My Brother-in-Law Channing Dukebyperihelion©
It started with the telephone call from Corinne at ten on a Sunday morning, morning for me but late afternoon in Baghdad where she was stationed as an army nurse.
"Colin, is that you?"
"Yeah, Corinne, I'm glad you called. I've been thinking a lot about you the last few days. You know; the twin connection. I figured something must be going on with you this week."
She laughed. "You must've had a bunch of twinges lately. I've been busy as hell. And I just got married."
I almost dropped the phone in shock. Corinne married?! I was the only member of my family, one of only a select few in the world that knew Corinne was a lesbian. I knew something was wrong, bad wrong, and it probably had to do with her military status.
"What happened?" I managed to squeak out.
"Life happened. Love. The bluebird of happiness."
That definitely settled it. The bluebird of happiness was part of our twin code, had been a phrase we used from early childhood, and we only said it when we actually meant 'the bluebird of happiness has just shit on me'. Corinne and I grew up children of a strict Southern Baptist minister and we were very limited in how openly we could express our true feelings. We learned to use a language of our own in which what was said was often the exact opposite of what was meant.
"Really? So when did the bluebird fly over, Corinne?"
"About three weeks ago."
"And who's your new hubby, sweetie?"
"He's Channing Birmingham Duke, a major in the army here and you'll really like him, Colin, really, really like him. He's a super guy and I've told him all about you."
I could read between the lines. She'd told him I'm gay and apparently he was okay with it. I wondered what else she'd told him.
"I'm glad for you, Corinne. Is he a doctor?"
She snorted. "Colin, are you crazy? What makes you think I'd marry a doctor? Come on now!"
"Well, you're a nurse, sis. I just figured..."
She giggled. "How many times have I told you doctors make lousy husbands? They think they're god, they don't have a life other than medicine, and the list just goes on and on. Working with them is enough for me, thank you. No, Channing's an engineer."
"That's different... How old is he? What does he look like? Where's he from?"' I laughed. "I mean, with a name like Birmingham, dare I hope for England?"
"Jesus, slow down, Colin! Do you want his shoe size, too?"
I snickered. "If you know it, which I bet you don't."
She laughed. "You bastard. He wears a size fourteen boot and he's got nice looking feet for a guy."
"How charming. You play with his feet a lot?"
"Jerk. He fell off a ladder when these bastards over here bombed the building next to where he was working. He broke his foot and I was the nurse who took care of him in the hospital."
"Well, I'm glad you appreciate his feet. Does the rest of him work okay, the brain in particular?"
Corinne chuckled. "Everything works just fine. And I hate to disappoint you. He's not from merry old England; he's from Birmingham, Alabama."
"Lawdy, lawdy, Miz Corinne, ya'll done married a son of the Confederacy? I thought your plan was to move to the civilized world when you get out of the army. Alabama barely qualifies as a part of the third world."
Corinne and I were born in Los Angeles, California while our father was an associate pastor of a huge church there. Dad transferred to a small community in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia when we were fourteen and we weren't too happy about it. To be fair, it's a beautiful place but to a teenager it just didn't measure up to the glory of Hollywood, at least not at first. The main reason for the move was because I'd been caught naked, fucking Ruth, the senior pastor's daughter, in her bedroom at the parsonage. This was during my phase of trying hard to pass as a heterosexual. The real scandal was the marijuana and cocaine on Ruth's dresser. It was hers but she blamed me and with my dick swinging in the breeze while her father screamed at me, my honesty was not the focal point of the conversation.
Three weeks later Dad moved us to Georgia to get away from the wickedness of Los Angeles, also to escape a fast growing move by the congregation to 'clean house' of the existing pastoral staff, one that had seen more than a few scandals. The senior pastor thought Dad transferring to Georgia would save his own career but a few weeks later he transferred to North Dakota when Ruth was hospitalized for an accidental cocaine drug overdose. The news of it made Georgia seem even more appetizing as it drove home to me how relieved I was to be out of the political warfare. Mega church politics can be nastier than anything in Washington, D.C. and even the children of the ministers are under a spotlight that's too hot.
When Corinne and I graduated we both went to university in New York City. She studied nursing at Columbia University; I studied accounting and economics at Queens College. She became an army surgical nurse and I became a certified public accountant, hired by a prestigious Wall Street law firm that specialized in banking and financial law. We both wanted careers that had nothing to do with religion and would get us out of the South, away from our family. We'd succeeded in our desires and were no longer under our father's thumb but there was a big difference in the freedom she and I now enjoyed. Corinne was free to return home for visits, welcomed and wanted. I'd been disowned by everyone in the family except Corinne after my father caught me naked in bed with a man. I've been shunned ever since and my family will only refer to it in whispered voices as 'Colin's homosexual incident'.
"Just because I married Channing doesn't mean we're going to move to Alabama. That's never going to happen."
"Yeah, well, better you than me. He'd need a dick like a thoroughbred stallion to make me consider living in Alabama."
"Well, honey chile, y'all ain't gonna never need to worry about it cause y'all ain't gonna get near it."
"Worry about what, sugar? His dick or Alabama?"
"Oh god, Colin, talking to you is like I'm in the real world again, the world where people are fun, where life is fun. You wouldn't believe the shit I've gone through over the last couple of weeks. I'll give you all the details when I'm home in a few months. It's not telephone safe stuff. Anyway, I'm not sure I'd have made it through it all and stayed sane without Channing. He's a living doll and you're really going to love him."
So there it was. Corinne did have problems but we'd deal with all that later. At that moment I just wanted to tease her about her marriage and her new man.
"What kind of name is Channing Birmingham? I just can't visualize snuggling up in bed next to Birmingham."
"Oh, you'd snuggle up to this guy if his name was Hezekiah, trust me. I know your taste in men. Maybe Channing is a city, just like Birmingham. How the hell would I know where he got his damn name from? It's just a name, for god's sake, and it fits him like a glove."
"Now, now, that doesn't sound too romantic to me, sis. You know his boot size and don't know how he got his name? I can see I need to give you a few lessons in romantic love."
"No thanks, Colin. Your idea of romantic love doesn't appeal to me. Being on my knees in front of a guy sucking his dick is not my idea of a dream date."
I cleared my throat loudly. "Oh, I get it. He didn't get into your pants until the wedding night, huh? You didn't even let him get a little nooky in the bushes before you said I do."
"Like I said, lessons in your idea of romance are the last thing I need, darling. Anyway, it's too dangerous to have sex in the bushes in Iraq. Come to think of it, the only bushes I see over here are made of pubic hair."
I groaned. "Oh, shit. The more I hear, the more I'm visualizing Major Duke as the spitting image of Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame. This poor guy has never even had sex with you. Back up a little bit here. Remember I asked you earlier about how his brain functioned? Does his dick work, or did he break that, too, when he got blown off the ladder?"
She snorted. "His brain and his dick work just fine for your information."
"What can I say; it's a wartime love story. Did you tell him he'd better be happy with a woman who can't cook, can't keep house, and views sex as just another biological function like taking a shit? I hope his favorite meal is Ramen noodles in a Styrofoam cup in the microwave. That's the extent of your chef skills."
Corinne laughed. "We haven't gotten that far in the relationship. We still rely on the military for our meals."
"Sounds delicious. Well, hopefully he can cook like Colonel Sanders or he'll starve unless you two plan to live on takeout and microwave meals. Confess to me, sis, and be honest. Does he have white hair and a beard?"
"You'll cum in your pants when you first lay eyes on him. It makes me a little nauseous to think you're probably going to masturbate all the time visualizing my husband and me in bed."
"Tsk, tsk, tsk," I clicked my tongue. "You insist on tempting me into sin, sis. You think he might be interested in a threesome?"
"Not likely. I think his idea of sexual experimentation is letting the female fuck on the top occasionally. So far he's strictly a missionary fuck kind of guy."
I hooted with laughter. "So you two pray before you fuck? I take it back; don't even consider a threesome with me included."
Corinne giggled. "He's not like Michael. I don't think he's ever going to do us both at the same time."
"So when do I get to meet your new squeeze? You guys coming home soon?"
"We've been promised leave two months from now. They're not going to let us out because they need our skills too much. We've both been extended again."
I gasped. "Surely you're not gonna to do that, Corinne! You've been there for thirteen months this time and it was a whole fucking year the time before that. You need to get the hell out of there."
She sighed. "Well, they claim it's ending, Colin. I'm working on it. Of course, every time I get depressed about it all I have to do is think of Dad and the church. That's enough to make me want to re-enlist for six more years. I'm just glad Channing can go home on leave with me. I'd hate for one of us to go home and the other stay here."
We chatted for about half an hour and it was my last conversation with her. The following week I got a call from my older brother telling me Corinne had been killed in an explosion in Baghdad. It was just a routine trip from point A to point B, nothing special. Something she did every day but on that fateful day an improvised explosive device completely destroyed the vehicle she was travelling in, killing her and two other occupants, along with six civilians who were at the intersection. I collapsed in tears, grief stricken at the loss of my twin. My brother Kurt had been sympathetic when he called, knowing I'd feel Corinne's loss more than anyone else in the family. I immediately made arrangements to fly to Atlanta.
I dreaded the trip and not just because I was burying the other half of my soul. I was venturing back to a place I hadn't returned to in four years. I have two older siblings, a brother, Kurt, five years older than I am, and a sister, Karen, three years older. Kurt and Karen are both married, both have three children, and both have sticks so far up their asses they've got splinters in their teeth.
Kurt's got a Ph.D. in music ministry and is the minister of music at a large Baptist church in Macon, Georgia where he and his wife Arlene are pillars of the community. Arlene teaches music at a local private school and until 'the homosexual incident' I'd maintained a civil relationship with Kurt. I hadn't spoken to him in years and honestly, I was surprised he even called me to tell me about Corinne.
My sister Karen is married to Dick Winters, a pious ass who went to pharmacy school with her. She works as a pharmacy manager for a Walgreen's Pharmacy in Atlanta and hubby Dick works for a mail order prescription service. I really got on their shit list when, strictly joking, I commented that Dick wasn't competent enough to work in a real pharmacy. Their rage was so over the top it was obvious I'd hit a raw nerve. I googled Dick on the internet and discovered a long record of disciplinary actions including a couple of serious warnings for prescription errors. The next time I saw him and he made a nasty crack to me, I asked if planned make meth in a trailer to support his family when he lost his license. That comment totally ended my relationship with them. The homosexual incident just drove more nails into the coffin.
Dad's a retired pastor now, after thirty five years with him as an active pastor and Mom as the church pianist and resident saint. Dad still fills in when he's needed but now his and Mom's greatest pleasure is playing the 'When You've Been a Christian for as Long as I Have' game. Unless you're Billy Graham, Mom and Dad can always manage to offer advice and guidance on how you can lead a more fulfilling and useful life as a Christian, while pointing out your obvious faults. I grew up watching this game played constantly and while it didn't do a damn thing to make me a better Christian, it did make me an expert at almost instantly recognizing people I need to stay the hell away from.
It's not the norm by any stretch of the imagination, both twins being homosexual. I knew Corinne was a lesbian before she knew I was gay. I knew when Corinne fell hard for Maria Baxter while we were in high school. Maria was a total bitch as far as I was concerned but Corinne was madly in love with her. I could see it in Corinne's eyes that she was crazy about that cunt and I felt I had no choice but to let my sister know that if her puppy love was obvious to me it was just a matter of time before someone else discovered it. We were at a church sponsored camp meeting in Columbus, Georgia and I took the bull by the horns and told her she was making a fool of herself over a girl who was never going to reciprocate her love. In fact, if Maria had suspected Corinne's true feelings for her, she'd have been the first to call for a public stoning of her. Corinne cried but she didn't lie to me. It broke her heart but she got her emotions under control. I admitted to her that I, too, preferred my same sex and confessed I'd even had a few sexual encounters with other boys. That day, Corinne and I made a pact to get the fuck away from the nuts as soon as we could manage it and scholarships paved the way.
University educations and living in New York gave us the freedom we wanted. We'd long since been honest with each other about our sex lives by the time we moved to New York and began our university courses. We didn't advertise it on a billboard but we had lovers, we didn't deny our sexuality.
Corinne was already in the army and overseas when my homosexual disaster occurred. I was completing my Master of Science in Accounting degree and the 'incident' occurred when I went home for Thanksgiving. I'd always been careful about my sexuality in Georgia, not just to avoid embarrassment to my family but also because it's only within the last few years that homosexuality was removed from the criminal statutes of the state. That fact does not stop the local law enforcement from harassing, arresting, or abusing homosexuals.
The Saturday before Thanksgiving, I'd received a telephone call from Mom telling me she and Dad would be in Macon visiting with Kurt and Arlene when I flew in on Monday evening, for me to just take a cab to the house and enjoy the peace and quiet until they arrived on Wednesday. So I did as Mom instructed and after arriving home I just collapsed exhausted in my bed. Tuesday morning I went for a run around eleven and ate lunch at a McDonald's a couple of miles from the house. I met this gorgeous stud named Jim and he offered to give me a ride home. One thing led to another and soon we were naked in my bed. I wasn't worried about anything, thinking I had the place to myself until the following day.
I was in the midst of getting the best ass fucking I'd ever had. Jim's cock was pounding my asshole and just as our orgasms exploded, Kurt's seven year old son Robby opened my bedroom door and entered the room, my father behind him. I envision Armageddon being something like that scene. Robby was stunned into total silence and my father began to scream like a lunatic, ordering me and Jim out of the house. Kurt threatened to call the police and have us arrested for indecent exposure in front of his son. Only Mom kept that from happening; she couldn't endure the scandal, she said. Arlene was crying and praying, swearing that I'd have to pay for the psychiatric treatment Robby was sure to need now. It took a couple of weeks before I could even get another erection and it's a wonder I can even have an orgasm anymore.
I'm not sure what was more awful for my family -- the fact that I was getting fucked in the ass by a man or the fact that Jim was black. I was packed and gone in record time. Jim would have raced away naked if I hadn't forced him to stay to take me to the bus station. I took a bus to New York because flights were impossible to get so close to Thanksgiving and I was afraid to wait on standby. My father had threatened to have me committed to the state mental institution in Milledgeville, Georgia. I wasn't really sure if he could do that but I wasn't about to wait around and find out.
I was a nervous wreck until the bus crossed the New York state line and promised myself I'd never go back. That weekend, Corinne called me on Sunday morning from Iraq; along about the time I'd begun to regain my sanity. I wasn't surprised when she told me Dad had instructed her to tell me I was never to visit my parent's home again, never call them or attempt any communication with them. She also relayed the same instructions from Kurt and Karen. Corinne laughed hysterically as she described the conversation with Dad as he told her about 'Colin's homosexual incident'. She said he kept repeating himself as he raged about how black Jim was, how he glowed like a piece of coal. He'd burned the mattress and sheets of my bed; then not content with that, he'd burned the bed, too. Corinne told me Mom had plans to completely remodel the room, to totally eradicate any evidence I'd ever been there or that it had been a bedroom.
And now I was entering the driveway of my parents' Sandy Springs house for the first time in over four years. I don't know why I expected it to look different but it was the same. There were several cars out front and a group of people were standing around on the front porch. I could see the looks turn cold as they realized it was me driving the rental car and I forced a ramrod of steel in my back to get out of the car and walk in among the lions. No matter what they thought about me, I had a right to be here, to attend my beloved sister's funeral. I was dressed in a black Armani suit and could have passed for a Republican. No one greeted me as I walked to the front door and I didn't bother to knock, just walked inside. My parents looked at me as if I'd come to set the house on fire but my brother Kurt stepped forward and held his hand out.
"I'm sorry, Colin, so sorry. I know how close the two of you were. Corinne adored you, wouldn't listen to any criticism of you. She'd just hang up."
I was torn between tears and anger. His statement acknowledged what I'd already known; my family berated Corinne for not shunning me, for not being part of a solid family unit against my abomination. It was only the fervor of their condemnation that helped me to convince Corinne not to come out to them herself. As I told her, it was pointless to invite trouble and jeopardize her army nurse career. At that time, the military had not relaxed the stance on homosexuality. . I wanted to hit Kurt and I wanted to cry at the same time but I refused to share my grief with them.