Chapter Fifty-six



It was the last week of September and the first supply ship was due to arrive sometime during the first week of October. Any man interested in writing a letter home was giving the means to do so and many were spending a bit of time on a peaceful Sunday afternoon doing just that.

Thomas sat with pen in hand and his writing tablet on his knees, thinking about what he wanted to say to his cousin. He glanced up to smile at Galen who was diligently penning a letter home. A light breeze was stirring the black curls on his fiancé head.

Dear William;

I write to you, dear cousin, in hopes that I might still have your respect or understanding. I am sure that you were quite shocked to hear of my exile and the charges which brought it about. If you have in anyway attempted to defend me from those charges, I ask that you desist as they are quite true and I have confessed to such of my own free will. 

My life here on the island is much better than I might have hoped. I have found for the first time, true peace and freedom to live openly with no further fear of censure. We have here twenty-seven men from all walks of life, struggling together to create a community and I have every reason to believe we shall succeed! 

I have met someone amongst these men with whom I have fallen in love. His name is Galen and he has become the best part of my life. We are to be married in a little over two weeks’ time. I long for the day of our joining more than anything else I have ever desired. I recall well the time of your engagement to your beloved Hyacinth. You spoke to me in confidence of your desire for her and of your plans for a future home of loving discipline where you would be head of the house with Hyacinth working alongside you. I watched the life you two built together and know it, along with that of my late parents, to be the most successful and happiest marriages ever. It is my fervent wish that Galen and I form such a marriage and if we are so blessed, I will have you and them to thank for giving me such fine examples to follow. 

We have several successful crops growing in our fields here and are working hard to build a solid shelter in which we may survive the coming winter. We have been told that a ship is to arrive soon, bearing supplies which will further aid in our managing of the coming months. It is our hope that this ship will bring this letter back home to you. If you so desire I would dearly love to hear from you when the next ship is due six months hence. 

I know that my sister and her husband have taken over the family land and I pray only that they do not drive it to ruin, though I fear those prayers are unlikely to come true. Might I ask you to check in on my sister’s well-being? Though I have no love lost for her husband, Pauline is still my sister and I am concerned for her living with such a lazy drunkard as George Ryan.

I hope this letter finds you and your family well,

With loving regards,

Cousin Thomas

********************

Galen stared at the few paragraphs he had written. He had so much he wanted to tell his family about, but knew he only had the one sheet of paper. ‘Good thing we can use both sides,’ he quietly giggled to himself.

Dear Mitera and Pateras:

Hope this letter gets to you and finds you all well and happy. I am! Well and happy, that is. There is a supply ship arriving any day now and that is why I am able to write you.

It is a beautiful, sunny day here and I am sitting on a big cliff. I am only allowed to come here when Thomas is with me. He is sitting beside me and writing a letter too. I’m going to be telling you all about him throughout this letter.

You don’t have to worry about me anymore because I’ve got someone very special in my life. Thomas takes care of me and I let him, so that makes us equal. Tell Pappous someone is finally doing what he wanted Papa to do. Yep, someone is keeping a firmer hold on me. (I’m laughing now, but it’s true!) Thomas is as big as you are, Papa.

Just like you feared, Mama, I was really sick during the sea voyage, but I got over it fast once we got off the ship. We landed on the island the day I turned eighteen and I met Thomas almost immediately. I considered him my birthday gift. He is a bit older than me and was a landowner before coming here. But now he is the head of the council we all voted for and is in charge of anything to do with agriculture. I get to take care of the livestock, which I’m good at because you, Papa and Pappous, taught me well. But I’d really like it if I had my own small vineyard and could make fine wine for everyone.

Wish you could see all we’ve done since getting here. We planted several acres of a wide variety of crops and are about to start what Thomas says is a good harvest. We have built a lot of things and should be moving into our new lodge by the end of the month. We also have a new barn, smokehouse, icehouse, workshops and even a small hospital because we got a doctor and nurse to take care of us if we get sick or hurt. Been busy, haven’t we?

I can hardly wait to move into our new home. First, because Thomas and I will have our own room. Until now we have been sharing a tent with four other guys. And right now, many of us are sleeping right in the gathering tent because the smaller ones are being cut up to make mattresses for our new beds. Secondly, because Thomas and I are going to be the first couple to get married in the Lodge. Great, huh?  In fact, by the time you get this, I’ll be a married man. Thomas says we’re going to build our own cabin next year.

Because of Thomas, I’m happy and feel safe. I’m not afraid anymore. And I’ve made some other really good friends too. Three of my friends and I made a raft last week and we share it with everyone. We’re only permitted to play on it at the lagoon and only if the weather is good. A couple of guys got in trouble for breaking that rule and can’t use the raft for a while. The older men here kind of watch over the younger ones and the council makes rules we all have to obey.

 Some of us have already started making plans for our first Christmas on the island. We’ve been sharing different traditional ideas with each other. I know it won’t be the same as Christmases past, but I’m looking forward to it anyway. For a few of the guys it will be their first Christmas ever. Can you imagine that?

You know what I miss most? I mean besides you, Mama and Papa, and Pappous and Gigia, and big brother Dino and his wife Clarisa, and older sister Glenda. I really miss that big old rocking chair. You know the one I’m talking about, the one the three of us used to rock in together. Bet it would fit Thomas and me just right. Funny the things you kinda take for granted then end up missing the most.

Hope you can write back so I know you got this. The next ship, after the one coming in soon, isn’t due to arrive until sometime next April. It’s going to be hard waiting to hear from you. Remember me to everyone and hug them all for me. Don’t be sad. I’ve settled in just fine and I am happy too. Hey, am I an uncle yet? If so, please kiss my little niece or nephew and tell her or him about me. Hope you all have a very merry Christmas.

I think of you all every day and love you lots. Please don’t let anyone forget me, Mama.

Your youngest son,
Galen

Sypke curled up his lip in disgust at the piece of paper in front of him. Larry and Aiden were sitting at the table with him, bringing special friends up to date on all that had been happening in their lives, but the young man didn’t know who he was expected to write to.

“What’s wrong, Spyke?” Larry asked as another sigh disturbed his thoughts.

“What the fuck am I supposed to do with this?” Spyke answered with a question of his own, waving the sheet of paper in the air.

“The same as the rest of us are doing, laddie, write someone!” Aiden’s voice held a touch of growing exasperation.

“Well, being as I never had the opportunity to make friends before coming here, who could that someone possibly be?” Spyke glared at his partner. He smirked as a thought came to him. “Hmm, maybe I can write the fat bastard and thank him for having me exiled to this great place. I can tell him all about you, Aiden, and that I now have a ‘real’ man making love to me. What do ya think of that idea?”

“I think that blank paper can be put to better use by Walker who is writing out a list of supplies needed on the next ship. Why don’t you take it to him?” Larry suggested.

“Yeah, and maybe I can help him. I like making lists!” Spyke agreed and happily left his partners in peace.

“’Tis sure I am that Walker ‘twill be eternally grateful to ye for settin’ our wee partner upon him,” Aiden dryly commented, causing both men to hoot with laughter before focusing once again on their letter-writing.

Dear Eric:

I don’t know if this letter will ever reach you but I wanted to take a moment to let you know what has occurred in my life since we last spoke.

You may know of my secret being discovered and of my being sent to an island with other men like myself.

My first night on the ship was a difficult one. I was understandably upset but in remembering advice you’d given me in the past, I made the best of the situation and all turned out for the better.

Things are looking up here. I found someone very special. Actually, Eric, I found two wonderful people. Yeah, you read right! The first is a giant of a man and his name is Aiden. He is slightly older than I am and he makes me feel safe, loved and secure. He has a very powerful personality and you know when he speaks he means business. Our relationship is based on both love and respect and there are rules I have to follow. That’s right, Eric, I am in a disciplinary relationship with this man. Remember you told me once this was the type of relationship I needed. Well, you were right again. My husband, Aiden, knows when I need to be taken down a few pegs, but he also knows how to temper that discipline with gentleness and love.

The other person I am married to is Spyke. He is a few years younger than I and we have formed a very deep and personal bond. We are there for each other in every way. He brings out the silly side of me and makes me realize that life doesn’t have to be all serious and military in nature. I love them both very much. As a matter of fact I find myself needing my journal less and less as I give myself over to these two men more with every passing day. Again, my friend, you were right about that happening as well. You must be gloating by now to finally hear me admitting that you were right about things. 

Although I am writing to you to let you know how my life is going, I have another purpose for this letter. Do you remember before I joined the Marines, you took me shopping and our errands led us into this quaint little shop where we saw that Scottish sword, I believe you told me it was called a Claymore, hanging on the wall? Well I know you can’t send me the sword itself, but if you get a chance to write me back, would you please see if you could find me a picture of it. You see, Eric, this special man I speak about is of Scottish heritage and I when I close my eyes I can see him yielding that sword high over his head. It gives me a feeling of great joy and admiration, so I want to share with him these feelings by giving him a portrait of that sword.

If this letter does reach you and you can send one back, please insert the picture within. For this I will be eternally grateful.

Well I must go for now, my dear friend. Please remember I will always cherish the time we had together and I will never forget everything you did for me. Although we discovered we were not meant to be lovers, what grew from that discovery will be with me for the rest of my life. I love you, Eric, and you will always be in my thoughts and in my heart.

Your fellow-marine,
Larry

My Dear Friends:

I trust this letter will find ye all well. I ne’er had the occasion to thank ye for seeing to it that Tyrone had a decent burial. And although I was made aware of yer presence at the trial, I was not permitted to converse with ye. I know ye desired to speak on my behalf but were not granted an opportunity to do so.

‘Tis grateful I am for all yer kindness in closing me shop. For selling off as much as ye could, in packing the tools I wasna able to bring with me and seeing they made it to the ship, and in particular the pot-belly stove ye took the time and trouble to crate up. It presently sits in our Infirmary.

Dinnae fash yerselves o’er me fate. I am at peace and verra, verra happy. I have been blessed with two verra special men for partners. We have been fortunate in having plenty of work to do and I continue to enjoy perfecting my craft. Aye, and ‘tis no short time ‘til we’ll be moving into our new lodge. ‘Tis only the final touches on the bare necessities by way of furnishings, doors and windows that we are now waiting on.

‘Tis looking forward I am to the arrival of our first supply ship and seeing just what has been sent to us. Though  sure I am, the humanitarian activist group responsible for acquiring what ’tis needed will do an excellent job of it all.

I close now with a promise to write ye twice yearly, each time the ship visits the island.

Your friend,
Aiden

September 25th, 1880

Dr. Daniel Jonas
Jonas Clinic

Dear Daniel,

We have been told to expect a supply ship sometime next month and it is our hope that they will be willing to take our correspondence with them when they depart. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for spearheading the collection and shipping of the medical supplies we were given. I know it was you, Daniel, as several of the items had been marked as ‘property of the Jonas Clinic’.

By the grace of the God there was a Registered Nurse amongst those exiled here. I have been most grateful for his presence. There are twenty-seven men here so you might think me lacking in patients, however I have been kept busy doing complete physical examinations on each man, treating a morphine addict, a wide variety of injuries, removing an appendix, and serving as veterinarian and midwife to numerous fowl, goats, pigs, dogs, and a mule. 

When not occupied with those labours I have been teaching health education and sanitation, as well as studying the local herbs. My surgical skills have been put to work in another unique area. It seems I am rather good with a needle and thread so lately I have been spending time with our tailor mending linen. Don’t laugh, it keeps my fingers nimble.

I have news, which I think will please you. You were always telling me I should settle down and take a mate. Well, I have found someone. His name is Gille, twenty-two years old and the most beautiful creature I have ever laid eyes on. We were married a month ago; the ceremony officiated over by none other than Walker Drummond, former Chief Magistrate of Kingston County. Gille and I are building a good life here. I have never been happier as we balance each other perfectly.

I am attempting to teach him some of the ways of my mother’s people. He is an apt pupil when he does not allow his temper to get in his way. I would like to give him an amulet bag but I do not have the artistic ability to create one worthy of this beautiful man. I recall you admiring the bag which my mother had given me, so you know what I mean when I say they are a work of art.

I hope this letter finds you and your family well. I was not given time to tell you how much I appreciate the time and caring you gave this humble student. You took me into your home and taught me all I know of surgery and so much more. I am forever in your debt with no way of making restitution. May the Gods bless and keep you.

Lakota Evans

After finishing his letter, Lakota went in search of his young husband. He knew that Gille had no one to write to and realized he might be feeling left out. He decided he would take his lover for a walk and find a secluded spot where they could make love and while away an hour or so. It was a rare thing for them to have such free time and Lakota was determined to make the most of it, while showing the young man just how much he was loved.

Dear Mother and Father:

I’m sure you know by now that I have been exiled to a special island thanks to the actions of your oldest son. At first I was bitter and angry at what he had done to me and I felt very much betrayed. Those feelings soon faded away when I met a lot of fine men here. Since I am a shopkeeper, my talents have led to the responsibility of taking care of the supplies.

I am aware that you were probably rather shocked; especially you Father, when you first heard about my sexual preference but I hope you have come to terms with it. This letter I am sending you is to let you know how I am doing. My orientation was my downfall and it allowed brother Oliver to put his plan in action to get rid of me, so I never really got the opportunity to sit down with you both and the rest of my siblings to explain who I really am. I know, Mother, you suspected my sexuality for some time now but were respectful enough to let me bring up the subject myself. If I hurt any of you, I ask forgiveness for that, but not for who I am.

Please be happy for me. I am in at peace with myself and in a place where I now feel I was meant to be. I have become friends with all the other men on the island and now have the alliances that were lacking in my former life. I have not yet met the love of my life. Maybe there will be someone for me with the next arrival of exiles in April. For a while though, I did have a special mentor type relationship with a wonderful young man but poor Kelby was killed in an accident three months ago. He has been our only fatality to date. 

How was your birthday, Mother?  Did my sister Catherine attempt to bake you that chocolate cake again this year? For your sake and for the others who were forced to eat it, I hope her baking skills have improved.  How I would love to have up-to-date pictures of you all. I know Joanna must have had her child by now and brother Christopher must be finished university and on his way to becoming a fine lawyer.

I don’t know when and if this letter will ever reach you but if it does, please know that it is written with love for all of you. Tell my oldest brother I thank him for what he did, because it allowed me to find a place I can finally call home. Whether he planned it or not, he did the greatest favour anyone could have ever done for me.

Spread the word that I am happy and well but I miss you all. Mother, you will also be happy to learn we have a medical doctor on the island. So don’t worry if my seasonal cold erupts again, as I will be well taken care of.

Time to close this letter, but I hope we will have many opportunities to correspond. If that comes to pass, I will know my letter has reached you.

Remember me always but don’t be sad. I am very content and joyful and as I stated before, I am finally at peace with myself. Also, always remember my love for you. You will be in my thoughts and prayers every day.

With love and joy,
Quentin.

Dear Ma and Pa,

This is Wayne here, writing the letter with Wes being a pest as usual and breathing down my neck. I will let him have his turn in a bit but he is impatient and will not sit still. You will be glad to know we are both fine, so please do not worry about us.

We can’t believe it’s been almost six months since we landed here. This is a beautiful island really, and it’s starting to feel like home though, to be honest, we never thought we’d be able to survive in this place at the beginning. We have been sleeping in tents since we arrived but will only be moving into our lodge soon. It’s going to be heavenly to sleep on a proper bed once again with a solid roof over our heads.

We were miserable in the beginning; I won’t deny that. But we have got used to our lives here and it’s not that bad now. We have enough to eat and plenty to do to keep us busy. We’ve learnt so many new things too. We both have to help out in the fields where we grow our own corn and barley and potatoes and many other crops to keep us going. I never thought we would feel such a sense of satisfaction seeing our hard work pay off. I think this is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life, even better than singing.

Hi, Ma and Pa, this is Wes. I finally got Wayne to let me have my turn. We didn’t want to write two letters so that you can hear from us together and learn of all the things we do without repetition. This way we save paper, which is very precious here.

I really do miss you both, as well as everyone and everything there, and I know Wayne does too! But please don’t think that we are unhappy here. Those who got sent here with us are some of the nicest people we’ve ever met and we have made some very good friends. I know Pa would call some of them ‘solid upstanding citizens’ if he could meet them!

We have our own infirmary and our own doctor. His name is Lakota, and he is very good with medicine and knows a lot about healing and stuff.

And there is a council here, with five men who hold positions in it. They get to decide what needs to be done and to organize things, though they do not use force of any kind. They usually ask the opinions of the others and discuss options before making a decision. We think they have been fair and so far, they deal with things in a reasonable way. But they are also very strict about certain things, which involve safety and the wellbeing of the whole group.

We hear that a supply ship will come out here every few months, so we hope you will get this letter and maybe be able to send a reply to us on the next ship.

We are so sorry we let this thing happen.  We should have been more careful and heeded your warnings, but it’s too late for regrets. We just want you to know we are truly sorry, Ma and Pa, for causing you both such pain and heartache. Please forgive us!

Anyway, we want to tell you that we have both found someone real special here. Wayne’s new friend is Samuel and mine is Nathan.

Wayne wants to write some more but we need to end this letter soon. We need to conserve paper and hope that the next ship will bring us more writing material. A man here named Walker was a magistrate before he came to the island and has powerful friends. He has put together a list to be sent with the ship and he says we will be getting a fresh supply twice a year. A lot of the confiscated funds are being used to finance our needs and requests.

Wayne here again. I just want you to know that both Nathan and Samuel are good men. They take very good care of us and make sure we eat well and have enough rest. You would both like them, I am very sure of that. They are much older than Wes and me though, so maybe that’s why they are a bit bossy sometimes. But we have no complaints!

It’s so hard to end this letter; we wish we could see you and hold you but we take comfort in at least being able to send you word of our wellbeing. Wes and I love you both very, very much and think about you all the time. Please know that we have reconciled ourselves to our fates and we are now making this our home. 

Love Always,
Wayne Richard and Wesley Roy

“Now, that we’ve got that done, let’s go find our guys,” Wayne suggested, neatly folding their letter.

“Yes, Nathan promised to take me to the swimming hole.” Wes was looking forward to spending this day of rest with his partner, just relaxing in the sun and having fun in the water. “Are you coming with us?”

“No thanks. Samuel and I have made other plans.”

Samuel and Wayne had brought a picnic lunch, among other things, with them to their favorite glen a short walk from the camp.

As soon as Samuel spread out the blanket, Wayne threw himself down on it and waited impatiently for his partner to join him.

Spooning around the younger man, Samuel nibbled at Wayne’s ear. “Get your letter finished, my pet?”

“Uh-huh,” was the distracted sounding reply.

Samuel pulled Wayne closer; somehow sensing the younger man wanted to talk about something else but was having a hard time getting the words out. “What is it, my pet?” His voice was soft and tender.

Gathering as much courage as possible, Wayne murmured, “I want to feel you inside me, please.”

It took Samuel a moment or two to fully understand the request. “Baby, we don’t have to.”

“I know we don’t have to, but I want to. I’ve been talking to Lakota and he told me there are ways to be prepared.”

Samuel squeezed Wayne. “I know. He has told me how to prepare you to receive me.”

Wayne twisted around to peer into his lover’s face. “You’ve been talking to Lakota too?” he asked in surprise.

“Well, with you tensing up the couple of times we try to have anal sex, I figured I’d benefit from a medical point of view. I told him about your fears and he kindly provided me with some advice on what I could do to make it easier for you. You should know there’s nothing wrong with you being frightened, nor is there anything wrong with me picking up a few pointers on how to do it properly. I am willing to give it a try, if you are. I won’t rush you and I won’t be disappointed if we can’t do it. There are other things we can do, but if you really want me inside you, then I believe Lakota’s advice will prove to be most beneficial. Is that what you want, love?”

“Yes, I’d like that!” Wayne said softly. “I know you won’t rush me. I trust you, Samuel. There is no one in my world I trust more than you.” Suddenly he no longer felt afraid. “I-I came prepared, Samuel,” he shyly admitted and pulled a small jar of lard out of his pocket. He’d been too self-conscious to ask Lakota or Yancey for some Vaseline.

Samuel deftly removed Wayne’s clothing before quickly divesting himself of his own. Then he slowly and lovingly set about readying his lover for what would prove to be a very satisfying experience for both of them.

Seth stood off to one side of the large mess tent, watching those busy scratching out messages to send home. He heaved a sigh of resignation at having no one to write to. He walked over to the two young men cutting up vegetables for the noon meal and inquired, “Thad, how come you and Jordan aren’t writing?”

“My parents are dead and I am not about to correspond with any of my past customers. I don’t believe any of them would appreciate hearing from me anyway,” Thad answered with a smirk.

Walker helped me write a short note yesterday for my Ma to let her know I was okay. She can’t read, but I am hoping someone will read it to her,” Jordan sadly murmured.

“It least you were able to do that, and I bet she’ll be tickled to hear from you,” Seth kindly encouraged. “I don’t have anyone to write ‘cause I heard a couple of years ago that my old man had drunk himself to death and I haven’t know the whereabouts of my mother since she skipped town when I was little kid.” He picked up a knife and started helping out, figuring it was a good way to pass the time until Preston returned from selecting a spot for them to one day build their own cabin. Seth knew his partner wanted the location to be a surprise.

“Yeah, well there are several of us not sending out letters,” Thad pointed out. “Like us, Spkye, Raythe, Gille and Dallas don’t have family or friends anywhere.”

“I don’t think Mitchell, Hendrik or Brock are interested in letter writing either,” Jordan commented as he rinsed the dirt off the potatoes, covered them with fresh water and put the pot on the stove. “Any bets Brock and Raythe are off traipsing through the forest again and checking traps?”

“Good, here’s hoping they bring back plenty of fresh meat. I don’t see Nathan or Preston here, so I’d take that as a sign they either don’t have anyone waiting to hear from them or they’ve already written their letters,” Thad observed, glancing around the big tent. “And Spyke is going to get himself in trouble for getting on Walker’s nerves if he keeps on doing what he is.” He chuckled when he saw Walker smack Spyke’s hand.

“I guess it could be worse. At least some of us have someone to keep in touch with and I’m sure those that do, will share whatever news they get of the outside world,” Seth declared hopefully before adding, “You’re right about Preston writing someone. He let me see his letters. They’re to two old schoolmates and not overly personal, although he does mention me. And I overheard Nathan telling Wes he’d written his uncle and suggested he consider making arrangements for himself and his ‘friend’ to move here to the Island.”

“We’re bound to have more men arriving here over time,” Thad commented. “And I am kind of looking forward to it.”

Walker was almost finished writing out his list when he lost his temper. He had not needed the unrequested assistance from Spyke to begin with, but had allowed the young man to make suggestions for items he felt they’d be requiring in the future.

After explaining more than a sufficient number of times that the items of luxury the young man was requesting would not be forthcoming, Walker decided enough was enough. Getting to his feet, he grabbed the irritating nuisance by the collar, marched him over to the nearest corner, and with a sharp swat to Spyke’s backside, ordered, “Don’t move until I say you can!”

He walked back to his place at the table and sat down, smiling to himself when he heard Spyke grumbling and swearing under his breath.  

Several minutes later, Walker looked up and softly said, “You are free to go, Spyke.” He chuckled as he watched the young man scurrying from the tent as fast as he could. Finally finishing the list he had been working on, Walker took a fresh sheet of paper and began to write yet again.

Members of the Humanitarian Board,

My dear friends:

I can’t begin to express the gratitude all of us here on our island feel towards you for your kindness. Words do not exist to adequately thank you for assuming stewardship over the various properties some of us have left behind. Your generosity of time and energy in keeping an accounting of our needs and providing for us to the best of your ability is greatly appreciated.

Please know that we are actually thriving here. We are about to start what should be a very good harvest; enough to see us through to next spring should we exercise a few frugal measures. The ocean yields an abundance of salt water seafood and fresh fish is available in the river and lakes we have scouted out here. There is a good deal of wild game to be found and the man who has taken on the task of keeping meat on our table is well versed in conservation techniques.

You are aware of the thirty-two men who were consigned to the first ship. Only twenty-eight of us survived the voyage, and another met with a fatal accident just three months ago.

You’ll find enclosed a list of items we are in need of, or will be by the time the next supply ship arrives. Our Quartermaster works very hard at maintaining accurate inventory records and keeps me apprised of the rate at which we used various items. Also included is a list of medical supplies that will be needed in six months’ time. Our doctor, who is also an herbalist, is able to supplement what we presently have.

We are doing fairly well at keeping ourselves clothed, thanks to our tailor who seems to be constantly mending, altering, and sewing, as well as to our woodsman who furnishes a wide variety of furs. Those who arrived here with very little in the way of clothing have been completely outfitted.

A number of us are writing letters home and I wish to thank you in advance for seeing to the forwarding of these letters to the folks they are intended for.

Please know; we are all doing remarkably well considering the circumstances. We can only credit you as a board and our benefactors for being partially responsible for that.

Sincerely yours,

Walker Drummond

********************

Dear Mother and Dad,

I guess you’ve probably heard by now of my fall from grace and my exile to the island I now call home. I hope you are not too disappointed in me. I think of you and my brothers and sisters often and hope you will pass my best wishes onto them all.

I am fortunate to have found a partner who hopefully I will spend the rest of my life with. His name is Dallas and he’s had a hard life up until now. I wish I could introduce him to you, as I believe you would like him. I know Mother would want to fatten him up.

Dad, all the skills I learnt growing up have come in very handy. I would like to thank you for all the knowledge you gave me in crop growing and animal care, as they’ve proven very useful here. We have an abundance of livestock and we are presently preparing for a bountiful harvest. We had to start from scratch cutting down trees and we’re just barely completing the building of a lodge and hope to be comfortably situated in it within the couple of weeks or so.

I’ve been told that the ship carrying this letter will visit us twice a year. I hope to hear from you some day.

Your loving son,
Kevin.

Looking up and seeing Dallas restlessly pacing in the compound, Kevin smiled in anticipation of taking his partner for a walk along the shore. The young man had only recently been release from his confinement and was still a little fidgety.

Dear Mother and my little sister Ericka:

I can only imagine how surprised you must be to receive a letter from me, as under the conditions of my exile we were lead to believe no further contact between us would be possible. Well, due to the efforts of a number of good people who are working on our behalf, there will be supply ships arriving here at the island bi-annually. As a result we will be able to correspond twice yearly.

I hope you are both well and that you will get through the upcoming winter without a return of the illness that besets you each year, Mother. I myself am fine. I am blessed with being able to continue in my chosen field of nursing. I am honored to be working under no other than the famous surgeon, Doctor Lakota Evans. We operate out of a small infirmary that has been set-up here on the island.

There were twenty-eight of us exiled here, but we now number twenty-seven. We are all anxiously anticipating our move into a new lodge which is in its’ final stage of completion. We have put in a very productive summer planting crops, constructing various buildings, and what I consider most important, developing friendships. In fact, I have been most favoured in finding my soul-mate. Brodie is a wonderful young man whom I love with all my heart. We were married just last week and look forward to a lifetime together. I think you would be more than pleased with the choice I’ve made.

Yancey looked up from his letter-writing and tenderly gazed at the man across from him. He reached over to take Brodie’s left hand in his own and gently rubbed his thumb over the homemade wedding ring of braided leather. It matched the one he wore.

‘Others may not consider you flawless, my love, but I will always find you exquisite,’ Yancey thought, loving devotion shining from his dark brown eyes.

Yancey returned the grin sent his way and lifted his hand to cup his husband’s left cheek, sensitively caressing the scar there. His smile deepened when Brodie turned his head to kiss Yancey’s palm before they both returned to the letters they were busily composing.

The topic of our first Christmas has come up, making me wish there was a way to have my old guitar shipped here in time for the holidays. But alas, that is not possible. My poor young man had his stolen on the ship that brought us here. Brodie borrows one of the other chap’s now and again but would really prefer to have his own. Would you please send the one I left behind on the supply ship due next Spring? I’d appreciate it more than words can say.

Although I am more than happy and contented with my new life, I often find myself wishing I were back home with you. I miss you so very much. Take care of each other for me.

Love from your son and older brother,
Yancey

Dear Grandma:

How are you keeping? I hope you are still seeing the handsome widower down the street. I am so sorry my blunder has left you on your own, but you always were a feisty old gal so I trust you’re getting along just fine without me. I sure do miss those goodies you used to bake and the fun we had sharing them.

I am doing well, Grandma. I really am. I’ve been keeping busy and learning many new skills. I’ve even had the opportunity to teach literature to some of the gentlemen exiled here with me. They find it a relaxing change after a hard day of field or construction work. We have started harvesting and have most the new buildings up. While I’ve learned a great deal about farming, the skills involved in carpentry work still escape me. Actually, Grandma, truth be told when it comes to building materials and tools, I’m completely inept.

I have another important bit of news to share with you. I’m married! Yes, you read that correctly. Yancey is all I could have ever hoped for in a life’s companion. He is a nurse, which when you consider how accident-prone I am, is a very good thing. He’s a kind, gentle, easy-going man who makes me feel safe, cared-for and well loved. I only hope and pray I can make him as happy as he has made me. I never thought it was possible to love someone as much as I love Yancey. I think I finally understand what you and Grandpa had.

I miss you desperately, Grandma. I’d give just about anything to see you again. Hope to hear from you when the next ship comes in. Until then, I send you my love.

Your loving grandson,
Brodie

Troy stood over his red-eyed husband and waited patiently for Levi to begin the letter. The younger man had argued vehemently against writing to his parents after their angry separation when he and Troy had been caught in their homosexual relationship. However, Troy had insisted that he make at least one attempt to contact his mother and father and inform them as to his well-being. Levi’s refusal to write had cost him a sore backside and now here he was sitting on his tender bottom with pen in hand and writing the letter he had argued against.

Dear Mother and Father,

I know that receiving this letter will come as a shock to you, but Troy insisted that I write at least one time to let you know that I am well and thriving in this exile. 

I want to say once again that your callous words about Troy having corrupted me were unfounded. I realize you will find this impossible to understand, but I do love him with all my heart and that I gladly gave up the life of privilege you could provide me in order to share this life with him. 

Here on this island we can be who we are with no need to hide or fear the opinions of others. I want you both to know that I do appreciate all that you gave me. Most especially though, I thank God for the day that you hired Troy as my tutor for he brought not only education into my life, but love as well.

I have had only a few of my fits since arriving here and we are most fortunate to have a physician among our numbers who is quite learned in the area of epilepsy. So fear not for my health, I am well cared for. 

Our final parting words to each other were harsh and I regret them but I do not regret my choices. I wish you both well,

Your son,

Levi

Levi handed the letter to Troy. “That’s more than they deserve after what they said about you.”

Troy read through the brief note. “Levi, they are your parents and despite insensitive words spoken in the heat of anger and upset, you must remember that they always loved you and gave you a good home. They had every reason to be angry with me. I was in their employ and I had an intimate relationship with their son. Though like you I cannot regret my choices, I do very much regret the pain they caused. Do you understand that?”

Tears formed in Levi’s eyes and began to spill unchecked down his face. “Yes, Troy, I do understand and I’m sorry I was so difficult.”

The teacher bent over and kissed his husband’s tear stained face. “All is forgiven, my love.”

Neither Hendrik nor Mitchell had anyone to correspond with, so they willingly gave up their Sunday leisure time to work side by side sanding the stairs leading to the upper floor of the lodge. It was important to get them as smooth as possible to prevent those who insisted on going bare-foot from getting slivers. It was easier to do this than to have someone constantly reminding someone else to put their boots on.

It had been barely over two weeks since Hendrik’s surgery and thanks to their marvellous medical team, he had come through it with only a small scar on the right side of his abdomen. The ten days in the infirmary had been almost unbearable for Hendrik who was used to being very active. Although the lack of activity hadn’t been the hardest part; missing Mitchell had been very much worse.

Mitchell had spent the daylight hours working with the crew on the lodge and every second night guarding Dallas. It was on one such night, Hendrik learned the hard way that Mitchell was a man of his word. 

During the time they did have together, they had discussed at length the expectations each of them had for their newly agreed upon relationship. Both men were strong and both were stubbornly independent; Hendrik to his own detriment. He constantly pushed himself, didn’t know when to stop and refused the advice of others who might see the problem a lot clearer than he did. It was something Mitchell would no longer put up with.

Hendrik had been under doctor’s orders to stay in bed, but he had chosen to sneak out of the infirmary in the dead of night to surprise Mitchell by going to the area where Dallas was confined. His actions were in direct opposition of the council’s orders and Mitchell had certainly made his displeasure known.

The ex-cowboy gazed up at the handsome man sitting on the next step, a happy grin playing across his face as he thought of the security he felt within the boundaries they had set up and in Mitchell’s ability to keep them in place.

Meanwhile, Walker sadly shook his head as he started to write the letter he had put off as long as possible.

Mr. and Mrs. Curtis:

It is with a heavy heart that I put pen to paper at this time. I am writing to inform you of the death of your beloved son, Kelby.

Young Kelby had found a place for himself in our little community and had made many friends. He was teaching mathematics to several of the young men here who had never had the opportunity to learn before. Kelby was very much an asset to our small school.

It was on the sixteenth day of June that Kelby met with a fatal accident. He was swimming with a couple of the other lads when he fell and hit his head. There was nothing anyone could do to save him.

He was given a very respectful burial and we have faith in him resting peacefully. Trust me when I say, your son will be truly missed by each and every one of us on our little island.

On behalf of all of us, I offer you our most sincere condolences.

Yours respectfully,

Walker Drummond
Former Chief Magistrate of Kingston County

TBC….


No comments:

Post a Comment