The Gulf Between Us by Rick Beck
   The Gulf Between Us
Part One of The Gulf Series
by Rick Beck
Chapter Twenty-Four
"Holiday Cheer"

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The Gulf Between Us by Rick Beck

Young Adult
Sexual Situations

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Ivan and I slept much of the day after Thanksgiving. After our morning cereal, at about three o'clock that afternoon, I came clean.

"Someone saw us," I said, not knowing how else to say it.

"Lucky them," Ivan said, shoveling up Cocoa Puffs with all the enthusiasm of a cuckoo bird, 'Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.'

"I'm not kidding, Ivan. Someone was in my bedroom before we got up this morning," I said again, not liking the way it sounded.

"You should try these. They're good," he said, pouring more brown orbs into his cereal bowl.

"Somehow chocolate for breakfast seems sinful," I said.

"What do we do? If someone saw us, why hasn't the roof fallen on us yet? Your father talks to my father every day," Ivan said, scooping up cereal between syllables.

"I need to go face the music. If I stay away, it'll only make it worse. I don't want someone coming up here after me," I said, worrying enough for both of us.

"We'll go together. The day after Thanksgiving should be a taste treat at the Olson table. Have I told you that you worry a lot. They wouldn't come for you, they'd simply radio you to come home."

"Won't be any chocolate," I said, watching him dig into a fresh bowl of Cocoa Puffs.

"I didn't waste time eating when I got home last night. After dinner yesterday afternoon, I didn't eat until right now, dude. Boris didn't get me home until midnight, and I went straight to your house. I'm hungry. So sue me. These are good. You should try them."

"Glorified Kix. I used to eat them in Tulsa," I said.

Leaning across the table, I kissed his chocolate lips.

"I've unleashed a monster," he said, leaning to kiss me, once I sat back down. "If you won't come to the Cocoa Puffs, I'll bring them to you."

For the first time since he began eating cereal, he forgot about the Cocoa Puffs. We decided we needed another nap. Dinner wasn't until seven and Ivan thought the four bowls of cereal would hold him. He didn't want to spoil his appetite for dinner.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

We agreed we'd go to dinner together. I expected the worst. Ivan had no expectations beyond one of Mama's meals. He wasn't convinced by my account of the event.

Mostly I was going on a sound I may or may not have dreamed. I had to admit I was half asleep when I heard the click and I was going on a feeling that someone was in the room with us. I didn't see anyone and the house was empty when I searched it.

In spite of Ivan's doubts, I heard the click and felt the presence in the room with us. Someone had seen us.

I lead the way into the kitchen this time. Mama was at the stove. She turned, smiled, stood on her tiptoes to kiss me and then she kissed Ivan on the cheek.

"How are my fishermen today?" Mama asked cheerfully. "We missed you yesterday, Ivan."

"Better since I got here," Ivan said, sniffing the pan with the gravy. "Oh, Mrs. Olson, you don't know how good that smells."

"Did you have a nice dinner yesterday?" Mama asked.

"Yes, we ate at my mother's girlfriend's. We had oyster dressing. Sounds gross but I packed away what I was served and went back for more. It was delicious."

"Oysters in dressing?" Mama said thoughtfully. "I'll have to try that. We all like oysters. Not a plentiful food in Oklahoma."

"I can ask my mother to get the recipe for you," Ivan offered.

"Yes, do that. We may have turkey at Christmas," Mama said.

"If that's an invitation, I accept," Ivan said smiling at Mama.

"You don't need an invitation. Any friend of Clay's is a friend of mine," Mama said happily. "Didn't Clay say you're staying with us Christmas Eve?"

"That's the plan, Mama," I said. "He's not had a Christmas morning with a big family before."

I lead the way into the dining room to test the waters there.

"Told you," Ivan said as we left the kitchen behind.

"Hi Pop. How's the beach?" I asked.

"Crowded. John-Henry and Brian are still out there. They sent me home so I can be on the beaches early tomorrow. They'll come out around noon and stay until dark. I've never seen such crowds."

"Did you leave one of them here this morning?" I asked.

"No, the split shift was John-Henry's idea at lunch. If we've got to be there until dark, he thought I should go out early before the people start coming. They'll sleep in and come later and stay late. They've been out there since before eight this morning. We left here before seven.

"Told you," Ivan said to me. "Worrywart."

"Hey, Lucy," I said, as she entered from the foyer. "You look lovely tonight."

"Hi, Clay. Didn't expect you back today," she said, passing me by to hug Ivan. "Hi, Ivan. I missed you yesterday."

Ivan hugged her and touched her brilliantly red hair.

"Sorry, Luce, my mother insisted I be in Tampa. Believe me, I'd rather have been here with you guys. Clay's right. You're looking more lovely all the time. I love your hair. You're quite the young lady."

Ivan kissed her on the cheek and Lucy blushed big time.

"We playing cards after dinner, Clay?" she asked.

She threw her arms around my neck and gave me a big hug, At first I sensed she was being cool toward me, but she always went to Ivan first, when he was with me. He did have that effect on people.

"If Ivan will sit still for it, I'm in for a few hands of Canasta?"

"You're on. I haven't beaten you at Canasta in ages," she said. "you're hardly ever around, you know. We used to play all the time."

"I'm a working man," I said. "I don't have that much time, Lucy."

"I'm your sister. You make time for me," she said, scolding me.

"Yes, I should," I agreed, knowing my excuse didn't hold water.

My sister was growing up and she was going to be a heart breaker. I spent all my time with Ivan and it wasn't fair to her.

As nice as it was not to be confronted about sleeping with my boyfriend, it was unsatisfying. Someone at the conservancy house knew the truth about Ivan and me. Could it have been Teddy? John-Henry took his car to work. Did he come home? Brian would have broadcast it to the free world, and the commies if he knew how.

Ivan said I dreamed it and I worried too much. I knew someone knew about us, even if I did worry too much.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

My visits home for dinner increased between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I thought about how each person greeted me. Any change would indicate who opened my bedroom door that morning, but I sensed no change in anyone. Did I dream it?

My bet was still on Pop. He's the one who had a habit of opening the door, but the conservancy truck had a distinctive sound. If he'd been there and left, I'd have heard the truck drive away. The more I looked, the less I knew. Pop would have told Mama and Mama wasn't one to allow heathenism in her house.

Mama didn't know.

Mama still greeted me as her fisherman home from the sea. Pop still bragged about what Ivan and I did for Mr. Aleksa the previous summer. John-Henry, when he came home for dinner, did more eating than talking. Teddy never changed. Brian was oblivious to everything but the food. Lucy still wanted me to stay for cards or a board game and she told me about what she was doing at school. I didn't give her the time she deserved, but I stayed more often. Ivan didn't mind.

Coleen was rarely there and she'd never come to my room. Escaping the house full of men was Coleen's greatest joy. When she did appear, it was as brief, but none of us noticed.

It was half way between Thanksgiving and Christmas, just before 1967 began. I'd come in the kitchen door, doing my impression of Sherlock Holmes. I had Ivan in tow. He ignored my worrying.

I asked on the way back to his house, "Who do you think it was?"

"It was old man Broadmore come to haunt your ass," Ivan said in an unfriendly answer. "Get over it, Clay. If no one has said anything, they aren't going to. It may as well be Broadmore or maybe the door wasn't completely latched, and a breeze closed it."

I knew what I knew. I couldn't let it go. Someone knew and I wasn't going to rest easy until I knew who.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

One night over pork chops, dressing, minus the oysters, green beans, and squash, Pop took center stage to tell a story that grabbed my interest immediately.

"You remember me going to the island Sunday, Mother?" Pop asked, breaking the silence right before dessert time.

It became obvious why Pop waited to say his piece. This wasn't an easy topic to bring up around Mama. Pop knew to tread lightly.

"I do. I don't approve of them calling you to work on the Sabbath," Mama said curtly.

"There was a beached dolphin. I went out to see what could be done about the poor creature. I am in charge of rescue and disposal. I can't very well say, 'my wife doesn't approve of me working Sunday.' The conservancy pays my salary. It puts this roof over our heads, Mother."

"What happened to the dolphin?" I asked, worrying about it, and seeing a way to bail out Pop.

"It beached itself on the beach John-Henry mentioned to get Brian's goat last year. Because of the heat, people are there from early in the morning and the dolphin needed to be removed."

Brian looked up from his plate as Pop talked. Mama's attention sharpened at mention of the nude beach. I'd forgotten there was a nude beach, having one of my own.

"Funniest thing. The people who swim without benefit of swim wear had sense enough to cover the dolphin with towels. Several women went back and forth from the water with containers of water. They were pouring the water on the towels. I was told that this kept the creature from burning up in the sun," Pop said.

"While the women kept the dolphin's skin moist, the men were digging a trench from the dolphin to the gulf. There were four fellows, who'd figured out a means to rescue it. I'd never have thought of it," Pop said.

Once the trench was dug, the four men moved the dolphin into the trench. Several inches of water had seeped into it by then. The dolphin didn't resist being moved."

"It may have been in shock," Teddy said.

"At this point the man directing the rescue opened the trench to the gulf. The water flooded in around the dolphin. I thought it was rather clever engineering. Until then I wasn't sure the thing was alive, but its tail began moving and the dolphin seemed to realize that these men were trying to assist it and it didn't struggle.

"After using the trench to float the dolphin back into the gulf, the men walked it into deeper water, taking the towels off as the water got deeper. Once the water was around their shoulders, they stopped, holding the dolphin just high enough for it to breathe.

"The dolphin remained relatively still for a few minutes. Even sitting in the truck a few hundred feet away, I could see the thing reviving. It didn't seem overly stressed. It simply tested its ability to swim, moving twenty feet away from where the men stood."

"Far out," Teddy said, in an unusual display of emotion for him.

I thought of the marlin and how good it felt when it revived, after we'd put it back into the gulf. I felt good about Pop's story, but he hadn't gotten to the purpose of the tale yet.

"As I said, it seemed aware it was getting help to get back where it belonged. Once it tested its ability to swim, it turned to circle where the four men stood watching it. It came within a couple of feet of them. Once it made one circle around the men, it swam away."

"These were the naked people saving that fish?" Brian asked, putting it all into perspective in case someone was asleep.

"Those naked people knew what to do to save that dolphin. I'd have shaken my head and made arrangements to collect the carcass. Luckily I didn't need to be involved. I got to watch smarter people than me save the creature. Now I know what to do in that situation."

"They did a good thing," I said, liking the sounds of it.

"Dolphins are smart," Teddy said. "They have bigger brains than humans. Here's living proof."

Teddy patted Brian's back, confusing him.

"They're fish," Brian said without catching on. "What does a fish need a brain for? They swim and they eat. This one didn't swim very well by the sound of it."

"Yes, and that's one more thing than you do, Brian. You only eat," Teddy said, filling in for John-Henry and criticizing Brian.

"They're mammals," I corrected, having looked into it.

"What are?" Brian asked.

"A dolphin belongs to the mammal family," I explained.

"Where does that family live?" Brian asked.

"Get a grip, Brian," Teddy said unkindly.

"As I was saying," Pop said. "That naked beach," he hesitated to look at Mama. "Is where the dolphin beached itself. I didn't get any closer than the parking lot, because I didn't need to, but a crowd gathered. When I saw the man with the big camera, I got out of the truck, thinking this wasn't a good idea on that beach."

"He took pictures?" Brian asked.

"I had on my uniform shirt. He knew who I was and why I was approaching him."

"I'm AP. I heard about this on my CB. Makes a nice human interest story. They won't use any picture they can't make presentable for the readers of the Fort Myers paper where I work."

"I'm not sure you aren't violating privacy taking those pictures," I said, not liking the idea. "He gave me a card and said I could lodge a protest at the Fort Myers' paper. He took pictures of the rescue from the time they moved the dolphin into the trench."

"Why not?" Brian asked. "I'd like to see them."

"Brian, keep your impure thoughts to yourself," Mama said.

"I radioed the conservancy, but no one answered. I wasn't going to physically restrain the guy. That isn't my job. Anyway, he took pictures. He said it was a human interest story. Twenty cars had come since I got there and there were dozens of people watching."

"More of a fish interest story," Brian said, unable to help himself.

"They're heathens, John. Being photographed might make them think twice about strutting around naked, and let me remind you, divorce is the remedy for men who wander."

"Mother, I have a point in mind if you'll allow me to get to it. It may give you second thoughts about photographing the people on that beach."

"Never! They should be photographed. Serves those heathens right."

"Mother, I'd rather poke my eyes out than tell you what I'm about to tell you, but it can't be avoided. You may want to change your mind about bringing the wrath of God down on folks you don't approve of. Let me finish and you'll understand."

"Not likely, John. The wrath of God is too good for the likes of them."

"Knowing how you feel, I'd never have brought it up if not for John-Henry. My love for you is without exception. When would I have time, or the energy, to stray, my love? No, I have no interest in that beach or anyone on it, beyond the event I just described."

"John-Henry?" Brian said, being the one to pick up on his name.

"I'm listening, John Henry," Mama said in her most in command voice. "I must say, I thought talk about that particular beach had been concluded at this table. Now you may finish."

"John-Henry?" Brian repeated.

"I wasn't going to say anything, but the photographer being there changed my mind. Whatever you want to call it, the man directing that rescue was your eldest son, John-Henry Olson. I was as shocked as you are. I saw that Sarah-Lee girl he's dating. Needless to say I saw more than I wanted to see of Sarah-Lee."

"John-Henry?" Mama stuttered uncertain. "Our John-Henry on that beach?"

"I knew he had something going on that beach," Brian said. "He won't let me get near it. He's a dog."

"Go John-Henry," Teddy said. "He's my brother. Totally cool. He saved that dolphin, Pop?"

"One and the same?" Pop said.

"Since your son was directing the rescue, he is at the center in most of the pictures. When I say he, I mean all of him. It's why I was so alarmed by that photographer. I am not looking forward to seeing pictures of my naked son in the Fort Myers paper."

"We're all naked under out clothes," Lucy defended.

"Yes, and most of us have sense enough to keep our clothes on," Mama said.

"Because it was my son, one picture was too many for me, but the man had taken a roll of film by the time I got to him. He wasn't going to turn them over and going to jail over it didn't seem wise. One scandal in the family at a time is plenty," Pop said.

"Our John-Henry? It may have been someone who looked like him. You said you stayed in the parking lot," Mama calculated.

"Mother, I know John-Henry when I see him. It was our son. I didn't want you to find out about this at work and not be prepared."

"Oh my God!" Mama said. "Work! I never thought of how this will go over at work. Oh John-Henry, how could you? I'll be ruined."

This realization took the wind out of Mama's sails. I think it was here that all judgment and intervention by God was called off.

"They're bound to mention the nature of the beach, even if they block out the strategic areas of his anatomy. It's the kind of thing they can't resist. I thought it best you hear it from me before one of the girls at work starts showing those picture around."

"Showing the pictures," Mama gasped again. "Oh my God."

"As I recall, you invited several girls from work to the annual conservancy picnic last summer. I recall John-Henry made quite an impression on some of them. You need to brace yourself."

The beach where it happened aside, I was rather proud of my brother. Living next to the gulf had made us all more aware of the sea and the creatures living in it. I'd remember to thank John-Henry for saving the dolphin. I'd wait until after the furor over the pictures died down.

"With or without clothes, your son did a fine thing, Mama," Teddy said. "The dolphin would have died if he hadn't saved it. It's the important part of the story. It's what will be said under the pictures."

"I'm proud of him," I said, and Ivan smiled at me, having no doubt that I was.

"Me too," Pop said. "If it took him being on that beach to save that handsome creature, I'm proud he was there to do it. Wearing a bathing suit would have been good, but that's not how it was."

"You haven't said anything to him about it?" Mama asked.

"Telling you is the only time I plan to mention it," Pop said. "I waited until dinner so you'd let me get it all out."

Mama considered this and didn't invoke the wrath of God being visited upon anyone. It was a good sign, but she wasn't happy about there being pictures.

"Everyone at the table who swims naked, raise your hand," Teddy said, having his hand raised before he finished.

I raised mine. Ivan had his up. Brian hesitated before raising his hand. Mama was too busy processing John-Henry's escapade.

"It's Florida, Mama," Teddy said. "When in Rome.... Most of the people reading that paper swim naked too."

Swimming naked in front of Ivan's house was tame compared to John-Henry cavorting on the nude beach in mixed company. If the heat was ever on over our propensity to be without benefit of swim wear, it was just turned off forever.

"It's Florida, Mother," Pop said. "He's doing what the locals do. What I mean is, if they're out there naked, well, we might be preparing for something more permanent, meaning with Sarah-Lee."

"I won't have my children running around naked," Mama said. "It's not natural."

"I swim naked, Mama," I said, dipping my toe into the heathen waters in support of my brother.

"You're a boy. It's different," Mama declared, letting me off the heathen hook. "John-Henry's a grown man. He should know better. A photograph of my son with naked women. They'll love this at work. They were smitten with John-Henry at the picnic. I was so proud of him. He was a perfect gentlemen. Now this."

"After work there are three of us who go skinny dipping if it isn't baking hot out," Teddy said, determined to get his point across.

"Theodore George Olson, you keep your clothes on at all times from here forward," Mama ordered as only Mama could. "I don't want to see pictures of you in the papers."

"Going to make showering a mite difficult, Mama," Teddy warned.

"Mother, it's 1966. You've got to keep up with the times. Our boys are almost men and the time when you could boss them around, and get your way on a thing like this, has passed. I think we're living in new times as well as in a new place. We can't hold onto the way it was in Tulsa. Times are changing."

"Right-on," Ivan said.

"When I mentioned that beach at the conservancy headquarters, they laughed. Half of them remembered swimming there. How do you tell lawyers and judges that they're heathens, Mother?" Pop asked, shaking his head. "No thank you. I smiled and hoped the subject never comes up again.

"I had to file a report on how the complaint was resolved. Everyone was waiting for me to finish so they could read it. It's not my cup of tea but I'm not risking my job trying to tell other folks how they should act. No siree. I need this job."

Mama had nothing else to say on the subject. She was apprehensive about going to work for the next couple of weeks.

On the way home Ivan had a question for me.

"What did you name it?" He asked.

"The dolphin John-Henry rescued. You name everything," he joked.

"I need to see it to name it," I said, wondering what its name would be.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Christmas came far faster than usual. Time seemed to fly by in 1966. We were bumping up against 1967 and I'd spent ten hours in my shop class creating Ivan's Christmas present. I got an A on design and creativity, but the only grade that counted was how Ivan's eyes lit up when he first opened the gift.

I broke into the bank on top of the fridge to buy presents for everyone. Mostly I wanted something special for Lucy and a parting gift for my brothers who were likely to be going out on their own soon, except for Brian. I wasn't sure he'd ever grow up.

Since coming to Florida Christmas at the Olson house was modest by design. Spending money on gifts was discouraged by our parents. This was the first Christmas that I felt comfortable to buy a present for each member of my family.

I risked my hand by taking money out of what Mama called my college fund, but I worked hard in 1966 and I made good money. I planned to spend some of it on the people I cared about. I didn't think I'd be home much longer either. I was barely home now.

After Thanksgiving, the plan was for Ivan to stay at my house Christmas Eve. I let it be known that he was sleeping in my room, where I knew he wouldn't be bothered.

No one even blinked over this news. At times like this I expected to figure out who opened the door to my bedroom the first time Ivan slept with me. Checking each face, there was no reaction whatsoever.

"Told you, worrywart," Ivan said.

There was only the one bed in my room, which meant we were sleeping together. Things I thought might cause trouble rarely did. No one gave a second thought to Ivan sleeping with me, except me. I couldn't stop thinking about it, but I was in love with him.

Mama and Pop were both delighted to have Ivan celebrating Christmas with us. I'm not sure it wasn't Pop's idea. Mr. Aleksa was bringing Ivan's gifts over to put under our tree. Ivan would wake up to an Olson family Christmas, which could be pretty amazing.

Mr. Aleksa was spending time at our house on Christmas Eve and he'd agreed to come to dinner Christmas day.

Mama loved having Ivan over and treating him to something he didn't usually experience was fine with her. She planned the kinds of things that made a Christmas at our house special.

Pop saw trees in the conservancy house from when Mr. Broadmore owned it. One almost touched the bottom of the chandelier. Pop's tree in 1966 wasn't quite that tall, but it came close. It filled the foyer next to the staircase, under that ornate light.

The tree was decked out with every imaginable decoration. We were all encouraged to add our own touch to the great tree.

I'd never seen a more beautiful Christmas tree.

We made decorations. There were antique balls and ornaments we found in the attic. Mr. Aleksa brought a box of balls that came from Lithuania. We strung popcorn around and around the tree. The tinsel gave it a silver glow with the chandelier off. About a million lights under the decorations made the tree dazzle.

The tree was fabulous. Everyone who came in the front door stopped to take a good look. The entire board of directors at the conservancy came to see Pop's tree, after he showed pictures of it. A glass of Mama's eggnog came with their visit and everyone went away smiling.

The conservancy house belonged to the conservancy, but Pop made it his own that Christmas. No one objected to the care being taken with the house. The people at the conservancy hung a picture of Pop's tree beside the pictures of the trees in Mr. Broadmore's day.

On Christmas morning, Mama was already in the kitchen when Ivan and I came down. Pop was seated in a chair near the tree, and he handed each of us a present as his kids straggled downstairs. Everyone in the family but Coleen was in the house Christmas morning, and Santa left gifts for all of us.

When I gave Ivan his gift from me, he opened it carefully and put it on as quick as he saw what it was. One of the fisherman who came to assist us, when Mr. Aleksa was laid up, wore a peach symbol. I'd asked what it was. I liked the design. The message was clear. That's when I got the idea to make one for Ivan.

I'd found a silver chain to go with the silver I'd bought to fashion the simple design. I needed help from my shop teacher to get it right.

Once it was done, I engraved three words on the back. I made it so no matter which way you looked at the back, it said either, "Clay Loves Ivan," or, "Ivan Loves Clay."

Everyone wanted to see it and asked what the symbol meant. Teddy knew exactly what it was and he smiled when he held it. Ivan handed it around. No one turned it over to look at the back of it. I was prepared if someone asked me about the love deal.

I bought Mama two scarves for her hair, because she worried it baked in the sun. I got Pop a sign for his desk at work, "World's Best Pop." I gave Lucy a diary with a heart and her name was across the heart. I bought John-Henry a pair of gigantic sunglasses with a note that read, 'For when the cameras are rolling.' He couldn't stop laughing. I gave Brian a half dozen of the comic books he liked.

I found a t-shirt with whales swimming on it. I wanted it for myself but I suspected Teddy would like it. He was quite pleased with it and put it on. The note read, "For the creatures we both love."

I bought Coleen a book, because she read a lot. I bought several books for Ivan. He was always reading too and I didn't want to buy magazines. He always had the magazines he liked.

Mama was in rare form, cooking, baking, and creating enough food to feed an army. There was enough for Ivan and me to take plenty home with us.

It didn't last long.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

It was the weekend after Christmas and another overheated stretch of weather that had Pop, John-Henry, and Brian on the beach. Mama was going to help with meals at the local church to feed the elderly and poor. Lucy had said she might go along. Teddy was at work. I'd come down to take some of Ivan's gifts to his house and to see the tree again. It was awesome to look at.

Presents were still in boxes under the tree, which made it quite festive. I stood watching the tree once I switched on the tree lights.

I'd once again wandered each floor, listened to the house, and was no closer to solving the mystery of who opened my door. Ivan had said something that came back to me, as I caught a glimpse of the chandelier above the tree.

"Was it you, old man Broadmore? You playing with my head?" I asked indignantly. "Did you open my door?"

I saw someone over the top of the tree. The shadow moved on the landing and stopped in front of my bedroom door.

As my eyes adjusted, I could see it was my sister.

"Lucy?" I said. "I thought you went to church with Mama."

"No, I stayed home. You looking for me, Clay?"

"No," I said, baffled by the question before processing her words. Then the picture began to clear.

"You broke my heart, you know?" she said with a sob in her voice. "I was mad at you at first."

"Lucy, I'd never hurt you. I adore you. What is it? I'll fix it."

"That morning! I told Mama I wasn't going shopping. I wanted to stay home and be with my brother. When I opened the door, I was going to run in, jump on your bed, like I did when I was little.

"I saw you. Both of you. Ivan holding you. I told you, I wanted to marry Ivan when I grow up. I didn't know you felt the same way, but there you were in his arms. I closed the door right away."

"It was you? Oh, Lucy, I'm so sorry."

"I saw you searching, trying to find out who was home. I hid when you got to my room. I was mad. I wasn't going to tell you. I could see how it worried you. I've seen how you walk these floors like you might figure it out.

"I stayed home today to tell you. It was me. You can stop worrying. I'm OK now. It's OK. I think I understand."

"Oh, Lucy," I said, going up the two flights of stairs to hold her. My little sister wasn't so little any longer. She cried on my shoulder. In her hand was the diary I'd given her for Christmas. She liked to write. The diary was white with a red heart in the center of the cover. "Lucy" was embossed in gold across the red heart.

I wondered if this might be written in the diary at day's end.

The mystery was solved, but I didn't feel very good about how Lucy found out about Ivan and me. It was a lot of knowledge for a young girl to have.

My fear about who might have opened my door was gone. When I tried to explaining that what she knew could be dangerous, she cut me short.

"I'm not stupid, Clay. I know how the world is. I'll never say anything. It's no one's business. I just know by accident."

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

With the mystery solved I was ready to settle into Ivan's arms for New Years Eve. We'd be at his house to bring in the new year.

It would be 1967 soon and it was a good thing 1966 ended on a high note. The new year was going to be a bummer.

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"The Gulf Between Us" Copyright © OLYMPIA50 1 September 2015 All rights reserved.
This work may not be duplicated in any form (physical, electronic, audio, or otherwise) without the author's written permission. All applicable copyright laws apply. All individuals depicted are fictional with any resemblance to real persons being purely coincidental.
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