Postcards From the Ledge (and Other Extraordinary Folk): Some Men Never Go (Story 3) ~ Part A

Ken Painter By Ken Painter, 6th Jan 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>General Fiction

Join me in a stroll through an eclectic collection of short stories filled with gay and straight characters in the mid-Michigan communities of Lansing and East Lansing and surrounding areas as they laugh, love, and find their lives intertwined in inexplicable ways. (Some of the stories - not all - contain softcore male/male sex scenes, and some of the material contained has been previously published on Wikinut by this author and have been modified from its original form.)

Newfound Friends

Rollie and Abbot rolled their friend Mick Yeager into room 37West of the Blueberry Hill nursing facility in East Lansing several days after he’d received his new pacemaker and only two days after the previous occupant whose bed he was now filling had gone on to meet his maker. Rollie and Abbot had been extremely fortunate to even locate this bed, but Blueberry Hill was a private facility and therefore seldom had a long waiting list if any. Mr. Heidenkamp’s timely demise only aided their urgent need, and the hospital’s placement service was able to hook Mick up immediately.

How thankful the three of them had been that he’d been wearing his emergency S.O.S. button around his neck that day when his pacemaker failed, because Mick had enough presence of mind to hit it as he was fainting dead away. One of the operators at the S.O.S. company was immediately alerted as were the nearest paramedics who were immediately dispatched to the scene. Abbot was also alerted as well as Rollie, but it was Abbot who first saved the day. Ab happened to be home at that moment not having left yet for his shift as an RN at the very same hospital to which Mick would later be sent, and when alerted he would sprint across the street and up three flights of stairs letting himself into his elderly friend’s apartment with his own spare key reaching the downed man at just under three minutes after he’d hit the floor and beginning lifesaving CPR on him. Paramedics reached the scene about another three minutes after that to relieve Ab and get Mick into the ER where Rollie would meet them there later as Mick was about to be introduced to his new pacemaker. And this morning they were all meeting his new roommate.

Keith Richardson. They all had a good laugh at first. Really? Had two of the Stones moved into room 37W? Keith and Mick on a reunion tour together? After Rollie and Abbot settled Mick into his bed and began unpacking his belongings, the two older gentlemen began exchanging some of the basics about themselves and the boys got the feeling that these two might actually become friends. The fact that they were both retired high school teachers about the same age was a damn good place to start.

The younger men soon finished up with the unpacking and bid their good-byes so that they could get off to their respective jobs. Hugging Mick and shaking Keith’s hand they promised to return a couple of days later to check up on both of them.

“Nice boys,” Keith remarked after Rollie and Abbot had left their room. “Your sons?”

“Oh, no, no!” Mick chuckled in response. “Though I think of them that way, and they’ve sort of taken it upon themselves to be like my guardians. More like angels is what they are. No, they’re actually my neighbors from the apartment building across the street. We just sort of ran into each other one day a few years ago and became friends quite by accident. They’re a couple, you know.”

“Really?” Keith didn’t know why he had sounded so surprised at that. It’s not like they were the first gay couple he’d ever met as he quietly reflected back to Matt Dobson and Jim Etheridge. God he thought, what he wouldn’t give to see one or both of them right now! “Well, they’re a handsome couple. And they certainly seem to look out well for you.”

“That they do!” And then Mick launched into the story of Ab’s racing across the street to perform CPR on him to which Keith responded with his own tales of his life being saved also thanks to having the button and how his own sons had helped get him a placement there.

“So you don’t have any other family,” Keith asked Mick.

“No it’s just me after my mom passed away,” and Mick gave him a glossed-over version of the highlights of growing up as an only child in Grand Rapids minus all the drama of the brief status of having a step-dad like Alden Bradley. That would come later as he and Keith became better acquainted and eventually would open up to each other about everything. On that first day . . . way too early.

Keith also filled in Mick on the basics of his life with Alli and her loss to cancer and the basics of his childhood growing up in Lansing minus anything at all about Ricky Schneider. Again, too early. However, by the time they walked down to lunch together Keith already thought he was liking Mick much more than old man Heidenkamp. So very much more. And Mick too felt that he also was finding a new friend in Keith Richardson.

We've All Got Something

Abbot and Rollie had been checking in on Mick and Keith regularly about once each week for those first three months as the summer had given way to fall, and Keith’s sons Brad and Barry had even shown up a precious few times also though not together and more like once a month each, but the visits were reasonably pleasant. And during this time span the two roommates had grown closer together sharing little tidbits of humor and history from throughout their past lives which kept knitting them closer and closer together. Yet neither of them had felt comfortable enough yet to delve deep enough below their surface to reach down inside and open up about themselves to share something really meaningful. It would take the most recent visit of Abbot and Rollie to accidentally nudge that in the unanticipated direction.

The normal custom was that when visitors came into the room they would accompany the person visited down to the solarium for their visit unless for some reason that person was bedridden. This made for more privacy for all parties concerned. However, on their most recent visit to see Mick the boys discovered he’d just come down with that first cold of the season, and the staff physician had heavily recommended bed rest for him, so they stayed in the room. Keith was more than amenable to this, and Rollie and Abbot agreed that they would probably make their visit a little shorter as a result. Mick begged them not to anyway.

All this transpired about a week after Abbot’s most recent bout of the monthlies in other words his most recent postcard event. And so just before they concluded their visit that afternoon as he was sitting on the edge of Mick’s bed Ab pulled out from his inside jacket pocket his most recent effort printed neatly on the back of a Greenfield Village postcard, and Mick said, “Oh Ab, this is what I miss most about my apartment being across the street from you two. Thanks for showing me this so much.” And then the old rascal leaned a little closer to Abbot’s ear and whispered just a little too loudly, “I can still see your ass!” And the two of them giggled like thirteen-year-olds as Rollie smiled on in agreement.

After the boys had left, Keith’s curiosity had gotten the better of him, and being the more courageous of the two had found that he just had to ask. “Mick, if you don’t mind my being nosey, and if you do I’ll understand, but what was that postcard thing about?”

“Nah Keith, you’re not being nosey. The boys are shy about talking about it, but it’s no secret at all,” Mick chuckled. “The whole damn neighborhood over there is well aware of it, and I’m sure they’d have no problem if I shared their story with you now that we’re roomies and friends and all.” And so Mick told Keith what his entire old eclectic neighborhood in East Lansing was so privy to every month about these two very special young men.

Keith listened so intently to Ab’s Postcards from the Ledge tale that at times he wondered if this had been lifted from the Brothers Grimm or some version of Fractured Fairy Tales though he knew otherwise. He knew from his own experience that truth could be far stranger than fiction. And so when Mick was finished he shook his head and merely replied, “Wow!”

“Yeah,” Mick agreed. “Big wow! We’ve all got something don’t we? But Abbot’s just had a bit more something than the rest of us.”

“I would certainly say so,” Keith nodded, and then with a twinkle in his eye he added, “but did I hear you correctly earlier? I think you actually giggled when you said something about seeing his ass? Would that have been when he was crawling back and forth through that window then all those times?”

Mick giggled again. “Yeah I giggled. I suppose I shouldn’t be holding out on you now that we’re friends, and I really didn’t know how to bring it up or anything, but I guess you could say I’m gay too although I’ve never actually done anything about it. Pretty sad, huh? A 72 almost 73-year-old gay virgin. Jesus Christ!” And he just shook his head quietly and looked at the bed sheets.

“Hey, Mister Yeager. Mick.” Keith wanted to make sure that he got his roomie’s attention. “Look at me my friend.” Mick looked over at him. “Don’t be so hard on yourself! Like you yourself just said, we’ve all got something. And besides you’re a handsome man, so don’t sell yourself short. You may be a gay virgin, but you’re not dead yet.”

That brought a sarcastic laugh out of Mick. “Oh come on, Keith! I’ve got a pacemaker, and I’m living in a nursing home. This is not exactly a fucking gay mecca here now is it?”

“Well, we’ve all got something now don’t we, Mick?”

“Yes, and you keep saying that, Keith, so what the hell is it that you’re trying to tell me?” Mick was getting quite perturbed at whatever game Keith was leading him into.

“I’m trying to say that I’m just as gay as you are my friend, but it’s too long a damn story to tell before dinner. So let’s go eat, and afterward we’ve got a lot of talking and listening to each other to do I think.”

Mick’s mouth was hanging wide open on his bed sheets as Keith walked over to his bedside to help him up to walk down to the cafeteria for their dinner arm in arm. Suddenly Mick found his voice. “You think I’m handsome,” he asked somewhat incredulously.

Keith nodded back and grinned. “I sure as hell do.” And he patted the first adult male ass he’d ever dared to touch as they both giggled and continued shuffling off toward their dinner.

Opening Up

After returning from a dinner of processed turkey, mashed potatoes, peas, and a dessert of fruit compote which all really tasted a lot better than it sounded the two gentleman closed their door almost shut leaving it cracked a couple of inches. They actually weren’t allowed to close it completely until lights out which was any time after 8 p.m. Since it was now only approaching 6:00, they had a full two hours to discuss some heavy things which they’d only begun alluding to over dinner.

Mick began by sitting upright in his bed and dangling his feet over the side while propping his pillows on either side of him for comfort and pulling his blanket snugly over his lap for comfort and warmth. Keith copied all of this fairly closely, but not before he dug an oblong metal box out of the rear bottom of his clothes closet which Mick had never seen before, and then he placed it unopened on the bed beside him.

Mick looked over at the box on the bed next to Keith and remarked, “Okay. Now you’ve really got my attention. Why don’t you go first.”

“Thanks Mick. I really appreciate it. First of all, I want you to know that nobody else knows what the contents of this box are that I’m going show you although my sons are aware of the box’s existence, and there’s also one other person who had a hand in a file that happens to be in this box,” to which Keith gave a little chuckle before plowing on.

“But Mick,” and he looked almost ethereal in reflection as he looked up at his new friend in the other bed, “I’ve got quite a story to tell you before I even show you what’s in this box. Okay?”

Sensing how profound this story was going to be Mick reassured him, “I’m ready when you are, my friend.”

Keith had already filled in Mick on much of the neighborhood lore of where he’d grown up on Lansing’s south side and his dad’s job at the Buick plant prior to this eventful evening, and so he began with Ricky Schneider’s family moving in next door to his when they were both in Kindergarten and how they became the best of friends to the point of being like brothers. He held nothing back from his narrative recounting in detail their adventure’s in Axton’s Woods which eventually had become covered over with a shopping center and now also housed the Axton Medical Clinic among its many tenants. Through it all Keith conveyed the message to Mick that while they had never meant for it to happen he and Ricky had started experimenting with each other physically only to fall in love somewhere along the way. Neither of them had ever given a thought that it would all come to a crashing end with Ricky’s moving far away.

Keith continued on his story with how they’d both tried to keep in touch, but how that had failed eventually as time went on, and the times being what they were and with his feelings being so deep for Ricky he’d never had the nerve to ever touch another boy or man. Ever. He just eventually moved himself on over to the other side of the street although he never met any woman who could really fascinate him enough to commit to marriage until he met Alli. Keith then went on to confess to Mick how the last few years of their marriage had disintegrated sexually, and how after she’d passed what had happened to him physically and mentally. He laid it all out for his new friend about going into therapy and all of the good things he’d learned about himself finally arriving in his circuitous story to the part where he needed to stop with private eye Jim Etheridge and the file which still lay enclosed in the oblong box. And so Keith took one last long deep breath before he told Mick of his ill-fated search via Jim to locate Ricky and thus reveal the file and the contents of the box. So far he’d remained dry-eyed.

As Keith drew that long, deep breath, Mick suspected the profundity of what his roomie was about to get into, and so he interrupted, “Are you absolutely certain you want to go any further into this with me Keith? I mean, I really appreciate everything you’ve already shared with me, but if it’s too much for you . . .”

“No Mick,” Keith stopped him. “I really want to tell you if you want to hear it. My therapist knows most of the story, but he was paid to listen, and his lover the private eye knows the rest of it, but he was paid too. And they’re great guys, but I’d really like someone to know who isn’t on the payroll.”

“Then go right ahead, because I want to listen. But you’ve got to clarify one thing?”

“Okay. What’s that?”

Your therapist and the private eye were gay lovers? You didn’t tell me that part?” Mick gave a little chuckle holding back the belly laugh he really wanted to let loose with inside.

“Oh yeah.” Keith actually did laugh a little for a moment. And then upon further reflection, he smiled at Mick, “And they’re drop-dead gorgeous too, and I’m talking jack-off material here, so if we get through all of this horrible melodrama of mine I’ll tell you more tales of Matt and Jim.”

“That’s a deal,” Mick said with a broad grin.

“Now, back to the goddamn soap opera,” Keith said, and he began with how he hired Jim to locate the grown-up Ricky Schneider and what Jim had found a few days later. Picking up the metal box he opened it up and took out the file to begin showing the contents to Mick. To both of their surprise, Keith did not break down though a few tears did form in the corners of his eyes.

After they discussed Ricky’s passing and how Keith felt about that, Keith then shared childhood pictures he had of Ricky with Mick. Even Mick found moisture in his eyes at the sentiment in this gesture. But when Keith brought out the old white T-shirt and explained unevenly to his new friend that on their last afternoon together after they had shared their bodies for the last time these two 13-year-olds had exchanged their T-shirts as a sign of their perpetual remembrance. And then Keith held the shirt to his nose for only a moment closing his eyes his eyes lost in memory, but it was Mick who broke down, and he wept quietly at the sight of his friend’s sweet reminiscence with both of them getting swept up in their emotions. It was seeing Mick’s empathy for his ritual that brought feelings of joy to Keith Richardson’s heart, and he fell in love all over again at the tender age of 74.

He delicately placed Ricky’s shirt back in the oblong box and moved his aging but not yet dead body over to the opposite bed whereupon he moved one of the pillows which Mick had propped up next to himself out of the way, and Keith then placed one arm around the younger man and with his other free hand he dried the tears which had leaked down Mick’s now very surprised face. And then as he stared into Mick’s incredible blue eyes, Keith gave this man’s trembling lips his first-ever kiss long and sturdy and full of warmth and passion. Deserving. And that first cold of the season could be damned for all he cared.

(End of Part A of this story. Next up: Part B and the conclusion.)

Link to Part B of "Some Men Never Go (Story 3)" . . . Here


Gay Community, Gay Couples, Gay Experience, Gay Lesbian And Bisexual, Gay Love, Gay Men, Gay Rights, Gay Sex, Gays, Lgbt, Lgbt Community, Senior Care, Senior Citizens, Seniors, Seniors And Sex, Short Fiction, Short Stories

Meet the author

author avatar Ken Painter
Retired Chicago public school teacher. Singer, songwriter, musician, author, & opinionated old curmudgeon. Married to my husband & living in Colorado, USA. Also a father & grandfather.

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