that his parents would allow that."
"Don't bother then."
"I wouldn't force you ... but you better. Not just for you, but for Logan. His parents need it too."
"I better trust you."
"Good. I hear the guys in the pool already."
Alex races to the pool, strips down to his bikini underwear, and does a cannonball between the three boys. Jamie can't believe Alex would swim nearly naked. The thought of how hot his body is darts out of his mind like a bolt of lightning.
Fred teases, "Don't even say hello!"
Alex splashes him, leading into a splash war. Very quickly Jeff and Fred see that Jamie has the eye for Alex, but Alex does not for him. Alex, however, obviously thrives on Jamie's interest.