Higher Education

Thanksgiving

by Adele


Kirk and Wade both walked down the jetway with a sense of relief. Neither of them exactly enjoyed flying. Wade did NOT have a fear of flying, but it did make him, shall we say, tense. Reasonably so, he maintained. Of course he would never consider having a drink or two to take the edge off, much less popping a couple Xanax, so the few times a year he traveled by plane he spent the majority of the trip sitting upright in his chair with his seatbelt on, jaw clenched, and eyes glued grimly to a book. He steadfastly ignored Kirk in the window seat next to him, who spent the first five minutes of the flight glorying over how small the cars looked and how cool it was to be literally in the clouds, and the remaining 145 minutes drumming his fingers on his armrests, bouncing in and out of his chair, wandering up and down the aisle, and basically doing everything but asking, "Are we there yet?" By the time they were landing at O'Hare, Wade was positive he was not the only person in their area of the plane who was struggling not to give Kirk a slap.

As they exited the jetway, a small, dark-haired woman rushed to greet them. Wade would have known right away she was Kirk's mother even if she had not immediately hugged Kirk and said, "Oh, Baby! I'm so glad you're home!" She had the same hazel eyes and quick grin as Kirk, but mostly it was her way of standing and moving that was so familiar to Wade.

Kirk endured the hug for about three seconds before pulling back and gesturing to Wade. "This is my roommate, Wade, Mom."

Wade shook Ms. Brown's hand. "I'm very pleased to meet you, Ma'am. Thank you for letting me stay with you for Thanksgiving."

"My, what nice manners!" Ms. Brown exclaimed. She glanced at Kirk mischievously and added, "He's handsome, too."

Kirk was horrified. "Mom! Shut up! You're embarrassing yourself."

Ms. Brown blushed and Wade cringed. There was an uncomfortable pause and then Ms. Brown asked, "Did you check any bags?"

"No, this is all we have," replied Kirk raising his duffle.

The three of them started walking through the terminal, the boys slightly behind Kirk's mother, following her lead.

"Do you remember where you parked the car?" Kirk asked.

"Yes, I'm in Lot B," Ms. Brown replied.

"Oh, that's real helpful." Kirk turned to Wade, "My mom could lose her car parking in someone's driveway. I'm serious. One time she actually reported her car stolen to security when it was just on the other side of the mall."

Wade said, "I need to make a quick detour," and turned toward one of the enormous, elaborate restrooms that airports always seemed to have. As he expected, Kirk went along with him. The bathroom was gleaming, completely automated, and also deserted. They used the urinals side by side in silence and then both gave their hands a perfunctory wash. Kirk tossed his paper towel in the trash and turned to the door, but Wade caught his arm stopping him from leaving.

"You need to quit talking to your mom that way."

Kirk was caught off-guard and seemed honestly confused. "What? What way?"

"Kirk, you're being totally obnoxious to her!"

"This is how we always are. We always talk this way," Kirk protested.

Wade thought Kirk's use of "we" in that defense was neither fair nor accurate, but Wade just said, "I don't like it."

Kirk's face hardened. "How I talk to my mom is none of your business."

Wade raised his eyebrows. "You want to reconsider that statement?"

For a minute Kirk looked like he was going to apologize, but then his expression changed. He put on the confident attitude mask he wore when he was playing pool or giving a speech, or pretty much anytime he was with someone other than Wade or Jane and said coolly, "No, I don't think I do." Then he pulled his arm out of Wade's grasp and walked away leaving Wade standing there dumbfounded.

Wade took a second to put his own unruffled mask back together before following after Kirk. The three exited the terminal and found Ms. Brown's car without too much difficulty. It was only one aisle over from where she thought it would be. The drive to Kirk's childhood home in Beverly took a little less than an hour. Kirk and Wade told funny stories about college life and Ms. Brown updated Kirk on the whereabouts of his old friends from high school. All three laughed a lot, but every so often Kirk would make a crack about his mom's driving or tell a story that was more mean-spirited than humorous and Wade would see a little tightening around Ms. Brown's eyes and hear a small sigh.

Kirk grew up in a nice older home on a tree-lined street. Kirk's room had clearly not been changed in the slightest since he had left for college. Wade smiled at the debate trophies and medals still displayed on the top of the dresser.

"You'll be sleeping right down the hall," Ms. Brown said. Wade followed her to a perfectly pleasant, if neutral and impersonal, guest room.

"This is great," Wade said with a warm smile and was rewarded by seeing a happy light in Ms. Brown's eyes, at least until Kirk muttered, "Suck up".

They had spaghetti with homemade meat sauce for dinner. It was delicious. Even Kirk didn't have anything negative to say. After dinner they played a couple games of Hearts. The trash talk Kirk and his mother kept going throughout the games made Wade uncomfortable, but at least Ms. Brown gave as good as she got in this situation. She won both games too, with almost no assistance from Wade beyond his not trying very hard. For Wade, keeping track of the cards played was as natural and automatic as breathing.

After the games, Ms. Brown said good night and Wade and Kirk went upstairs. Wade showered first and then hung out in Kirk's room while Kirk showered. Wade was lounging on Kirk's bed, but he sat up when Kirk entered the room wearing nothing but a towel wrapped around his waist and drying his shaggy hair with a second towel.

"I like your mom," Wade said, "I don't like how you treat her though."

"Are you still pissed about that? Sorry," Kirk said from beneath the towel not sounding very sorry at all.

"Kirk!" Wade snapped with the sharp tone that never failed to capture Kirk's attention. This time was no exception. Kirk lowered the towel to his shoulders and looked at Wade, half wary, half expectant.

"Come here."

Kirk took a step forward obeying automatically before he caught himself and stopped. He backed up three steps then whined, "Aw, Wade, we're on vacation."

"We're on vacation from school," Wade said seriously, "I didn't think we were on a vacation from us."

"Not from us...just from...*that*."

"*That* is part of us." When Kirk did not respond Wade repeated in a much gentler voice, "Come here."

Kirk looked miserable. "Wade, I can't. Not here, in this room. Look around you! If you..." Kirk had to force the word out, "If you spank me in this room it will make me feel like a little kid."

"OK." Wade thought for a second then suggested, "What about the room where I'm sleeping?"

Kirk's first impulse was to reject the idea of course, but he made himself consider it. The guest room had always been a guest room, so he had never spent much time in there. More importantly, the room was so nondescript it could have been anybody's room anywhere, even a motel room. Kirk couldn't honestly argue that getting spanked there would be any worse than getting spanked anywhere else. "I guess that would be ok," he admitted grudgingly.

Wade got up and walked around Kirk and out into the hall. He looked back at Kirk, who hadn't moved. Kirk sighed and trudged after him. Wade went into the guest room and assessed his options. There was no solid wooden desk or sturdy desk chair here. The bed was wider and higher than the beds in the dorms. Finally, Wade sat on the edge of the bed with his right foot flat on the floor. He bent his left leg and turned slightly so his thigh was on the bed almost paralleling the edge and his left foot was dangling. For the third time that night he ordered, "Come here."

Kirk had closed the door behind him and then stopped barely inside the room with his hand still resting on the doorknob. He tried one last time to come up with some argument that would convince Wade not to do this, but his mind was empty of everything except the sick feeling of knowing Wade was disappointed in him. Kirk gave up. He let go of the doorknob and his last hope of escape. Head down, he moved within Wade's reach.

Wade guided Kirk between his legs and encouraged Kirk to bend over his thigh. Kirk's upper body rested on the bed, but the height of Wade's leg on top of the mattress forced Kirk up onto his toes a little bit and he was uncomfortably aware that his ass was the highest part of his body presenting an easy target. Wade clamped his arm around Kirk's waist and worked the edge of the towel loose to remove it. Too late, Kirk swung a hand back to try to save his covering. He burst out, "What if my mom comes in?"

"Your mom make a habit of walking in on your guests without knocking?"

"No, but . . ."

"I think it's interesting that you didn't seem to be worried about your mom walking in on you getting spanked, but the woman who changed your diapers seeing your bare butt, now that's a problem for you."

"Wade!"

Wade finally relented and reminded Kirk, "Your mom is way downstairs and asleep. She is not going to come in, OK?"

"OK"

Immediately, Wade laid into Kirk with a shocking ferocity. The sound of Wade's palm smacking against Kirk's flesh was awfully loud in Kirk's ears and the force of the blows seemed excessive for an offense that was really just ordinary mouthiness. More than the pain, though it certainly hurt, it was Wade's obvious anger that had Kirk frantically thrusting his hand back to protect himself and calling out, "Wait!"

The desperation in Kirk's voice was a red flag to Wade. He froze with his hand in the air.

"Why are you so mad about this?" Kirk asked.

"Because I told you I didn't like it, I asked you to stop and you ignored me. And because the Kirk I know - the Kirk I love - would not talk to his mother that way."

Kirk didn't say anything. After a long silence Wade asked, "Now do you understand?"

"Yes," Kirk whispered.

"Good."

Wade went back to spanking. Kirk buried his face in the boring, beige comforter and took the rest of the punishment without a sound.

When Wade's temper finally cooled, he lifted Kirk's hips and slid out from under him, swinging Kirk's legs up onto the bed at the same time. Kirk did not stay lying down for very long. He sat up on the bed with only the slightest wince, retrieved his towel and draped it across his lap, and then just sat there looking completely dejected. "I'm sorry," he said and this time his sincerity was unmistakable.

Wade nodded, but Kirk's eyes were lowered so he didn't see. Wade put a hand under Kirk's chin and gently raised his face. Wade looked at Kirk's teary eyes, started to say something, changed his mind and kissed Kirk firmly on the mouth. Kirk felt the horrible sick feeling in his stomach ease just a little.

The next day was Thanksgiving. A couple who were friends with Ms. Brown came over for the feast bringing wine and pumpkin pie. They had two kids, David, a Senior in high school, and Lori, a Sophomore. Kirk and Wade helped Ms. Brown in the kitchen. Kirk was polite and courteous without being obsequious and even he could see that his mother did, in fact, appreciate the difference. Kirk sat next to Wade at the table and was his usual entertaining, smart-ass self, but without the careless cruelty that he sometimes exhibited. Wade didn't talk much, just ate, complimented the food, bumped his knee against Kirk's and smiled at him with obvious affection and, more importantly to Kirk, approval.

On Friday, Kirk took Wade out to meet some of his old friends who were also in town for the holiday. They went to a pool hall / bar that allowed anyone over 18, and Wade and Kirk dominated at doubles Eight-ball. Saturday they slept in and relaxed. In the afternoon Wade read a book in the guest room to give Kirk and Ms. Brown some mother-and-son time. Then it was time to pack up to catch their flight that evening.

Walking back through the terminal Wade saw a little combination gift shop and newsstand, and nudged Kirk. "Go get something to keep yourself occupied on the trip back."

"I've got a book."

"Yeah, which you haven't cracked since we left. Get something that will actually distract you."

"I don't need - oooh they have logic puzzles!" Kirk went off to choose from the selection of Dell puzzle magazines.

Ms. Brown laid a hand on Wade's arm. "I'm so glad you came, and I finally got to meet you. I feel better knowing Kirk has you with him at college. You're good for him."

Wade looked at Kirk intent on trying to decide between the two top contenders, grinned and said honestly, "He's good for me too."

~ Adele

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