The Burdens of Truth [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Etienne
eBook Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Romance
eBook Description: An Avondale Story Professor and secret government analyst Ian Sanderson's bad day gets worse when he arrives home one miserable November evening to find an apparently incriminating photograph in a FedEx envelope in his doorway, followed by increasingly threatening photographs over the next two or three weeks. It isn't just Ian being set up: his partner, Randy, a lieutenant colonel working on a top-secret Pentagon project, is also at risk. Someone obviously wants something, but what? And from whom? Soon, a mysterious caller demands that Randy disclose information about the project he's been working on. When he refuses, Ian's and Randy's sons, David and Paul, are kidnapped from an Amtrak passenger train. Resourceful and intelligent, the boys manage to escape--only to find themselves lost and alone in a remote wilderness. With time running out, can Ian and Randy track down their blackmailers? Or will the man known only as The Broker claim another set of victims?
eBook Publisher: Dreamspinner Press/Dreamspinner Press, Published: 2011, 2011
Fictionwise Release Date: October 2011
* * * *
4 Reader Ratings:
1600 12 November 2010
It was Friday, it was early November, it was rainy and cold, and I was thoroughly miserable as I walked across the Georgetown University campus from my tiny office in the history department to M Street, then through the heart of Georgetown to Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington Circle, and finally 23rd Street until I arrived at the Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro Station. I wished for the hundredth time that I'd elected to drive to work that morning, and a poem by Thomas Hood began running through my brain:
No sun--no moon
No morn--no noon!
No dawn--no dusk--no proper time of day-
.... No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease
No comfortable feel in any member--
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds!--
When I was in the station, safely underground and out of the weather, I inserted my fare card in the slot in the turnstile and, when it popped back out, made my way to the appropriate platform, and waited patiently for the next outbound Orange Line train, which at that time of the day was a very short wait. Once I was on my train, I settled down, and by the time it stopped at the Virginia Square-GMU station in suburban Arlington, my gloomy demeanor had somewhat brightened. That change in mood was short-lived, however, and went into an immediate downward spiral once I emerged from the station and contemplated the weather--it had gotten progressively worse during my subway ride.
As was typical for that time of day and that kind of weather, a number of taxis were queuing up outside the station, so I decided to splurge rather than walk a few blocks in the rain. The eager cab driver became considerably less so when I gave him my address, and he managed to make it clear that a trip of only a few blocks was hardly worth his time and trouble. I gave him a taste of what my students referred to as "the look"--and it proved to be as successful in intimidating him as it was with my students in the fifteen years I'd been teaching, and he ceased his muttering. When the taxi stopped in front of our house, I dashed up the walk, onto the porch, and out of the rain.
As I opened the storm door to unlock the front door, I sensed motion at my feet and looked down. What appeared to be a FedEx overnight envelope was lying at my feet--it had evidently been propped against the front door. I picked up the envelope, tucked it under my arm, inserted my key, and used it to enter the house.
Inside the house, the silence was deafening, except for the beeping of the alarm, which I quickly shut off. The boys had started their first year of college as roommates at The Citadel in September, and even after two months, it still felt odd to come home to a house that wasn't filled with the noise of two teenagers and their friends.
In the master bedroom, I quickly spread my damp suit on the bed to dry and pulled on a set of warm-ups. Grabbing my briefcase and the FedEx envelope, I headed downstairs to the basement, after a quick detour to the kitchen to pour myself a glass of wine.
The house occupied a lot that sloped quickly down from street level and ended at the edge of a rather deep ravine. This meant that the basement, as well as the two-car garage underneath the house, was at ground level at the rear of the house. I went into what was ostensibly a storage room and walked over to the built-in shelves along one wall, where I pressed a hidden button. A section of the shelves swung out on silent hinges, revealing an armored door protected by an electronic keypad. I unlocked the door, stepped onto the landing beyond, and pulled it shut behind me, knowing that when I did so, the section of shelves would automatically swing back into place.
At the bottom of a short flight of steps was our private study, which we called the safe room, because it was totally secure from prying eyes and ears. My partner and I needed that level of safety because he worked with high-level security matters at the Pentagon and often brought paperwork home with him. In addition, I had a clandestine secondary career as an analyst for one of the so-called "alphabet" agencies that dealt with security matters. No, it's neither the CIA, the FBI, nor any of the other agencies with which you might be familiar. The group for whom I work part-time is so secret that only a half-dozen people in DC are even aware of its existence.
I settled down at my desk, set my briefcase on the floor, and took a sip of wine. Then I finally examined the FedEx envelope. Curiously, it wasn't addressed to either Randy or me but merely contained the street address. I opened it cautiously, upended it, and a single eight-by-ten photograph slid out onto my desk. The glossy black-and-white print was a rather grainy enlargement showing two men standing in a stream, apparently facing each other. They were obviously enjoying the act of splashing water in each other's direction and were totally naked. They were also partially tumescent.
I sat for a long while, mesmerized by the photo, and I was so overwhelmed by the memories it invoked that I couldn't focus on anything else. Instead, I found myself carried back to that summer, which was forever etched in my brain under the heading "the summer before it happened."
Blue Ridge Mountains, VA
Randy and I had been best friends ever since chance had made us freshman roommates at The Citadel. We met our future wives during our junior year and had a double wedding immediately after we graduated. I went on to spend several years in graduate school, obtaining first a master's and then a pair of doctorates, one in Russian history and the other in Eastern European history, while Randy began a career with the military.
That particular summer, we took our wives on our annual camping trip in the Blue Ridge Mountains--for once, our sons had been left with their respective grandparents for a couple of weeks instead of accompanying us on the trip as they usually did. It was a fun time, and the four of us took advantage of the fact that our campsite was extremely isolated. I don't remember who was the first to suggest we go skinny-dipping, but we eventually did so several times.
That camping trip was remembered as "the summer before it happened," because by Christmas of that year my wife was dead--killed by a drunk driver--and Randy's wife had left him for another man. I spent what was left of that school year suppressing my own grief and dealing with a thirteen-year-old son who'd just lost the mother he loved. Randy had much the same problem, given that his wife had not only left their thirteen-year-old son behind but had made it quite clear that there was no room for a child in her new life.
* * * *
1700 12 November 2010
I snapped back to the present when I was hit with an unexpected rush of sadness at the memory of the months that had followed. That was easily one of the worst periods of my life, and I'd survived by dedicating myself to two things--my son and my work. I went to classes and taught, and I spent the rest of my time either with my son or pursuing the research for my next book. However, during the following summer, things took an unexpected turn.
* * * *
Blue Ridge Mountains, VA
As soon as school was out that year, we took the boys camping, which was something they loved to do. We pitched a pair of two-man tents in the same remote area where we'd all been so happy in the past. Randy and I even managed to goad the boys into skinny-dipping with us--they were nervous and uncertain at first but eventually got into the spirit of things and splashed around in the little natural pool with us nearly every day.
On the last night of the trip we were all a little sad, knowing that we had to leave the next morning and return to the real world. The boys retired to their tent a little early, and so did we. The weather had turned unseasonably warm, so we were lying naked on top of our sleeping bags in order to alleviate the effect the heat was having on us--we'd briefly discussed moving the sleeping bags outside the tent, but the ever-present mosquitoes had made doing that impossible. I drifted off to sleep very quickly but woke up some time later to find Randy clutching me, his face buried in my chest. He was sobbing quietly, and at first, I didn't know what to do or say.
Finally, I put my arms around him and said, "What's the matter? Still missing Mary Jane?"
"Are you kidding?"
"I can't tell you," he said.
"Of course you can," I said. "After all these years, there isn't anything you can't tell me, you ought to know that."
"I'm afraid you'll hate me."
"I doubt it."
"Okay, I'll tell you," he said, "but first, hold me for a minute or two."
We shifted positions until we were lying belly to belly, arms wrapped around each other. He began to move a bit in my arms; then he sighed and said, "Oh, God, I knew it would feel like this."
"Knew what would?"
"Holding you like this. Being held. It feels good, doesn't it?" he said.
"Now that you mention it," I said, "it does. A little weird, but good."
"I love you, Ian," Randy said.
"That's hardly news," I said. "I love you too."
"No, Ian," he said. "That's not quite what I meant. I love you in the way that most men love women."
"You're just hard up for affection."
"Please don't make fun of me," he said. "I'm serious. I love you. I think I've always loved you, but I simply never figured it out before."
Before I could speak, his lips found mine, and for some strange reason, I didn't resist. When we finally broke apart, gasping for air, he said, "Can't you feel it? I'm aroused, and I think you are too."
I felt his hand groping between our bodies, and he continued, "You feel it too, don't you?"
"Yeah, I guess I do--in more ways than one."
We spent the rest of that night on a voyage of discovery, and I was grateful that the noisy stream was loud enough to mask the sounds coming from our tent. In the early hours of the morning, when we were finally exhausted, I found my voice and said, "You know what, Randy?"
"What?" he said.
"I've always felt, deep down inside, that there was something missing. I didn't know what it was, though, I just knew, at some level, that it was missing."
"But not anymore, right?" he said.
"Yeah, not anymore. God, how could we have been so blind?"
"Ditto that," he said.
Shortly before dawn, we put our practical minds to work and came up with a plan for the future, a portion of which we divulged to the boys during the trip home. We stopped for lunch at a McDonald's on I-81 near Winchester, and when we were settled at our table eating our food, I looked at the boys and said, "May I have your attention for a minute?"
"Sure, Dad," Sean said.
"What's up, Uncle Ian?" Paul said.
"I guess it's no surprise to you guys that Randy and I have both been having a hard time adjusting to going from a two-income household to a one-income household this year," I said.
"No, Sir," they chorused.
"So," Randy said, "we've come up with a solution."
"What?" Paul said.
"You and I are going to move in with Ian and Sean," Randy said.
"Cool," Paul said.
"Does that mean that Paul and I will have to share a room?" Sean said.
"Yes, it does," I said. "Does that matter?"
"Nope," he said. "We're always sleeping over."
"Yeah," Paul said. "I can't even remember the last time that Sean and I slept alone in our own rooms."
"One more question," Sean said.
"What?" I said.
"Are we gonna turn the den back into a bedroom so Uncle Randy can have it?"
"There's no need for that," I said. "The king-size bed in the master bedroom will be more than adequate. It's been a few years, but Randy and I are used to sharing quarters."
"Are you gonna sell the house, Dad?" Paul asked his father.
"I don't think so," Randy said. "It'll bring in enough rent to pay the mortgage, insurance, and taxes, with a bit left over, so I'll keep it as an investment."
"There will be one added bonus," I said.
"What's that?" Sean said.
"As you know, your mother had a life-insurance policy," I said, "and I'm going to take some of the proceeds and have a pool built in the side yard."
"Is the yard big enough?" Sean said.
"Yes, it is," I said. "Remember, I own the vacant lot next door, so all we have to do is dig up the hedge and move it to the far side of that lot."
"When?" Paul said.
"As soon as your father and I can round up three or four bids," I said.
"Will it be ready before summer is over?" Sean said.
"I don't see why not," I said.
And so it began. Within a week, Randy and Paul were settled into their new quarters, and we'd signed a contract with a pool company. As it happened, I'd been working for the agency for about eighteen months at that point, and when I told my contact about the pool, he set a few things in motion. Because the lot sloped so rapidly downward, a great deal of excavation and leveling was necessary. Shortly after the excavation for the pool was finished, but before any forms had been constructed or cement poured, I made an excuse to put the project on hold for a while, and a tent was erected over the site, complete with canvas walls that touched the ground. During that time, workmen came in every day, and by the time the pool contractor was allowed to continue, the safe room under the basement was in place, and all traces of its construction were gone. The pool people never even noticed that their work had been disturbed.
* * * *
1700 12 November 2010
The ringing of my cell phone snapped me back to the present.
"Hello," I said.
"It's me," Randy said.
"Funny man," he said.
"Where are you?"
"Heading for the Metro station."
"I haven't been in the kitchen yet to start our supper."
"Don't," he said. "Can you meet me at Dupont Circle? I've got a hankering for Greek food."
"You don't want to stop by the house and change?"
"I'm kind of hungry and don't want to waste that much time," he said.
"Then I'll see you there."
I placed the photo on our flatbed scanner, generated a digital image of it, slipped the photo back into the FedEx envelope, and put the FedEx envelope into a slim briefcase. Carrying the briefcase with me, I carefully locked the safe-room door and went upstairs to the bedroom to change. Wearing slacks, a turtleneck shirt, and a leather jacket, I secured the house, got in my car, and headed for the Key Bridge. While I was on the bridge, I made an urgent cell-phone call.
Once I was across the bridge, I drove east on M Street, turned north on Wisconsin Avenue, and eventually turned east on the first cross street that would take me straight to Dupont Circle. It took me longer to find a place to park than it had taken me to get to the popular Dupont Circle area. Still, by the time Randy walked through the door of the restaurant, I was sitting in a booth sipping a glass of Greek wine.
"Mind if I join you?" he said when he walked up to the booth.
"Gee, I don't know. I'm sort of expecting someone, but I guess I can trust a man wearing the uniform of a light bird."
Full colonels in the US Army wear an insignia on their collars containing the image of an eagle. Lieutenant colonels do not wear this insignia and are often referred to, not always kindly, as "light bird colonels" or just "light birds."
He took a seat, I poured him a glass of wine, and we touched our glasses together before he took a sip. "By the way," I said, "Rupert will be joining us in a bit."
"Rupert?" he said. "Why?"
"Long story, and I don't want to tell it twice, okay?"
He must have caught the seriousness of my tone, because for once, he didn't argue with me and simply said, "Okay."
A waiter came to our table and took our orders.
"Did we hear from the kids today?" Randy said.
"Actually, I don't know."
"You don't know?"
"For perhaps the first time ever, I didn't check my e-mail the minute I got home."
"That's totally out of character for you," he said. "Why?"
"I was kind of distracted."
"Now that you mention it, you sounded kind of distracted on the phone. Want to tell me about it?"
"When Rupert gets here."
"Now you're worrying me," he said.
"Well, your worries are over," I said. "Rupert just walked through the door."
Rupert Sylvester, my contact/controller at the agency, reminded me very much of Leo G. Carroll portraying the Professor in the Hitchcock film North By Northwest, right down to his tweed jacket. He even sounded sort of like the character. To Randy's annoyance, Rupert slid into the booth beside him, facing me and, more importantly for Rupert, with his back to the door--which minimized the chances of him being seen through the window of the restaurant.
"Shall I order you a glass, Rupert?" I said.
"Thanks," he said.
The waiter appeared before I could summon him, and Rupert requested a glass but declined a menu, saying he couldn't stay that long. The waiter brought an empty glass, poured wine in it for Rupert, and left.
"Okay, Ian," Rupert said, "you asked for this meeting, and you said that it was important."
I opened the briefcase, retrieved the FedEx envelope, handed it to him, and said, "This was just inside the storm door of our house when I got home today."
He pulled the photo out of the envelope, and his eyebrows actually levitated a bit, which was most unusual for the normally unflappable Rupert. Randy saw what Rupert was holding in his hand and said, "Holy shit."
"Exactly," I said.
"Is this picture genuine?" Rupert said.
"Yes and no. Randy and I went camping with our wives that summer. It was the summer before my wife died and his wife deserted him. The four of us did a fair amount of skinny-dipping in the creek."
"Yeah," Randy said. "Somewhere, I've got a number of pictures just like that, only our wives are standing beside us."
"However did you manage that?" Rupert said. "Surely there wasn't anyone with you."
"I'm a bit of a shutterbug," Randy said, "and I had a camera on a very low tripod beside our tent. Our wives didn't even know it was taking pictures of our skinny-dipping."
"Based on the fact that you can just see our two tents in the background," I said, "whoever took this was in the woods across the stream."
"Somebody obviously wants something," Rupert said.
"Yeah," Randy said, "but what, and from whom?"
"Surely it has something to do with your top-secret work," I said. "Nobody knows about my part-time work for the agency--at that point I hadn't even told Catherine about it, not that I kept secrets from her, but because I hadn't gotten around to telling her. In fact, I was going to use my earnings to buy something nice for her and tell her then."
"We'll just have to wait until you're contacted by a party or parties unknown," Rupert said. "Meanwhile, may I have this?"
"Certainly, and Randy can get you a copy of one or two of the pictures he took."
"A negative with a date would be even better," Rupert said.
"I can do that," Randy said. "They're in a locked drawer in our safe room."
"Should we try to defuse things by talking to our superiors at work?" I said.
"Let's hold off on that for a bit," Rupert said. "On second thought, a preemptive strike may be just the ticket. Why don't you mention receiving the photo and make it clear that it's not only doctored, but you can prove it?"
"Yeah," I said. "Georgetown is run by Jesuits, and when dealing with Jesuits, preemptive strikes are definitely called for, and the same often holds true with the military."
"If somebody wants something from one of us that badly," Randy said, "should we take any precautions?"
"What kind of precautions?" I said.
"I was thinking of our boys," he said.
"They should be safe enough at The Citadel," I said.
"Yeah, but it wouldn't hurt to have a word with somebody down there."
"Rupert, what do you think?" I said.
"It would probably be a good idea," he said. "When would that photo have been taken?"
"In June, five years ago," I said.
"As you said, you'd only just started working with us at that time. Were you already involved in secret matters that long ago, Colonel?"
"Yes, Sir, I was, but I don't know how many people knew about it."
"Rupert," I said, "are our telephone and Internet connections at home still secure?"
"We check them daily, and they're clean at your end. What we can't guarantee, however, is safety at the other end of the line, unless, of course, you're calling us."
"When was the last time our house was swept for bugs by your people?" I said.
"A couple of Saturdays ago--you were there, remember?" Rupert said.
"Yeah," I said, "I guess I'd forgotten."
"Don't forget to use that little gadget I gave you," Rupert said.
"Thanks for reminding me," I said. "I'll give it a shot the minute we get home."
Rupert polished off his glass of wine and retrieved a cell phone from a breast pocket. He dialed a number, waited a second, and said, "I'll be at the back door in five minutes." Three minutes later, he stood and headed for the restaurant's kitchen.
"Your Rupert is a careful guy," Randy said a moment or two later.
"Yeah, in his line of work, he has to be just that."
We finished our meal in a somewhat somber state of silence, walked to the car, and went home. While the garage door was still closing, I went through the basement, down to the safe room, and retrieved the gadget Rupert had reminded me about. I carried it all through the house, carefully watching the readout on the little screen, and I paid special attention to the master bedroom and bathroom. Finally satisfied that the house was free of listening devices, I took the little device back downstairs and put it away.
By the time I got back upstairs, Randy was in the shower, so naturally I joined him. Later, as we stood in front of the vanity toweling ourselves dry, I carefully inspected our images in the mirror and said, "We're not in bad shape for a couple of middle-aged men."
"Speak for yourself," he said. "I'm still young, and I refuse to admit to middle age."
"Oops, did I strike a nerve?"
"Not really," he said, "but I resent being referred to as middle-aged. Look at us--we're both somewhat over six feet tall and we tip the scales at under one-ninety. We may no longer be the scrawny kids we once were, but we're in damn fine shape."
"Yeah, for a couple of forty-year-olds, hence middle-aged."
"I'll get you for that," he said.
Later, as I turned the lights out in our bedroom, I said, "Shit, I never got around to checking the e-mail."
"Don't worry about it," he said, reaching for me. "This is more important."
"Yeah, I guess you're right."
"You guess!" he said. "You guess this is more important?"
"Shut up, and prove it."
* * * *
0700 13 November 2010
Saturday morning, we carried coffee and bagels down to the safe room and settled down at our desks. We checked our e-mail accounts and found nothing but junk mail. After that, we called The Citadel and gave their security guy a heads-up concerning our potential problem. Then, while I worked on my latest piece of analysis for the agency, Randy rummaged through his files for the negatives from that summer. "Here they are," he said, holding a packet of negatives up to the light.
"Geez, Randy, that's a fat envelope. How many pictures did you take that day?"
"I had the camera set to shoot a half frame every thirty seconds," he said, "which allowed me to accumulate seventy-two photographs in a little over half an hour. I also had a wide angle lens on the camera, and it was focused on that little natural pool because I knew that was where we would be."
"I'm gonna use that nifty little device you gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago," he said, "and transfer these negatives to digital images. Then it's time for Photoshop."
"Have at it," I said, and I went back to work.
I took a break around midmorning, but Randy was still hard at it. "I'm going up to the kitchen," I said. "Bring you anything?"
"Something cold, wet, and non-alcoholic," he said.
When I returned to the safe room carrying two cans of Sprite, he was waiting for me with a triumphant look in his eyes. "What's up?"
"I have the answer to at least one question," he said.
"Which question is that?"
"The most important one, doofus--who took that photo?"
"Yeah, I guess that would be the most important one. So?"
"Look at this display," he said.
He pointed to the large flat-screen monitor in front of him and said, "Starting with frame number ten, you can see someone moving through the woods on the other side of the stream. See?" He pointed to a blown-up image and traced it from frame to frame.
"Yeah, I can see that. But I can't see a face."
"Patience, patience," he said. He replaced the displayed images with a few more. "Look at the second picture. He's lying flat on the ground, about to aim a camera at us. You can see his face as plain as day."
"Shit. You're right. Do you know him?"
"You're damn right I do," he said. "That's the Basset Hound."
"I call him that because his last name is Basset and he has large and somewhat floppy ears," he said.
"And his actual name is?"
"Larry Basset," he said. "He was an alleged friend of Mary Jane's, and he's the guy with whom she ran off. I'll bet he'd been fucking her all along and followed us to the campground."
"Why is that name familiar?"
"Because I named him correspondent in the divorce," he said, "and you saw the paperwork."
"Okay, Sherlock. Now that we know who he is, what does it mean?"
"Damned if I know," he said.
"Could it mean that someone has been looking into our backgrounds for a weak link?"
"Possibly," he said. "The divorce file is a matter of public record--anybody could go to the courthouse and read it."
"We need to meet with Rupert again. Today or tomorrow, if possible."
"Yeah," he said.
"You did good, my boy. Follow me up to the bedroom, and I'll give you an appropriate reward."
"Why not here?" he said.
"The floor's too hard, and we're too old for that."
"There you go with that old shit again. Speak for yourself."
We spent the rest of the day doing our usual Saturday stuff--laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping--all the while waiting in vain for the other shoe to drop. Rupert was tied up Saturday, but when we arrived at St. Paul's Parish on K Street Sunday morning, he was sitting in a pew at the rear of the church. We took seats on either side of him and had a whispered conversation, after which he slipped out through a side door of the church with a thumb drive full of images and a few of the original negatives in his pocket.
Our conversation had been somber, but my mood brightened when the service began--both the high church service and the music at St. Paul's always put me in a good mood, and this Sunday was no exception.
As we walked toward the car, Randy said, "Lunch?"
"Where?" he said.
"Are you in the mood for plain or fancy?"
"How about the Hole in the Wall?" he said.
"The Hole in the Wall" was our name for a little restaurant on M Street. Actually, it wasn't really that little. We'd nicknamed it the Hole in the Wall because it was very narrow in front. It did, however, run back some distance before expanding into a large room that wrapped around an adjacent shop. As we sat, sipping a glass of wine and waiting for our orders to arrive, I found myself reflecting on the past.
* * * *
Blue Ridge Mountains, VA
At the end of our first full school year as a family of four, Randy and I took the boys camping again. That first year of all of us being together had, not unsurprisingly, produced no problems whatsoever. Randy and I had been roommates through four years of school, and we slipped right back into our old pattern of togetherness almost as though we'd never been apart. The fact that there was now a sexual element to the relationship was merely frosting on the cake.
As for Sean and Paul, they'd practically been raised together, even though we hadn't always lived in the same city. And during the five years that Randy had worked at the Pentagon, the boys had become virtually inseparable. As far as we could tell, the two of them had no difficulty getting used to sharing a room on a permanent basis. Paul had totally written his mother off as a lost cause, given that she'd made it clear when she left that her new life contained no place in it for a son, and he'd adjusted to that fact.
During that two-week period, we had a great time. We went for long hikes several times and even spent half a day following the Appalachian Trail, which passed through the area near our campsite. At an age when many teenage boys were beginning to drift apart from their parents as a sort of rite of passage, Sean and Paul were becoming closer than ever to us.
That was also the summer we found the cabin. At the end of our first week, we went back to the car and drove to the nearest motel in order to have access to hot water. After a week of roughing it, a hot shower was a delicious treat, and Randy and I were able to enjoy the luxury of a decent shave.
Over lunch in a local cafe, Sean said, "Dad, camping is fun, but we ought to look for a cabin up here somewhere."
"A cabin?" I said.
"Sure, why not? A nice little A-frame cabin by a stream. We've seen a bunch of them up here, and some of them had For Sale signs on them."
"That's a splendid idea," Randy said.
"Yeah," I said, "let's do it."
So we spent our second week in the mountains cabin hunting, and by the time we headed for the interstate and home, Randy and I had made an offer and signed a contract to purchase a modified A-frame cabin nestled in a stand of trees beside a very noisy stream. We closed on the cabin a few weeks later and juggled our schedules so that we could spend an occasional three-day weekend there, acquiring furniture and generally getting it fixed up to suit us. It became our place to go every summer the minute school was out, and even when Randy had to return to DC, the boys and I would stay at the cabin, sometimes for most of the summer.