Although this story has been around awhile, I thought my Crvboy readers might enjoy it because Doug and Stan appear in "Sunrise" and "Cop Out"; Max and Tim appear in "Flyleaf".

On his hands and knees, Doug was sixty-nining with the guy under him. All he could see were long, hairy legs and long, thin feet whose toes were wiggling. The guy underneath was doing a good job. Doug took the cock in his mouth all the way down, ending up with his nose in the cleft between the guy's balls. His partner hummed his appreciation. That vibration made Doug's pleasure all the greater. He didn't know who the guy was, but at this point he didn't care. He simply gave himself over to the dual pleasures of having his cock sucked by an expert and of working over the big tool in his mouth.

He wasn't sure just how long this had been going on or, for that matter, how long it continued. At some point, however, Doug felt himself being pulled off his partner. 'Awww,' he thought. 'Don't do that. Just when it was getting good!' He was pulled into a standing position. Turning, he saw that the guy behind him was a muscular blond with green eyes. The tall guy with lots of black hair rose from the floor and helped the blond position Doug on a bed, on his back.

Spreading Doug's legs apart, the blond began to rim him. His former 69 partner straddled Doug's head and dangled his cock just above Doug's lips, teasing, holding his cock just out of Doug's reach. Doug lifted his head, straining to get his lips on the snake he'd had to relinquish a moment ago. Simultaneously, the blond stuck his tongue further up Doug's ass than Doug had ever thought a tongue would go, and the dark-haired guy allowed Doug to kiss the tip of his dick. Then he slowly allowed Doug to swallow it, gradually sliding it all the way down Doug's gullet.

When the blond took his tongue away, Doug felt deprived, much as he was enjoying sucking on that delicious piece of meat in his mouth. A moment later, though, he felt the head of the blond's dick pressing against his anus. Again, ever so slowly, it was shoved up his hole. So there he was, spitted and loving it.


'Damn!' Doug thought, 'that radio's been playing for half an hour. What a dream that was! I've got to get dressed and get breakfast. Blair will be here soon.' He gave his leaking cock an apologetic rub, got out of bed, and threw on some clothes. There was no time for anything more than a bowl of cereal. Promptly at 7:30, Doug heard the thundering thump thump of Blair's car stereo as the boy approached his house.

'Man, he is fine stuff,' Doug thought as Blair got out of the car. 'It must be a sign of age,' Doug supposed, 'that I keep thinking of him as a boy. He's twenty-one, and he wouldn't be happy to be called that.'

Blair stood about six feet tall, a couple of inches taller than Doug. He had medium-length dirty blond hair with lighter streaks that came from the Florida sun rather than a salon. His ice-blue eyes were set in a square face. He had what Doug's mother used to call "fine features," delicate, just this side of feminine. He was lightly tanned, and the hair on his arms and legs was sun-bleached almost white. This morning he wore a sweat band on his head, a loose t-shirt cut on each side from the arm holes almost to the waist, and the long, baggy shorts that all the young guys were wearing. He had over-the-calf soccer socks which did nothing to hide the fact that, like many soccer players, he had legs like small tree trunks. His shoulders were broad, his waist narrow, his body fat somewhere around zilch.

Blair approached, hand extended. He always shook hands with Doug whenever they met. Hoping not to get a stiffie, Doug shook hands with Blair and thanked him for coming. Blair's hand was surprisingly cool on this muggy morning.

For a while, he had Blair weeding and mulching the foundation plantings around three sides of his house and along the wall that went the whole width of the back yard. This had been a project that had taken all of July. As Blair finished it, Doug worked with the clippers cutting back overgrown plumbago, oleander, hibiscus, and thryallis bushes.

After Blair had had some water and rested for a few minutes, he was ready to do more.

Flashing his killer smile, Blair asked, "Do you trust me with those loppers, or are you afraid I'll make everything too square?" This was a reference to earlier garden sessions when the two men had found they had different ideas about how a garden should look. Blair, a math major, liked everything in straight rows. The first time he had "trimmed" a plumbago, he had made it perfectly cube-shaped.

Doug's preference was for a more natural garden where everything looked as if it had just "happened." It takes care to make a garden look that way, and it requires much more careful pruning. Blair good-naturedly learned to do it Doug's way. But he teased the older man from time to time about their different tastes in gardens.

As Blair worked with the clippers, Doug began to rake up the clippings and put them into plastic lawn bags for disposal, keeping an eye on what Blair was doing all the while. Together they worked companionably for another hour or so.

"It's getting too hot, Blair," Doug said. "Let's knock off."

"Whatever you say, boss," the younger man replied. "You want me to carry these bags of trash to the curb?"

"No, they won't be picked up until Wednesday, so just put them behind the garage. I'll move them Tuesday night."

A few minutes later, Blair said, "That's done. Anything else you want me to do?"

"No, man. You've done a lot of work this morning. Now, go enjoy your weekend," Doug said, handing the boy money. "Everything looks great."

"Thanks, sir. I hope I didn't make the bushes too geometrical," he said, smiling again.

"Blair, after four weeks, I think you can drop the 'sir.' You know I wish you'd call me 'Doug.' And the bushes will be fine. This is Florida, after all, so they'll grow back quickly. Can you come again next Saturday?"

Folding and pocketing the bills, the boy responded, "Yeah, but soccer practice starts Monday after next, and classes begin the week after that. So I'm gonna be pretty busy. But I'll see you at 7:30 next Saturday morning for sure if that's ok."

"Great," Doug replied. "You know I appreciate your help. When does Mary get back?"

Smiling even more broadly, Blair said, "Next Friday. But she'll sleep late Saturday morning, so I can still come over here."

"If you're sure I'm not taking you away from your lady, I'll look forward to seeing you Saturday morning."

Turning to go to his old but well-kept Honda, Blair said, "Thanks, Doug. See you next week."

Doug stared wistfully at the boy's beautiful butt moving deliciously under the baggy shorts. His cock began to leak. 'Down, Brutus!' Doug thought. 'He's not jailbait, and you're not his professor. But Blair is obviously straight. He seems pretty fond of Mary. He trusts you. You're almost old enough to be his grandfather. You can be a friend to him, but you have to leave it at that! Yeah, yeah, do the right thing. You know very well what can happen otherwise. But "the right thing" sure as hell gets old.'

He cleaned each of the tools carefully, hosed out the garden cart he and Blair had been using, put down the garage door, and stepped into the laundry. There he stripped naked, put the dirty clothes in the appropriate bins, and walked through the kitchen, across the dining room, and into his bedroom. He'd always thought that, though being alone was no picnic, at least you didn't have to worry about the proprieties.

He looked at himself in the large mirror over the double basins of the master bath. 'Ironic. What do I need with two sinks?' The guy looking back at him from the mirror was certainly nothing special. With light brown hair graying at the temples and all along the edges, and very dark brown eyes, Doug stood at 5'10". His body was wiry, he'd been told. He thought he was just plain skinny. He'd never been particularly hairy, but what hair there was on his body was beginning to turn gray. That was harder to take than the gray hair on his head.

'Damn! That Blair is gorgeous! I'd like to spend an afternoon just licking all his delectable places. And the evening sucking and fucking.'

As thoughts of Blair caused his cock to stiffen and rise, Doug reached into a drawer from which he took a dildo and a bottle of lube. Liberally coating the middle finger of his right hand, he inserted it into his hole, which had been twitching in anticipation. Removing the finger, he put lube on the dildo and slowly worked that into the hole. He had done this often enough that it went in easily, almost popping into place. Then he flipped the little switch in the base, and the plastic cock began to vibrate.

Doug leaned forward, putting a hand on the marble counter top around the sinks. He closed his eyes and got lost in the feelings generated by the vibrations against his prostate. It took longer to come now than it used to, but that just prolonged the pleasure.

He thought of Blair, especially that hot ass, as the dildo transmitted shock waves throughout his body. Eventually, he decided to take matters into his own hand, so to speak. By this time, he had been leaking so much, all he had to do was smear the pre-cum over his throbbing dick and rub a little. 'Oh, yeah!' That was doing the trick. There was the familiar tingling in his balls. His breath came now in short gasps. And the needed release, the explosion. 'Ah! There it is! Yesss!'

He caught the cum in his left hand and rinsed it off under the faucet. No sense making a mess. The ersatz cock made an obscene noise as he pulled it out of his hole. He washed it carefully in antibacterial soap, dried it, and put it away. Then he stepped to the shower stall and turned on the hot water.

As he showered, he was still thinking of Blair. He was bright. Made good grades at the local university. Had a subtle sense of humor and a wicked smile. Doug sensed, however, after having taken Blair to dinner a couple of times over the summer, that they wouldn't have much in common. The age difference was simply too great. There was the music the kid listened to. Christian rap, for Pete's sake! And he was very conservative politically. No, Blair was sexy as hell, but even if he were gay and if he found Doug at all attractive -- two pretty big "ifs" -- they had nothing on which to build a relationship.

All of which left Doug where he started -- alone and longing for a man.

* * *

As he drove back to his apartment, Blair was thinking about the man whose garden he'd just spent the morning working in. 'Doug's pretty cool for a guy that old,' he mused. 'He's easy to work for. Tells me what he wants done and trusts me to do it. I like it that he doesn't mind getting dirty and working with me sometimes. And he always pays me more than I've earned. Used to be a prof. Wish more of mine were like him. He seems pretty lonely, though. Why else would he ask someone my age to go to dinner at Friday's with him? With Mary gone, I've been pretty much alone in this totally boring little town all summer. Made a nice change to just relax and visit with a professor type. Made a nice change from the crap I make for supper when I'm alone, too. He's a really nice guy. Kind of shy, though. At dinner he asked me lots of things about myself. When I asked a direct question about his life, he'd answer it, but he never volunteered any information. He always managed to turn the conversation back to me. I wonder why he doesn't want to talk about himself? Shy, maybe? Or does he have something to hide?'

* * *

That afternoon Doug worked for an hour or so on his pc, read for a while, eventually nodding off. He awoke with a start.

"Shit, I've got to get changed and pick up Hallie."

He rushed to the bedroom, got out his electric razor and shaved again, and splashed water on his face. He put on a blue oxford cloth button-down, khakis, and cordovan tassel loafers. Although it was 92 degrees outside, he felt more dressed up in a long-sleeved shirt. Besides, in over-air-conditioned places like movies and restaurants, he was perfectly comfortable in long sleeves.

Doug had first met Hallie at St. John's, the Episcopal church where they were both members. Hallie was on the vestry. Both she and Doug were lay readers/Eucharistic servers. They soon discovered that they were both also involved with the HenryRidenourGardens, Doug as a volunteer and Hallie as a member of the board and volunteer as well.

Hallie was a divorcée a few years younger than Doug. She came from "old money." She now lived in an old, wealthy, gated community, Davenport Hills, in a house her grandparents had originally built as a winter retreat. She had inherited it from her parents, and after her divorce she had moved in. The divorce had just been finalized when Doug had moved to LakePolk four years earlier. A year later, when the two of them became friends, she was still hurting. Doug had been, he hoped, a good listener. They had become close, in their own way. Doug thought it was perfectly possible to have a real friendship with a woman. He just hoped she never wanted to move it along to anything sexual.

When he stopped at the gate, the guard said, "Good evening, Dr. Curtis. Ms. Hall is expecting you."

The Hall house was invisible from the road because of a thicket of pines and oaks. It was large, but not ostentatious, resembling a bungalow that, like Topsy, "just growed." By the time he had turned the car around, Hallie was halfway down the steps.

Hallie was a tall, thin woman, as tall as Doug. She was striking rather than beautiful. She was a brown-eyed blonde, and it obviously took a fair amount of money to keep her hair as perfect as it always looked. She had a longish face and fine features, very much the patrician. Born in the South, she was one of those women who covered a steel-trap mind with true graciousness. She had two grown sons, both of them married, and she went to see them often. She had been everywhere, done everything. By comparison, Doug felt provincial and unsophisticated. But they had hit it off well from the time they first met. Now they often went to plays, movies, concerts, or restaurants together. In a purely platonic way, Doug was very fond of her.

Despite women's lib, Doug was true to his upbringing. He started to get out of the car to open the door for her.

"Doug, darling, I love you for wanting to, but I'm quite capable of opening this door for myself."

As she buckled herself in, she said, "I've been looking forward to this evening. The paper made the exhibit at the museum sound fascinating. And as long as I've been around this area, I've never been to Hank's Bar and Grill."

"Yes," he replied. "I'm curious about the exhibit, too. But I'm surprised that you haven't been to Hank's. It's in the middle of downtown Parkerville."

"Don't know how I have managed to miss it."

During the forty-five minute drive into Parkerville, they chatted about Hallie's recent trip north to visit relatives, church matters, the Gardens, and local gossip, including the appointment of a new LakePolk city manager.

Doug had first seen Parkerville's Imperial Museum of Art four years earlier, not long after he had moved to LakePolk. It was brand new at the time, an impressive two-story, very modern facility. There was a nicely-landscaped sculpture garden off the lobby, which had a glass wall so that one could admire the garden and its waterfall from inside. At that time, however, Doug's impression was that it was a nice building with nothing much inside. Since then, they had acquired a small but impressive permanent collection. The gallery spaces for visiting exhibits were carefully planned, versatile, and well lighted.

The exhibit Doug and Hallie had come to see was . . . interesting, that catch-all word people use when they can't think of anything better. The artist was a faculty member at a prestigious college in Maine. Some of his works, abstracts with vivid, mostly primary colors, were done in acrylic on large, loose, unframed canvases, perhaps four by six feet. The background was generally white or cream, and, since there was a lot of background, the brilliant colors stood out. In addition to the large canvases, there were a dozen or so smaller framed monoprints. These, too, were fascinating. They were generally abstracts in muted grays, pinks, lavenders, and blues. What was most interesting, however, was that the monoprints had a sparkle, as if they had been sprinkled liberally with ground glass. Doug and Hallie examined each work carefully, finding lots to talk about in each.

"Do you suppose," Hallie asked, "that he did these on sandpaper?"

"Well, artists who work with pastels often use sandpaper. Maybe that's what he did here, even though the medium isn't pastel."

"I'll be right back," Hallie said. She went to the desk in the lobby to ask if there were a brochure about the exhibit. There was, but it only gave a bio of the artist and listed the works with titles, sizes, and, of course, prices, leaving them no wiser than before about the paper used for the monoprints.

After spending an hour on the special exhibit, they revisited the museum's excellent pre-Columbian gallery before thanking the volunteer who was staffing the gift shop, putting some bills in the contribution box, and going to the car.

Hank's Bar and Grill is a popular, unpretentious restaurant on a busy corner in downtown Parkerville. There's a city-owned parking building directly behind it, however, so finding a space for Doug's car wasn't a problem. The restaurant was busy even though it was early, but they were seated immediately. When a young woman came to take their drink orders, Hallie had a gibson on the rocks and Doug had Dry Sack. The two of them had developed a system for keeping waitpersons from bothering them too much while they talked. They ordered an appetizer whether they really wanted one or not. On this occasion, they ordered deep-fried calamari. Doing so bought them some time to nibble and work on their drinks. And the calamari was delicious. Later their server brought them a second round of drinks and took their orders for the main course. Both selected grilled mahi-mahi, with black beans and rice plus a salad, since the restaurant featured New Orleans style food.

At one point, Hallie mentioned that she had recently heard from an old friend of hers who lived in New York City.

"Margi's single, you know. She was saying that she has several men friends who are gay."

Doug took a long pull of his sherry, suddenly tense. What was coming? Would he have to pretend, to say things he didn't believe? This was one of the things about his life that made him restless, irritable. He knew that if he ever came out in the conservative little town he had chosen to live in, things would never be the same. He would probably lose his friends, become a pariah, perhaps even have to move away. He was very comfortable in most respects. He found his work at the church and the Gardens fulfilling. It galled him that he couldn't live openly as a gay man, but he didn't have the guts to do it. He had invested too much time and effort into finding a place in this community, which in other respects he really liked.

"Anyway, Doug dear, Margi said that for a woman in her position, having gay men friends was perfect. They make charming companions, but you don't have to worry about entangling alliances and things like that."

"Mmmm," Doug said, taking a bite of calamari and another sip of sherry. Here was his chance to come out to someone he really liked. But Doug had learned discretion over the years. Why risk a good thing? He needed Hallie not only for cover but also because he really enjoyed her friendship. He knew, moreover, that she had so much money that she might properly be suspicious of any man who showed an interest in her.

"What's wrong, Doug?" Hallie asked. "Did I say something I shouldn't have?"

"No, Hallie, of course not. But there's something I want to say to you, and I'm thinking how to put it."

"Oh, darlin', just SAY it! You know you can tell me anything."

Doug took a deep breath. "OK. I want you to understand me here. Please don't think I'm telling you that I'm gay."

She started to say something, but didn't when Doug held up his hand.

"I'm NOT telling you I'm gay. But there's no reason why you and I can't have that kind of relationship. I love you. I truly enjoy your company. I love our outings together. But at this point in my life, I have no interest in what your friend calls 'entangling alliances.' I hope that clarifies things for you and makes you comfortable. I'd hate for you to misunderstand."

"Dougie, I understand completely. Pretty much, I had assumed that all along, but it's nice to have an understanding, isn't it?" She patted his hand and changed the subject.

"When do you 'read' next?" she asked.

"Tomorrow at 8:00. Cal Jones is doing the psalm and I've got the lessons."

"I just love to hear you read. You do it with such clarity and feeling."

"Aren't you sweet? You need to remember, though, that I spent my career reading literary texts to people, so I've had lots of practice."

"You surely aren't sight reading those Bible passages, though, are you?"

"Come on! You know I'm not. Just like you when it's your turn, I go to the church early in the week and find out what the readings are. Then I go home and practice them."

"Well, Dougie, it shows. You never stumble."

"Thanks, Hallie. As I'm sure you'll agree, the point is not to do anything to call attention to one's self, to keep the focus on the meaning of the liturgy."

Later, at her house, Doug got out of the car and walked with her to the door.

"Thanks, Doug. I've really enjoyed the evening. I haven't been to the county museum often, and Hank's is a neat place."

She offered her cheek, which Doug duly kissed.

"See you bright and early at church," she said.

"Well, early, if not bright. Good night, Hallie."

"Good night, dear."

As he drove home, Doug was feeling guilty. He hadn't lied to Hallie back there in the restaurant, but he hadn't been totally honest with her, either. Life would be so much easier if he could be honest with his friends about who and what he was. But then, would they still be his friends? His position at St. John's and at the Gardens would certainly be jeopardized if he came out. This was, after all, a very small town in conservative, rural, central Florida, a town where everyone knew everyone else, or at least, as some of the snobs would say, "Everyone who counted."

* * *

That same evening, in a booth at a pub in LakePolk sat Mary, Blair, and another couple. Three of them were having beers. Blair had a coke.

"Sure you won't have a beer with us, Blair?" asked the other male in the group.

"No, thanks, Sam. You know soccer starts soon, and I'm supposed to be in training.

"Your coach will never know. Besides, soccer practice hasn't even started yet."

"I know. To tell the truth, I've never had much of a taste for it."

"Man! You have tried it, haven't you?"

"Yeah, so get off my case, Rogers. I just don't want any, ok?"

"Sammy, leave Blair alone. He doesn't need to drink if he doesn't want to," said Sam's date.

Putting his hands up in a gesture of surrender, Sam said, "Okay, Okay! I was just trying to be sociable. So, Mercier, what's with this guy you've been workin' for this summer?"

"He's a nice guy. Used to be a prof up north somewhere."

"Mary was telling us while you were in the pisser that you went to dinner with him a couple of times?"

The blonde with Sam spoke up. "What a drag!"

"Well, it wasn't so bad. You guys were all home for the summer. I was here, trying to make enough to pay my rent and buy food, and working at the Gardens. Doug is there a lot, and one day we got to talking. He was asking about me, and I mentioned that I missed Mary, didn't know what to do with myself here in LakePolk with everyone gone, and needed to earn some money."

"So?" encouraged the blonde.

"So he told me his garden had gotten out of control while he was away in June and wanted to know if I'd like to help him with it. I said I could use the money." I was doing my work at Ridenour weekday mornings, and you know how hot it is around here afternoons. He suggested that I come early on Saturday morning and work for a few hours while it was still sort of cool."

The others nodded, so Blair continued. "One day he asked what I was doing that evening. He knew Mary was at home and my folks are four hours away in FortMeyers. I said I would probably stay home and eat a pbj sandwich and watch whatever was on television. That's when he asked me to go to the mall and have supper with him."

"Booorrrring," said the blonde.

"Well, it was a free meal. Besides, he's a decent guy, not stuffy at all. He seemed OK about being with me. I mean, what am I to him? Just some college jock he never saw before this summer. I think he was as lonesome as I was. So I suggested the next weekend us going to a movie. He said he'd like that, but why didn't we have dinner again first. So we did. That's all."

"Sounds like a goddam queer to me," said Sam.

* * *

When Doug got home after dropping Hallie off, he checked his voice mail. Nothing. Then he booted up his computer and logged onto the internet to check his email. Nothing. Then he checked to see if any of his several IM buddies were on. No one. 'Pathetic,' he said to himself. 'Here it is, 9:00 on a Saturday evening, and you're alone, trying to think of something to do until you can reasonably go to bed!'

He turned on one of Tampa's two PBS stations and watched BBC sitcoms until 11:00, at which point he turned off the TV and went to his bedroom. After taking off and carefully hanging up his pants, he threw the rest of his clothes in a hamper. He brushed his teeth, flossed, urinated, and went to bed. He might have turned on the TV in the bedroom, but he knew there was nothing on that he wanted to watch. Besides, he wanted to be fresh for the 8:00 service the next morning. After setting his bedside radio to play for 30 minutes before shutting down, he turned off the light. By the time the radio had switched off, Doug had drifted off to sleep, hoping to revisit that morning's dream.

No such luck. Doug awoke when the radio came on at 6:30, not aware of having dreamed at all. He pulled on some shorts, sox, sneakers, and a t-shirt. He had time to run a while before eating breakfast and cleaning up for church.

Back home after his jog around the neighborhood, he had orange juice, scrambled eggs, and toast. Bacon would have been nice, but he was beginning to be more careful about cholesterol.

He showered and shaved. Instead of his usual suit or jacket and tie, he put on a white shirt, open at the collar, dark slacks, and black loafers. Since he was reading this morning, he knew a jacket and tie would be superfluous under his vestments.

He arrived at St. John's at 7:30, a half an hour before the service was to begin. He found no one in the vesting room when he got there. At the 8:00 service, there were no acolytes. Father Dave was no doubt around, but Doug hadn't seen him yet. And Cal Jones would predictably arrive at the last moment.

Doug put on the full-length black cassock. When he donned that garment, he was always reminded of Bing Crosby and Gregory Peck, who had both played Catholic priests in movies he had loved when he was a kid. Then he pulled on the short, white cotta over the cassock. As he told Hallie, he had gone to the church earlier in the week to find out what the lessons were. He had the insert from the bulletin tucked into the appropriate place in his Book of Common Prayer/Hymnal combination.

When, about ten minutes before 8:00, Father Dave walked in, said hello, and began to put on his vestments, Doug lighted the candle lighter and went into the sanctuary to light the candles on the altar.

As he was putting the candle lighter back into its holder, Cal breezed in, said a casual good morning, and began putting on his cassock.

"Who's doing what this morning, Doug?"

"You're doing the Psalm, I've got the lessons."

"OK. I guess I'd better take a look at the Psalm for today."

A few minutes later, Father Dave said a brief prayer, and the three of them entered the sanctuary from the side.

Things went smoothly during the service. Both Cal and Doug were experienced, though they had different styles. Doug tended to be over-prepared, over-conscientious. Cal, by contrast, was very casual. This morning, for example, he was wearing sandals with no socks under his khaki slacks.

'I suppose,' Doug thought, 'he is wearing on his feet what monks did for centuries, so I shouldn't be critical. But some people in the congregation are going to be upset. We Episcopalians are a pretty up-tight bunch, for sure.'

Both men read their appointed passages without stumbling. For Doug it was old hat because, as he had said to Hallie, he had years of experience reading to college students. After the passing of the Peace, both men went to the Gospel side of the church, out of sight of the congregation. Cal gave Dave, the priest, the wine and water as needed. Doug rang the bells at the appropriate places. All of this gave Doug a feeling he could hardly describe. He felt that he was participating in something different from anything else he did in his life, and he looked forward to the Sundays when it was his turn to be what was called in the bulletin a lay Eucharistic minister, or LEM.

The most special part of the service, however, was the point at which the two men, each taking half of the communion rail, followed Father Dave, offering the chalice after the priest had put the wafer into the communicant's hand.

This serving of the wine always gave Doug goose bumps. He wasn't sure why, but something was going on at this time which overrode his years of training in logic, his experience as a scholar. What was happening here defied logic. "Call it the Holy Spirit if you want," Father Dave had told him often. "It's something greater than yourself, whatever you call it. You step back from your being there and become only the bearer at that moment."

At St. John's, there were three ways a communicant could receive the wine. The most common was for the server to hold the chalice while the communicant took a sip from it, usually steadying it from the bottom with one hand. If, for whatever reason, the person did not want to drink from the chalice, she or he could hold the wafer between thumb and forefinger. The server knew to hold the chalice so that the receiver could dip ("intinct") the wafer into the wine and then put it into his or her own mouth. A third and fairly common way was for the communicant to leave the wafer in his or her upturned palm. The server thus knew to intinct the wafer, which he then put on the tongue of the communicant.

As Doug passed along the altar rail, when nearly everyone had been served, he noted a bowed head that he did not recognize, obviously someone who had been sitting near the back of the church. 'A visitor,' he thought, 'or a new parishioner.'

Moving in front of the kneeling newcomer, he saw that the wafer was resting in the man's palm. He took the wafer, dipping it into the wine.

In Doug's experience, it was fairly common for the communicant to smile at the server at the time when the wine is offered.

In this case, however, the stranger tilted his head back, opened his mouth so that Doug could place the wafer on his tongue, looked Doug steadily in the eye, and winked!

Then he was smiling, with what could only be described as a devilish twinkle in his eyes. Doug's heart and his cock lurched. There was a magical, instant connection that certainly was not religious. This had nothing to do with the Holy Spirit. This was all to do with the flesh.

The man was about Doug's age, or perhaps a bit younger. He had short, dark, curly hair, salted with a little grey. He wore a neatly-trimmed mustache and a short goatee, both of which had a little more gray than the hair on his head. They eyes which had so jolted Doug were an intense blue.

"The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ keep you in everlasting life," Doug said, dipping the wafer in the wine before putting it on the stranger's tongue.

After chewing and swallowing the wafer, the kneeling man crossed himself and said "Amen" as Doug passed on to the next person.

As the last hymn was sung, Father Dave walked up the main aisle to the rear of the church. Cal and Doug exited to the side, into the vesting room.

"Cal," Doug asked, "would you mind putting out the candles?"

"No problem, Doug," his partner for the morning responded.

Doug quickly took off and with uncharacteristic carelessness hung up the cotta and cassock. He hurried into the parish hall in hopes of seeing the stranger whose look had burned so deeply into him, but the mystery guy didn't seem to be there.

"Doug, darling, you were marvelous, as usual," Hallie said.

"Thanks, Hallie," he responded. "I saw that we had a newcomer this morning, obviously an Episcopalian. Do you have any idea who he was?"

"No, darling. As you know, I always sit near the front, so I have no idea who's sitting behind me."

"And you didn't notice anyone new returning to his seat?"

"No, I'm afraid not. What's all the fuss? This man seems to have made a strong impression on you." Not waiting for an answer, Hallie asked, "Are you going to stay for breakfast?"

"I've already had my breakfast. I guess I'm not a traditionalist on that score. But after running, I'm not about to wait through the service to get something to eat. Besides, when we have to help Father Dave consume the leftover wine, I'd fall on my face if I hadn't eaten before the service."

For the rest of the day, thoughts and visions of the sexy stranger kept troubling Doug. He felt guilty that he had had sexual thoughts during the very holiest moments of the service. He had to admit, though, that the guy was a hottie. And there was a connection when their eyes met.