Sexy Six Anniversary Short – Second Honeymoon by Matt Brooks

May 20, 2013

Second Honeymoon

by Matt Brooks

“I see in the L. A. obituaries that Mary Miles Minter died,” Rey remarked, reaching for his coffee.  “Stroke, apparently.”  He turned the page of the Sunday paper, oblivious to Dale’s quizzical expression.

“And I’m interested in this because why?” Dale finally asked, after Rey had turned another page.

Rey looked up.  “She was a big star in Hollywood,” he answered.  “I’m surprised you don’t recognize the name.  She made dozens of films.  She and Mary Pickford were just about equally famous.  Silent era.  She was still a big name when I was a boy.”

“Oh,” Dale said, his voice flat.

“She was acting in film at the same time as Lillian Gish,” Rey added.  “And we saw Gish get a Lifetime Achievement Award or something like that last spring, remember? On television?”

“One of those we’ve-never-given-you-an-Oscar awards Hollywood hands out every year,” Dale scoffed.

“Yes, well . . .”  Rey’s voice trailed off.

“Well, with her gone now, and Fred Waring just last week, I guess my life is over,” Dale said drily.  “I’ll just have to marry royalty or something to get a little excitement back.”  He reached for the business section.  “You’ve read this already, right?” he asked, twitching it out of the pile.

Rey glanced up.  “Uh, yes.  All yours.”  He regarded Dale quizzically for a moment, then went back to the newspaper.  “You’re moody this morning, sweetheart,” he said behind the page.  “Are you feeling okay?”

“Oh, yeah, I’m fine,” Dale said slowly.  “Just thinking about years passing.  I keep coming back to the fact that we’ve been together twenty years now.  It doesn’t seem anything like that long,” he continued.  “But here I am, almost forty, and I wasn’t even twenty when we met.”  He sighed.

“You have regrets?” Rey asked carefully.  “Lost youth, maybe?”

“Oh, heavens, no!” Dale laughed.  “How could I regret that? Twenty years with the most wonderful man . . . I’ve been so lucky.”  He leaned across the table and took Rey’s free hand.  “Do you remember Thomas and Lucas, who came to the hotel when we were first dating? They’d been together over forty years? And remember how Lucas said his mama taught him to thank God every day for the good things in his life? You know I do that – morning, noon, and night – thank my lucky stars that we met and I get to spend my life with you.”  He kissed Rey’s palm.  “No, corazón.  No regrets.  Never any regrets.”  He paused.  “Well, actually I do have some regrets.  Those gold corduroy bell bottoms, and the burnt orange and chocolate brown sweater I bought in ’73.”

Rey laughed.  “I never did understand how you got suckered into that fashion statement,” he said.

“Just about couldn’t find anything that wasn’t flared that year, if you recall.”

“And it made you look short and squat, with all that fabric flapping around your ankles and the collar covering half your shoulders and chest.”

“Fashion isn’t helping lately, either.  Put this oversize stuff on me and I look like I’ve been raiding grandpa’s closet,” he grumbled.  “At least I have a couple of suits that fit and look like they belong on my body.  I suppose I’ll have to hang onto them until styles change for the better.”

“Wardrobe thrift,” Rey said with a soft chuckle.

“Well, I’ve decided what I want to do with all the clothing money I’ve saved in the last couple of years,” Dale said as he set the paper down.  “It’s time to have a party.”

Rey glanced up, alarmed.  “Party? You don’t like parties,” he said.

Dale corrected him.  “I don’t like big parties.  They make my head hurt.  But a small party now and then isn’t a bad thing.  I’ve always enjoyed the pool parties the tíos give, after all, and they’re not usually big groups of guys.  Besides, why did we buy this house except because we wanted to entertain more?”

“So, what do you have in mind for this not-big party?”

“I thought Labor Day afternoon would be good.  It’s the twentieth anniversary of when I moved into Honeymoon Cottage with you.  Closest we’ll ever get to a wedding anniversary, probably.  I thought a lunch buffet, catered but not formal.  Probably no more than three dozen guests.  Family and people who’ve been important to us as friends over the years, not business connections.”

“You’ve been thinking about this.”

“Well, you know I like to plan things, not just jump in and start splashing around.”

Rey laughed.  “Yes, you do plan.”  He went back to the paper for a moment, then spoke from behind the page again.  “And when it’s over, you and I are going to steal away like honeymooners and go out of town for a couple of days.”

“What are you talking about? Tuesday’s a work day,” Dale said, shocked.

“Arrange with your crews to take a couple of days off,” Rey said mildly.  “You’re the boss.  You can do that.”

“What are we going to do, like honeymooners, then?” Dale asked.

“Just plan your party.  Leave the rest of it to me,” Rey said, turning the page.

~*~*~*~*~

Labor Day morning was foggy and gray.  Surveying the weather through the oversized patio doors, Dale was only disappointed for a moment.  The fog usually lifted by noon at this time of year; the afternoon should be fine for the party.  He finished his coffee and got out the duster and the carpet sweeper.  He’d learned not to do more than tidy things up on the day of a party:  inevitably, there would be more cleaning to do afterward – why do it twice? Besides, there was something soothing about using the carpet sweeper, quietly freshening the rugs after the ostrich feathers had taken the dust off the furniture.

Rey came out of the bedroom as Dale was finishing with the sweeper.  They ate breakfast quickly, and Dale cleared the kitchen for the caterers, swabbing down the counters and putting the small equipment into the pantry.

The catering crew arrived at 11:30 to begin setting up.  Dale had decided on a picnic theme with a light wine punch, the crew to wear tee shirts and jeans.  It looked wonderful when everything was in place, a mix of Mexican and Anglo foods arranged for easy eating, set out on red checkered tablecloths, and punctuated by several small bunches of common garden flowers – daisies, tickseed, cornflower, dog roses – in canning jars.

As they usually did for larger entertainments, they had asked Tío Germán and Tío Mark, nephew Patricio and his lover Joe to come a bit early.  They were all good at getting a party going, and it was a pleasure to see them in any case.  Doña Ysabel, Rey’s mother, would come a few minutes after 1:00, when the party officially began, and she was another who could brighten conversation and make a party come alive.

It was Doña Ysabel who noticed the ants.  She brought her concern to Dale, who promptly moved toward the buffet tables to see what the problem was.  He came back with the worry cleared from his forehead, chuckling.  “They’re part of the decoration,” he said, happy not to have an insect attack.  “I told them I wanted a picnic – and what’s a picnic without ants?”

Ysabel laughed.  “I should have known from the size of them,” she admitted.  “Very clever, though.”  She went back to the buffet for a cup of punch before greeting her brother and his lover.

The crowd ebbed and flowed through the afternoon.  Patricio’s parents arrived around 2:00 and his father, Raúl, managed to keep his ill humor to himself the entire time they were there.  Both Patricio and Dale heaved sighs of relief when Susanna and Raúl came to say thank you and goodbye after an hour of tension for Dale and wariness for Patricio.  Rey and Joe were considerably more relaxed, and simply laughed at their lovers as they watched Raúl leave through the side gate.  “No grumbling about grandchildren today, Tricho,” Dale said.  “You think the five he has might be enough now?”

“Damn, I hope so, Tío Dé,” Patricio replied.

“He can rag on your brothers if he wants more,” Joe said comfortably.  “I’m sure they’ll oblige him if he makes enough stink about it.”

Around four o’clock, Rey edged next to Dale and muttered in his ear, “You finished packing? The caterers should be starting to clear up soon.”

“My suitcase is in the car,” Dale said.  “All I have to do is write a check and lock the house.”

The last guest left at 4:45, and Dale immediately went to the den to get his checkbook.  Along with the check, he handed the caterer an envelope with a generous tip for the crew.  By 5:15, it was impossible to tell that there had been a party for forty guests in the garden, aside from the bent lawn grasses and scuffed gravel paths.

“So, where are you taking me?” Dale asked as they drove away.  “You told me to pack casual clothes but put in a sport coat and slacks.  You have a plan, obviously.  Spill it, baby.”

“Nope.  Surprise.  Trust me.”

Dale had to be content with that as they drove north; no amount of prodding and guessing elicited any more information from his lover.  He finally settled back in his seat and gave up on the game, setting his hand on Rey’s thigh as he had always done when they drove anywhere – a comforting habit now, for both of them.

~*~*~*~*~

When they stopped in Morro Bay after a couple of hours’ driving, to stretch their legs and have a smoke, Dale began to suspect what Rey’s plan might be, but he kept it to himself.  It was a beautiful evening; a walk along the waterfront and a sandwich from the boxed supper the caterer had provided were a pleasure he could enjoy without nagging, so he relaxed and let the trip continue to flow.

His suspicions were confirmed when they pulled into the parking area at La Barranca Motor Inn in Monterey.  “I knew it!” he crowed, turning to Rey.  “I guessed you were taking me here, where we had our first vacation together.  What a sweetheart you are!” He leaned over to give his grinning lover a quick kiss before clicking his seatbelt open and jumping out of the car.

Dale’s surprise was complete, however, when they were taken to Suite 210, the same room where they had stayed in 1964, now expanded in renovations, with a water view through the french doors to the balcony.  A bouquet of roses with real fragrance stood on the small dining table; smaller posies were placed throughout the two rooms, and Dale inhaled their perfume with delight.  Rey knew he despised the hothouse roses that had begun to appear in flower shops, flown in from all over the world, perpetually in season – beautiful but cut before they had a chance to develop any scent.

Rey moved the bouquet off the table and they ate their belated supper, Dale occasionally giggling with joy.  After they finished the meal, they unpacked, took a leisurely shower together, and fell into bed for an unhurried session of sweet lovemaking.  They fell asleep spooned together, listening to the ocean.

~*~*~*~*~

Room Service knocked at 8:00.  Rey let the waiter in, and they sat down to breakfast later than they ever did at home; in comparison, it felt almost like brunch.

“You’re going to spoil me for real life,” Dale joked, pouring second cups of coffee.  “I could certainly get used to this schedule.  It’s nearly nine o’clock and we’re still at the table.”

Rey laughed.  “It would last about a month before you got twitchy and began finding things to do early in the morning again.  Don’t kid yourself.  You get up and going even when you’re not wide awake.”

“I guess that’s true,” Dale admitted ruefully.  “Still, I can fantasize, can’t I?”

“Of course you can, sweetheart.  Now.  What do you feel like doing today? Walk along Cannery Row? Look at historic gardens? Prowl the art galleries?”

“Let’s look through the art galleries,” Dale said after a moment.  “Find out what the competition is up to.  You can take notes for Joe, when we get together with him and Tricho next weekend.”

They spent the morning strolling through galleries and marveling at the prices of some of the art.  Dale resolved to task Rey with increasing his own prices when they got back home.  If the paintings they saw in some of the galleries, ranging from indifferent hackwork to downright ugly, were getting that kind of money, talent like Rey’s should certainly be rewarded, he thought.  After lunch on the waterfront, they returned to the Inn for some snuggling and a siesta.

Dinner that evening was romantic, at a small French restaurant a few blocks from the Inn.  They walked there in the dusk, not quite holding hands, and Dale marveled at how life had changed for them in the twenty years they’d been together.  When they first met, it was dangerous even to look too friendly when people were around; now they could walk down the street without trying to look like they were just buddies.  After the meal, they went to a club the desk clerk had mentioned, El Fandango, and there again Dale marveled at the way things had changed – when they met, gay clubs had small, discreet signs and no windows open to the street; the sign for El Fandango, on the other hand, was bright neon and the façade was open windows from end to end.  The all-male clientele was a mix of types, from leathermen to clones to twinks to bears.  Several couples were dancing as they entered, and Rey pulled Dale onto the dance floor for a couple of songs before they looked for a table.

Dale mentioned his reaction when they returned to the Inn.  “Being in a different town like this really brought it out,” he said.  “I remember how discreet we had to be when we first met, and how careful we were in talking around other people.  I felt so daring the first time I kissed your cheek in Sal’s place, but tonight it almost felt like we could have bedded down in that booth and there wouldn’t have been more than a raised eyebrow.”

“Remember that word – almost,” Rey said, looking scandalized.  “Times have changed, I grant you, but not quite that much.”

“I think beating back the Briggs Initiative in, what was it?, ’77 or ’78 made a big difference in our lives,” Dale said.  “Sure, it was all about the teachers, but it spilled over onto all the rest of us.  Hah! Take that, enemies of equality!”

“Speaking of taking that,” Rey said as he peeled off the last of his clothes, “I’m going to take a quick shower and then I’m taking you to bed.”

“Ohhh, god,” Dale moaned appreciatively.  “You’re going to do unspeakable things to me, aren’t you.”

“Yes.  And you’re going to love them.”  Rey went into the bathroom and a moment later the sound of water came through the door.

~*~*~*~*~

Driving home on Friday, Dale felt more relaxed than he had in months.  “Thank you for whisking me away, love,” he said.  “You knew what I needed better than I did.  So romantic! A real second honeymoon.”

“Who do I love?” Rey asked rhetorically.  “My papi, that’s who.”

“And who do I love?” Dale countered.  “My papi, is who.  The sun and the moon and the stars, all wrapped up in one man, and I get to love him all my days.  I’m so damn lucky!”

~*~*~*~*~’

Did you enjoy Second Honeymoon? If so, look up Honeymoon Cottage, the Dale and Rey’s full story!

4 Responses to “Sexy Six Anniversary Short – Second Honeymoon by Matt Brooks”

  1. BG Thomas says:

    I really enjoyed this a lot. AND I haven’t read Honeymoon Cottage. I’m going to have to now!

  2. Kit Moss says:

    Lovely.. but the book is even better!!

  3. Excellent! I loved “Honeymoon Cottage” and I can’t wait for the sequel!

  4. Artur says:

    I read Honeymoon Cottage with great delight. Such a refreshing story about two men, how they met and fell in love. The characters have depth and realism. I could almost smell the surroundings they were in and taste the foods they ate. They’re the type of characters I’d love to meet and have as friends. The romance wasn’t sappy or overly [porno]graphic. It is a sweet love story. It is also a story about family and acceptance.

    This short story about their lives twenty years later is like coming home. Revisiting these characters and seeing how things had changed in the world and in their lives feels real. The love Rey and Dale have, still as strong as the day they met, is magical. It is especially meaningful and personally emotional to read about two men in love. Love is love. All else can change or fade or perish over time but true love endures. I know gay relationships like this really happen but it is so rarely written about. To find a writer who can tell our story with such sweet passion is a remarkable gift.

    I can’t wait for more stories about Rey and Dale and to read about their 40th anniversary.

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