The California Zephyr
by Joe Butterman
Chapter 12: So Summer Comes
What a year that was.
We’re driving down to Anaheim for the summer. Just right now I wish we were taking the train. It’s my turn to drive and we’re drifting through the virtually featureless desert in my new car. Davey is dozing on the front seat next to me. He’s all contorted like a pretzel, but is breathing deeply. I suggested that he just jump in the back seat where there would be room to be comfortable, but no. He wanted to keep me company. I suppose sleeping is a form of keeping company but it’s leaving me pretty bored. Oh well, we’ll be in Tonopah pretty soon and then it will be his turn to drive for a while. There are no radio stations or anything out here; just the wind, the mostly straight highway, and sleeping beauty over there.
Davey is going to be an intern at Tonio’s law office two days a week. That’s what really sold his parents on the idea of the whole summer in Anaheim. What parent doesn’t think that it might be nice to have a lawyer for a son. Prior to that, they’d been thinking pretty much in terms of a week or two; but we needed more time for skinny dipping in Gary’s pool, modeling for Emily, trips to the beach, and a cruise on Tonio’s cabin cruiser. Mostly, though, we didn’t mention those things to Davey’s parents. Plus, Davey was actually pretty jazzed about the idea of working in a law office. Of course he’s also jazzed about the idea of a beautiful sun tan without any tan lines.
It’s pretty remarkable how smoothly things settled in after Mr. Arndt exited the scene. Val and his Mom are now in Fresno and Larry is going to visit them this summer. Val seems to think he’ll be able to get a job for both of them so that will work out pretty well. We write regularly. There’s no chance of them coming to Anaheim. Val’s brother is pretty serious about work and Val being a part of and learning their business.
I spent the rest of the year with Davey and that worked out real well. His Mom and Dad are completely oblivious, so we might as well have been living in our own apartment as far as night games were concerned. His Mom is a great cook however, and I flattered her and complimented her extravagantly. She unbent a lot. I just called her “Mom” and she was sort of flattered, and then Davey started calling her “Mom” too, and she couldn’t hardly say anything about that. Davey’s Father must have heard this from time to time, but he never said anything. Then one day, Davey answered the phone, it was for his Father, but he just yelled down the hall, “Dad-O! Phone!” And that was the end of “Father” at home.
Dino now works at the ranch and he and Tomas are an item. We’re all trying to figure this whole queer thing out. We don’t like that word, but then we don’t like any of the other words that we’ve heard either. Homosexual is definitely out. That’s just way too clinical sounding for what is really all about love and affection. So we’re all finding our way and we just mostly use regular, old fashioned, all-American sweet talk to each other. There is, after all, nothing whatsoever that is “light” about Dino in greasy coveralls making an engine behave; nothing “bent” about Tomas on horseback, an extension of the horse, an echo of the ancient partnership between man and horse.
Tomas is settling right into a regime of studying and tutoring and is no longer resisting the idea of school. Dino, after all, has his diploma and everyone else in his world is getting an education, so peer pressure can be a good thing sometimes.
Dino now works at the ranch, too; so he and Tomas are pretty much an item. Pretty unlikely at first blush – the cowboy and the mechanic. I’m thinking that next year, Dino will probably be able to ride a horse. I wonder if he’ll be wearing his Levis properly.
I really don’t know what the future might hold, but I think that Davey, Berto, and I will be a part of that future together. I’m not going to worry about it either; these things have a way of working out. I love them both and that’s an absolute.
I love Gary and Johnny too, but I think we’ll be friends going in different directions down the line. Gary is pretty wrapped up in the Navy so I’ll be really surprised if he doesn’t go that way, at least for a while.
Oh, by the way, did I tell you about my car? It’s a 1957 Chevy convertible. Two tone, cream and copper colored. Pretty classy if I do say so myself. It has a V-eight that is tuned to perfection by Dino. I guess this V-eight thing is all the latest, though no one has explained to me why it’s any better than a straight-eight. I’m thinking we’re going to be looking good this summer in Southern California.
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