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As I sat back down at the fire, Lucas looked at me with a reassuring look. “You okay, Jamie?”
“I will be, Lucas, I will be. But now, not so much.” I just stared into the fire and slid down my chair for a bit, the hum of conversation around me fading into silence as my thoughts took over.
It had been hard to tell Sam all of that, but it was something I needed to do. I was sure that we would always be close, if not together – which I do want – but also was not going to ask Sam to wait. It’s not right, too, and fuck, now, I couldn’t – not after Josh.
Okay, I’m not a guy that has double standards. I do, though, just tend to fuck up a lot – love that self-destruct relationship button. So, if Sam is keen to do something when I get back, okay; if not, I’ll have to settle for very close friends – on the same level as Gav, Dave and Adam, I hope. It’s my mess – I have to live with the consequences.
Movement to my side bought me out of my inner world as Lucas passed me a can of soda. I smiled and mouthed ‘thanks’. Lucas was looking at me with his concerned face on – I’m guessing he knew I was deep in self-torment and filled with doubts after the call from home.
Sipping the opened can, I slid deeper into the chair, looking up at the darkened sky. “Lucas. The sky looks amazing, like black ink, with diamonds scattered all over, you reckon?”
Lucas nodded. “It’s beautiful out here. Hey, how are you doing buddy?” Lucas could read me like a book and I knew my emotions were on display now. I couldn’t help it – it was overwhelming. I looked at Lucas, forming the words in my throat. “Um…I”
“Hey Jamie,” one of the guys across from me, Mike, called out. The two of us looked over towards Mike.
“We’re all heading up to the observatory in a little bit. Y’all are welcome to ride up with us if you like. Our camper is all set, so we don’t have to pack up like you guys. Y’a can catch a lift with us.”
I turned to Lucas, opening my mouth and was about to correct Mike about the brother thing. Lucas gently shook his head for a second mouthing ‘it’s okay – let it go.’ People just assume that we’re brothers – I guess the family resemblance is strong enough to confuse most.
“We’d love that, Mike. Thanks’.” Lucas smiled back at him.
Rolling around in my camping swag, I could hear Lucas’ gentle snoring beside me. I unzipped the side a little, looking out. It was a beautiful clear morning. Just after sunrise, the morning star was still visible. I just lay there for an hour and watched the sunrise, taking in the beauty of another day, determined that I needed to get my life in order.
After an hour spent saying goodbye to our new friends, it was time to head off to the Hoover Dam and Las Vegas for the night. We headed out along the highway towards the Hoover Dam. While the countryside is more like Western or South Australia, not around my parts, but still that familiar semi-arid look, it was comforting.
“Hey, Lucas!” I Iooked over to see what my navigator was up-to – he’d been quiet for a while and he was napping. I shook my head. ‘That guy could sleep on a wire fence, I swear.’ We’d only been on the road for a little bit, but the warmth of the truck and gentle rocking had put him off to sleep. I laughed a little and settled back into driving. ‘I think I like the lower states – they remind me of home.’ I knew he was asleep, and I was talking to myself, but what the hell. As I stared out the windshield taking in the panorama that was unfolding all-round me, I settled back to enjoy the scenery for the next three hours. I slipped my earbuds in and cranked up my playlist. The music flowed through me, ok, and I started to sing along too. You know that feeling you get when the sun is gently shining on you, the scenery all around is interesting, almost inviting. This truck was making the miles just melt away. I looked over at sleeping beauty. Luckily my singing wasn’t too loud, bad, but not loud. He wasn’t waking anytime soon.
“Oi, sleeping beauty – we’re here.”
A groggy, sleepy Lucas started to stir. “Where are we, Jamie?”
“Shit, really – you don’t recognise this place – really?”
Lucas slid upright in the seat, looking out the windshield, “Oh Fuck! Hoover Dam!”
“Dammmmm… you’re a clever one there, buddy.” My pun about Damn-dam was lost on him. I laughed at my joke anyway.
We made our way after asking around for directions to the start point of the tour through the Power Plant. Then I was off to enjoy the mid-afternoon heat of the valley on a canoe ride along part of the river, then stooping it off with a cooldown swim in Lake Mead late in the day. The heat was really starting to kick in. Fuck, it was hot well into triple digits!!
After cooling off a bit in the water, I looked across the shoreline a bit. “Hey Lucas, look… those guys skiing. Reckon we could find out if there is any space on the hire boat?”
“Shit yeah! Can’t have a day out at the lake without a ski – that’s a güvenilir bahis mistake we’re never going to come back from. Let’s wander over and have a look-see.”
As we made our way over to where the boat was launching from. I heard the unmistakable Aussie accent drifting over every now and then. I smiled and nodded to Lucas in the direction of the guys on the beach.
Lucas walked over and spoke to the driver of the boat while I made my hellos to the people on the bank.
Lucas came jogging back up to me. “Jamie, the driver said they were about to pack it up for the day. These guys are all skied out. We can go now if we want – they’re pretty cool about it. Let’s go!”
“Yes, fantastic!” I hurriedly said my goodbyes and headed down to the boat. “Do they have spare gear? Want me to run back up to the truck and grab our wetsuits, Lucas?” I was like a kid all excited and wanted to get this boat on the water.
“You packed our wetsuits?” Lucas shot me a confused but happy look, “Damn Jamie, that’s a good move!” he exclaimed, pulling me into a side hug.
As I arrived at the boat, Lucas made all the introductions. The driver and spotter wanted to know if we’d done much skiing before. Winking at each other slyly, we both said we were novices. “Can we ski two-up, you-know, for support?”
“Sure, no problems guys. Just tell us if you’ve had enough or if the speed is good, okay?” Pete our driver asked, giving us the run through on how to start in the water, hand signals etc.
Once we were pulled up and skiing along, there was a long glassy smooth patch of water coming up Lucas spotted. “Jamie, wanna have a barefoot, buddy?”
“Sure,” I laughed. “The guys on the boat are not going to know what hit them. How about you head out a bit of the wake and signal me when you’re ready, Lucas, then we can step off at the same time.”
“You’re on.” Lucas flashed a broad smile. I don’t think he’s had much of a chance to ski for a while.
Every opportunity we get, he’s so up for it. So, after a flurry of hand signals to the boat driver, who was reluctant to speed up at first, we finally reached the speed needed to step off. These guys were good operators and could see when we signaled up past what would be normal fast skiing, plus starting to crouch down, they got that we weren’t what we’d pretended to be. Pete and his offsider were enjoying the show we put on for all.
The guys in the boat knew we’d played them, and were laughing it up too. It was a fantastic way to round out the day. Pete, who was originally from the Gold Coast – Queensland, and his girlfriend that ran the tour boat and ski school, were from Las Vegas, so we planned to catch them a little later that night at one of the casinos.
The only downside was when we got back from a few ski runs: the guys on the beach had some ice-cold beers out and wanted to play. I thought it might be a good idea to sit this one out and just head in to Las Vegas, get set up and go for some dinner tomorrow night. Lucas was pissed – he wanted to play, but was okay with it eventually, kinda.
All the way back in the truck it was the same line repeated in various ways: Lucas reminded me that I was going to have to make it up along our trip, because our first night in Las Vegas would be quiet with a few beers and dinner – “Really, Jamie, is that the best we can do?” Lucas wanted to paint the place red on our first night in Las Vegas.
Finally pulling into our apartment in Las Vegas for the night, we were both like little kids still over excited about our day out at the Dam and Lake Meade. And as for the quiet night, okay, we made up for it the next two though – they weren’t so quiet. I’ve never been to so many Casinos and bars in my life. It was awesome, and yes, no social fails either!
Lucas, although, did well – very well – with his new friend, Jessica, heading home somewhere between Casino number three or four. I had the job of picking him up from Jessica’s place the following morning after packing our stuff up and checking out. He managed to get out of that lightly.
I wasn’t pissed with Lucas leaving me with all the work that morning: it was a fun night. I’d had a few offers but kindly turned them down, so if I’d wanted to play up, I had the opportunity to.
Arriving to collect my very hungover cousin the next day, I did the right thing and came bearing coffee and pastry. “Morning, Lucas. Here…” and stuck the coffee at him.
“Shhh, don’t be so loud, you ass!” Someone looked like death warmed up, I smirked.
“Nice way to say ‘hi’ Lucas,” I grinned at him, and got a ‘fuck off, Jamie’ mouthed at me as Lucas said his goodbyes and promised to call Jessica, before quickly scrambling into the quiet of the truck and off down the highway.
“Guess I’m driving for a bit, Lucas?”
“Please. I’m going to just pass out here and die for a while. See you in the white light.”
“Hmm, big night, huh?”
Lucas just looked at me with that half-asleep smile. türkçe bahis “It was a great night,” and blew me a kiss.
Two coffee stops, four play lists, seven slaps to Lucas’ face with no result while he was passed out, and almost four and three quarter hours later, we pulled into Phoenix, AZ.
It was time for Lucas to wake up. Gentle slaps to the face were not doing it, plus, he’d wriggled across the seat some and was leaning the other way, so his face was out of easy striking range.
‘Hmm, I guess I could be an adult and just gradually call his name in ever increasing volume, but where’s the fun in that?’ Pulling an ‘oops’ face, I reflected, ‘Seriously Jamie, if people ever find out that you’re having the odd conversation with yourself, might finally get you committed.’
Ah-ha, I know exactly what do to: I reached over, aiming for his nipple. Yep!
A quick pinch and I retracted my hand at light speed. “Oh, and sleeping beauty finally wakes.”
“Ah, where are we, Jamie?” Lucas slowly stretched to life, rubbing the sleep from his eyes and his strongly sore nipple.
“Tucson, AZ!” I said with a hint of a smile, on both counts.
“WHAT?” Lucas sat up like someone stuck a cracker up his butt. “I thought we were stopping in Phoenix. What the fuck Jamie?”
“Nah, I’m only play ‘n with ya. We’re in Phoenix.” I playfully slapped him on the arm as we slowed, looking for the apartment block.
“Come on – move your butt so we can check into the apartment quickly. I’ve had enough of driving to last me for the day. The sooner we get done, we can walk down to ‘Wet ‘n’ Wild’. It’s only a 20 minute walk, bud, I’m sure.”
“Frick’n awesome! I could do with a swim!” he exclaimed, as Sleeping Beauty paused for a moment, looking outside the truck. “Wow, it looks hot out! What’s the temp, Jamie?”
“Yeah, it’s a bit warm – the temp has been on a steady rise since 10am leaving Las Vegas. It’s now a summery 110F out.” I raised my own eyebrows at that – it seemed so much hotter saying it, after watching the outside temp rise steadily, plus the public heat weather warnings popping up too. “I know I’m from Australia, but yeah, that’s getting there in the hot stakes, buddy.”
“Sweet Jeez, can we just drive please to the theme park? I’m gonna melt walking in that heat in my condition.” Lucas turned on the sympathy face.
“Okay, for fuck’s sake. Let’s unload at the apartment then head on over. I think we can call the whole ‘you owe-me-I-owe-you’ bullshit square now Lucas, okay?”
“Alright, but you’re taking advantage of my condition, though,” he pouted with a disgruntled look on his face.
“Your self-inflicted condition, of drinking too much booze and going home with Jessica, you mean?”
“Yeah, that’s the one,” he chuckled, with an eat-shit grin on his face.
“So, what’s Ryan gonna think of you hooking up with someone?” No sooner had I said that, I just bit down on my lip – idiot-Jamie-idiot, Jeez!
Lucas shot me a ‘you-can’t-be-serious’ look, but didn’t go on with it, “Okay, so my new all grown up Jamie still has a few kinks to work out, I guess. Sorry, Lucas – that was uncalled for.” I said looking down at the floor somewhere.
“All good, you idiot.”
That got me a backhanded slap on my chest and a quick pinch of my nipple “Ouch!” He must have remembered that, bugger! I thought I got away with it, ha-ha.
“Look, there it is!” Lucas pointed thirty yards along the roadway.
“Yeah, that’s the apartment complex. Great.” I steered the truck into the carpark, switching it off.
We had our stuff out of the truck and in the room in record time. In under an hour we’d unpacked, showered and changed into our swim gear – also threw a change of clothes in the truck for afterward, just in case we wanted to head straight out.
We must have looked a treat: we both looked like tightrope walkers on an imaginary line across to the truck. My well-learned trick childhood trick during long hot Australian summers of walking barefoot on the painted lines and spotting in the shadows across the carpark like land bridges came in handy.
“Hey Jamie, remember when we were kids, we’d pretend that the hot spots of the pavement were filled with alligators and the shadows and lines were islands or docks, we had to jump between without getting -”
“Eaten!” we said in unison.
So, after navigating the carpark alligators, I climbed into my truck. “Oh fuck!” I said louder than intended. You could almost hear the sizzle of my ass and back of my legs burning on the hot seats of the truck. Yes, I left the side windows down so the truck didn’t reach over temp, but forgot about the seats heating up. Idiot!
Lucas laughed and shook his head at me, “Obviously if you’d listened to Josh some, instead of trying to jump on him, you would have learned about the remote start feature of your truck, Jamie, and the climate control kicking in to cool the cab before we get in.”
“Smartass,” I güvenilir bahis siteleri said under my breath, lifting my legs up and down, “I’ve gotta grab a towel to sit on, I can’t sit on these seats. Fuck it!”
After spreading a towel on the seat and refraining from punching Lucas who was taking great delight in laughing at me, we headed off towards Wet-n-Wild. “Hey Lucas, what do you think? An awesome way to spend the afternoon and sunset buddy?”
In no time at all, we pulled up at the water park and repeated the carpark dance again. “Gotta find my Havaianas. Where the hell did we lose them, Lucas? You lost yours too, yeah?”
“Fuck knows how we do this sometimes, Jamie.” We both laughed as we arrived at the ticket booth. The look on the cashier’s face was priceless. I shook my head.
“Yeah, gotta give it to you Jamie. I was all for just staying in our room for the afternoon and emerging in the cool of night, but this is awesome, running back and forth from pool to slide and back again. When we grow up and have kids of our own, we’ll have to make sure there is a water park nearby.”
“Ha-ha, and we’re in the same hemisphere too, would be a help,” I said, grinning at Lucas, while floating around in the pool inflatable, waiting for tonight’s movie to start up. “Wow – look at the skyline – it’s changed to a beautiful pallet of color, red, pink and orange,” I marvelled as the sun was slipping down below the horizon.
“Yeah,” I floated over to where Lucas was.
“Do you want to have kids one day?”
The look full of expectation on Lucas’ face was cute. “Yeah course I do, but it would be wrong for us to, you know, being closely related and all.” The look of confusion on Lucas’ face morphed into a smile.
“I didn’t know what the hell you were talking about at first, plus you’d be the one pregnant – not me, Jamie.”
I laughed,” Imagine the cash we could make, right! We’d be rich! But seriously, I want to start a family in the future before that idiot Mason does. Would be good, but I’m not going to rush it. I’ll admit that I’m not mature enough to parent at the moment, but find the right guy, and I’d be set.”
“Guess I’ll have to find a nice girl to settle down with or-”
“Or surrogate, you know.” Lucas was looking a little unsure of himself, “If your or my partner was unable to have children, you know. I’m not trying to be a dick or anything, just, you know, say’n.”
“Chill buddy, I get it. I don’t think they allow surrogacy in OZ, so I’d have to do it here or adopt. But I have thought about it, you’d be ok here in the States.”
“You’d make a great dad one day, Jamie. Your kids would never be bored, that’s for sure.” Lucas laughed.
“Can you imagine, if we both had kids that were close in age like us two. Oh my god, the trouble that they could get up too… like us all over again.” I slapped Lucas on the shoulder and smiled. His flotation chair spun around, so I had to wait a rotation to continue.
“Yeah, that would be funny. My kids could visit their Aussie cousins and swap holidays between the US and Australia.” I grabbed Lucas’ floating chair it was driving me nuts turning around.
“But they’d have to school here, you guys spell color and tire the weirdest way,” Lucas smirked.
“Piss off. You Americans mangle the English language.” I replied with an indignant look on my face.
“Right, and the Spence family down under is such a well-spoken lot too. You don’t realize how differently y’all speak to Gav and the rest. It’s like American, the vernacular with an Aussie accent, just plain weird.” Lucas teased, poking his tongue out.
It was like a tidal wave had just swept over the pool as a sea of kids surged in to get ready for the movies to start. “Too many kids now, Lucas. I think they must be shutting some of the rides and getting everyone here for the movies to start. Wanna go and get changed?”
I didn’t even wait for the words to fully leave his lips. “Lets. Leg it.” Seems my Australian-eez had rubbed off on Lucas more than he thought. We made a beeline for our locker and the changerooms, only to be greeted by a horde of children and parents trying to organise them. It was like an annual cat roundup – kids going everywhere.
I couldn’t help but laugh. “Hey Lucas, let’s just grab our stuff and wrap towels around us and get cleaned up back that the apartment?”
And with that, we made our way out the gate, back to the truck. This time I used the remote start on the truck and opened the windows, so we didn’t almost vaporize when we first opened the truck up.
It hadn’t taken much to let the heat escape the cabin, plus running the climate control on flat out with the windows down for a few moments to air it out had us on our way quickly. “See, I was listening to Josh, smartass Lucas.” I still think I’ll have burn imprints on my legs for a few weeks from earlier though.
“Lucas,” I yelled out as I walked into the bathroom of our apartment, turning to face him and smiled, “you’re in charge of the entertainment tonight, okay? Sports bar to start with, then I wanna see some entertainment.” I was stripping off my trunks and waiting for him to get his ass out of the shower.
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