Joy to the World 10: Epilogue

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This is a gay adult story with the consequent language and images. If homosexuality and/or sexually explicit themes offend you then do not continue. If these are illegal in your area, then you have my sympathy, but you proceed at your own risk.

This is a work of fiction, and as such the characters are not bound by the usual dictates of modern society. Unsafe sexual practices can be undertaken with impunity only in the world of fantasy. In reality, it is your obligation and your right to play safely, sanely and healthily.

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He was young, almost too young, and far too attractive for his own good, or mine for that matter. I could not help myself but stare at him, and I felt that he knew what I was doing. He smiled, and his eyes flirted with me, and I told myself to get over it, but still I looked admiringly at him.

It was early spring, the gentle days of September heralding new growth everywhere, but for me there was nothing but memories - of a time more than two decades earlier when I had stood on this same spot and seen my one true love for the first time ever. I had wandered down to the beach innocently enough, intending to spend some time just breathing in the fresh sea breezes and feeling the grit of sand between my toes, to recharge my batteries after the long cold winter. But as I stood at the water's edge, the chill still too much to entice me into a swim, I found my eyes drawn to the lithe young body that emerged from the sea carrying his board and shaking the droplets from his face. I stared with open admiration for a moment, until I realised he had seen me watching, then tried to look away quickly. But he smiled at me, a knowing smile that seemed like he was aware he was being appreciated, and he liked it. As I looked back again, I could have sworn he slowed his pace, turning himself so that I was rewarded with the most complete view of him, drinking in every part of his perfect frame. He grinned again and I shook myself out of long ago memories to the present day, smiling back at my son..

"Hi, Dad!" he called as he flung himself down on the sand and unzipped the top of his wetsuit beside me. "How are you going this morning?"

"I'm fine, David," I said easily. "Shouldn't you get changed and warm up? You'll catch your death if you're not careful - it's still cold out!"

"Stop worrying! You're the one who'll end up killing me - with your over-protective instincts. I'm a big boy now - almost married, remember?"

"I'm sorry, son," I said quietly. "It's just that sometimes I can't help myself, especially when you remind me so much of him! With me standing here, and you coming out of the water like that - well, it was almost an exact replay of the day I first met your father!"

David went silent for a minute, lost in his own thoughts, then reached out and put his arm around my shoulders comfortingly. "Dad, it's been three years since Joy died. I miss him too, but you can't go on living in the past. You have to get on with life. You know we'll never forget him, but he's not coming back!"

"I know, David, I know," I said resignedly. "And I am trying. But you look so much like him ... and I am over 60 now!"

"No excuse!" my son declared. "Besides, I need you to help me get this wedding organised. I can't do it on my own, and Julie is flat out as well."

I smiled then, at the start of a new life for my son, for our son. David and Julie were to be married in less than a month and the very look in his eyes - Joy's eyes, I thought idly - whenever he said her name, told me just how much in love with her he was.

"Okay," I shrugged. "Humour your old man - go and get changed while I buy us a coffee, and sit and drink it with me - that's what Joy and I did all those years ago, then we'll get moving for you."

"You're on!" he laughed, jumping up and heading for the changing rooms as my eyes followed his graceful frame across the sand.


Sitting there in the caf� as I waited for David to change, my thoughts returned again to his father, my lover, my Joy. I remembered as if it were yesterday that awful evening when he was killed, and the painful weeks that followed. A few days after Joy's death I had told my friends I needed time alone, and had made a final pilgrimage to our beach. I drove south, re-living the memories of my first trip along these roads with Joy, on board a racing, roaring black motorcycle. This time the journey was much more sedate as I carefully steered my car through the traffic and made my way along the M5 motorway, then down the Princes Highway to the gates of the Royal National Park. With a growing sense of loss I found the tiny cairn of stones by the side of the road and parked my car off to one side, proceeding on foot along the fire trail that led toward the coast.

I almost missed the branching track that wound its way down to the water. For the entire walk my eyes had been dim, my sight blurred by the insistent film of tears, but I forced myself to continue - this was something I had to do. As I reached the tiny clearing at the bottom, and stepped out onto the smooth golden sand of our tiny beach, I felt a mixture of emotion; sadness and yet joy at the same time. My man had brought me here often, and my fondest memories of him were tied up with this place.

The entrance to our cave was a little overgrown, but I easily cleared away the new bushes, and found myself in the quiet dim light of our grotto. I looked around with tears gathering in my eyes, and surveyed the abandoned site. Gathering up some of the items there - our leather gear, the 'toys' we used, I stuffed them into a backpack. I left the mattress and cooking ring, lantern and a few other pieces behind. I couldn't bring myself to completely empty our haven of all that was Joy. I looked around once more at the sand and surf.

"Goodbye, Joy. I love you so!" I said aloud, and turned my back on the beach, hiking slowly up and away to return to my car. The long walk with the heavy pack told me just how much I had aged, the days since Joy had gone weighing on me like years, and I was completely exhausted by the time I reached the sealed road again. Yet as I drove away, I felt a sense of closure. I had said my farewells to my man in the place that meant the most to us.

When I told the funeral parlour that I wanted a closed casket, there was no problem at all. When I also informed them that I wanted Joy dressed in full leathers there was a cough and a raised eyebrow, but I didn't see any need for explanations. "It's what he wanted, and what I want," I said simply, quiet but firm. "Is there a problem?"

"No, sir, not at all," the undertaker hurried to reassure me.

"Good!" I declared.

I did have a private viewing of Joy's body one final time before the funeral. He looked so peaceful, so serene and so beautiful, lying there, his handsome body encased in gleaming black leather. His eyes were closed but his lips curled in the first hint of that ever-present smile of his, and I prayed for him to just wake up, hold out his arms to me and laugh at his joke. But it didn't happen.

The coffin was sealed, and an hour later I sat numbly through the memorial service. David spoke, as did Elizabeth and Susan. I don't recall their words, but I know they offered comfort and happy memories of my man. But the shell inside that wooden box was not my Joy - my Joy was bright and bubbling and full of life, residing inside my mind and living on. At one point I looked up and gasped as I saw David standing there. His eyes were red with grief, but his face and his body were those of his father, and I knew Joy would never leave me. Without any emotion at all I watched as the coffin disappeared behind the curtains. It was only his body that would be burnt; his spirit remained with me. I knew I would have to come back in a week or so to collect the ashes, but I could get through that alone.


The next four weeks following that morning with my son at the beach were chaotic as David and Julie made the final preparations for their wedding. I tried to help where I could, although I confess that my contribution was mainly financial. There was little I could do to assist them in the actual physical doing of the work. I did however get a chance to do something real when it came time to pack the things that belonged to David, that he would take with him to his new home with his new wife. He had already collected a lot of his stuff, and it fell to me to box up the old trophies and photos, the little things that he had stored away at home during his 21 years of life.

I stumbled across an old photograph of David and Joy, taken when our son was about 16. Sitting on David's bed, I ran my fingers lightly over the image of my lover, and tears came unbidden to my face as I remembered how much alike he and David were. Lost in my thoughts, I didn't hear Julie until she coughed at the doorway, making me look up in embarrassment.

"Are you okay, Iain?" she asked, her voice full of concern.

"Yes, Julie, I'm fine. Just reminiscing - it's one of the things you get to do when you're old - people expect it of you!"

She smiled at that, a kind, gentle smile, and came to sit beside me, taking the photo from my hand as she stared at it. With one hand on my shoulder, she sighed.

"I wish I could have known him," she said softly as we both looked at the image of Joy. "He must have been a wonderful man, to have left such a loving partner and son behind."

I took her free hand in mine, squeezing it tightly. "You do know him, Julie," I said firmly. "You are marrying him - his essence. David is so much like his father that it sometimes scares me!"

We shared a quiet laugh before she became serious again. "Do we have your blessing?" she asked, quite seriously. "I know David means so much to you. I don't want you to think I am taking him away from you. I hope instead that you will let me become part of the family, even if we aren't living with you."

I smiled at her. "You already are part of my family, young lady! It's just taken the two of you a while to make it official. I am proud of David, not the least for choosing you as his partner."

She kissed me then, on the forehead, and smiled, a smile which lit up her face. "Thank you, Dad!" she said with real feeling.

I glanced again at the photograph still in her hand, and then at her. "Julie," I said softly. "I have a wedding gift for you ..."

"You don't need to, you've already done so much," she began to protest, but I held my finger to her lips and went on.

"That's just money, and presents are just objects - toasters and what-have-you. But my true gift to you is my son. I give you David, his heart and mind, with all his faults and his blessings. All I ask is that you look after him, and treasure him the way that Joy and I have done."

She said nothing, but there were tears in her eyes as she leaned into me again, and wrapped her arms around me in a long hug of appreciation.


David and Julie's wedding was all set for Saturday afternoon, the preparations made and everything ready, when I called her on the Wednesday beforehand. "Julie, I need to 'borrow' your fianc� for a few hours on Friday if that's okay?"

"Of course," she replied. "It'll get him out of my hair - see if you can calm him down a little when you do?"

I laughed. "No promises!"

When David got home that evening, I told him that I wanted him to take me somewhere on his bike on Friday. His eyebrows shot upward in amazement.

"But you haven't been on a bike since ..." his voice trailed away.

"I know, but it's time to bury the memories, and a bike is the only way to show you what I want to show you," I assured him.

"Okay, Dad," he agreed. "As long as you're sure."

"I am!"

Friday morning I woke early to find my son already up and about. Sharing breakfast with him, I looked long at him again, always amazed at the likeness between he and Joy. He caught me staring and smiled.

"Still want to make this mystery trip?" he asked.

"Uh huh. I want to give you my wedding gift."

"But ...?"

"No, a special gift, David, for you to use as you choose. I'm ready to go whenever you are."

Half an hour later, I climbed on his bike behind him, pulling the helmet down over my head. Once, the very act of straddling the bike would have gotten me excited, but now it brought only a deep sense of loss, and of dread. Reassuring David that I was okay, I directed him to head for the Royal National Park. I could tell during the trip that he was being exceptionally cautious in the way he rode, which I appreciated, but even so, every oncoming truck made me flinch, and the trip was long and difficult.

Finally we entered the park, and I guided my son along the so familiar route, pointing out to him the marker by the road as I instructed him to follow the fire trail east. I showed him where the smaller track led off, and told him to take it carefully as we descended the hill before eventually pulling up in the glade of trees behind the beach. As he stilled the engine, I climbed off and removed my helmet, motioning for him to say nothing but to follow me. Parting the bushes, I stepped through and led him onto the golden sand, then took his hand as if he were a child again, and showed him the cave. It was untouched, the items Joy and I had brought in to make it more comfortable, such as lanterns and cooking rings, exactly as I had left them. Apart from a light coating of dust to mark the passage of the years, it could have been only yesterday since I was here, not three long years.

Finally I spoke. "This was our special place. We made love here, and we fell in love here. We lived and we shared everything here. We didn't own it, it owned us, but now I'm giving it to you."

David stifled a sob as his eyes misted. "Dad, this is your place ..."

"No," I said firmly. "It was our place. Now that Joy is gone, it's no longer mine. I would like very much for it to become yours, if you want it."

"I do," he said softly, barely able to speak.

"It comes with a condition," I warned, as he turned to look at me again. "You know that Joy's ashes are in an urn at home?"

He nodded.

"When my time comes, I want you to take my ashes, mix them with Joy's, and scatter the two of us over this beach. Will you do that for me?"

"Of course I will, but you have many years left yet."

"Maybe. But that's what I want you to do. And this is what I want you to have to remember your fathers, this very special slice of paradise."

We stood there together, arms around each other, for a long, long while, before turning as one and making our way back to the bike. We didn't say a word to each other all the way home, but I knew that we had shared something special, and I was proud to have offered our son our secret place.


David and Julie married, and bought a home not far from me. A few years later they presented me with a grandson, grinning widely as they placed him in my arms a few hours after he was born.

"Dad," said David proudly, "This is Jason!"

"It was the closest we could come to a combination of 'Joy' and 'Iain'," Julie confided. I simply beamed with delight and pride.

Two years after that a beautiful granddaughter, Helen, was born. I watched my children's children grow, and enjoyed the constant visits and careful attentions of my son and his wife for many years. Young Jason quickly grew into another replica of his father and grandfather, and I sometimes found myself marvelling at his beauty. I knew that David and Julie could see the resemblance as well, and it always brought a smile to my face whenever he was around. Although the years after Joy's passing were long and often lonely, they were filled with happiness and the love of my family. I often wished that Joy could have shared the wonder that I knew, and somehow, I am sure he did. I could feel him with me in those perfect moments, smiling and proud at what we had managed to do together.

I loved both of my grand-children, and often doted on them during my baby-sitting weekends when David would take Julie away - I knew he was taking her to our secret beach, and it made me immensely happy to know he and Julie had fallen in love with that place as much as Joy and I had done. Of course, although I tried not to show it, Jason was my favourite, and I allowed him to get away with far more than I should, but isn't that the point of having a grand-father - to spoil you?


When my father died - my second father, Iain, that is - I had two fathers, which makes me one of the luckiest men alive, I cried all night with the feeling of loss. I had lost my best friend, my mentor, my rock. It was only the strength and beauty of my one true love, my wife Julie, that got me through. She sat me down, held me tightly and pointed out all the good that my fathers had done.

"David," she said, softly but firmly. "Iain and Joy gave you life; they brought you up and taught you right from wrong. They showed you by their own life what it was to truly love another person, and they made you what you are today. You have them to thank for the way you see the world, and the ability you have to love and accept, and I have them to thank for making you you, and for giving you to me."

"But I feel so empty - the world feels so empty - without them!"

"But they are still here," she smiled. "Their memories are in your heart, and they live on in Jason. Look at our son - he is the physical image of Joy, but his mannerisms, his personality and his way of thinking is all Iain. He idolised his grandfather, and Iain and Joy both live on in him."

She was right. I hadn't realised until then, but my son was the re-incarnation of both of my fathers, a true fusion of the two, and I cried again, but this time with happiness and love.


I got through the funeral with Julie's help. It was a quiet, sombre time, only close friends and family. It meant little to me. I didn't want to remember my father as an empty corpse, but the man filled with love and happiness who shared his life and his wisdom with me, and made me who I am. A few days after the service, I collected his ashes, and we asked my sister Elizabeth to look after Jason and Helen, while Julie and I made our way down to the beautiful secluded cove that Dad had shown us, had given us, just before we were married. We'd had many wonderful times in that spot, keeping it for ourselves and sharing it with each other, feeling that whenever we were there, Iain and Joy were there with us, and understanding how they had felt about the tiny beach and its hidden cave.

Inside that very cave, Julie and I opened the container of ashes that the funeral home had given me with Iain's remains, and carefully poured them into a larger bowl we had brought for this very purpose. Then I prised open the urn holding Joy's earthly remains. It was a little more difficult, and surprisingly heavy, having been sealed for more than 15 years. When eventually the lid came away and I began to sift Joy's ashes into the same container as Iain's there was a heavy clunk, and together both Julie and I saw a metal buckle and some small chrome studs mixed in among the dust.

"What the ...?" she gasped, but I began to chuckle quietly.

"I wondered what happened to that!" I said, half to myself.

"What are you talking about?" demanded my wife, the surprise on her face understandable at my grinning reaction to what we had found.

"They didn't think I knew, didn't think anyone knew," I explained. "My fathers were into leather. It was something they shared when they made love. After Joy died, I wondered what happened to all their gear."

"How did you know?" Julie asked.

"When I was 17 ... they had come down here one weekend the way they used to do. I was supposed to be staying at Aunt Susan and Aunt Tina's place, but I snuck out and went home to get some CD's on the Sunday evening. While I was there I heard the bike roll into the garage, and turned off the light in my room - it was one of their rules that I wasn't to go into the house while they were away, and I didn't want to cop a balling out. I sat in the dark, wondering how I was going to get away with this, when they came into the house - and my eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw what they were wearing. Full leather gear - harnesses, chaps, boots, the kind of thing you see on the men in the leather pride groups at Mardi Gras!

"I watched them, and they were like teenagers. Couldn't keep their hands off each other, kissing and hugging and groping at each other! I heard Dad Iain say something about getting their leathers cleaned and put away before they went to get me, and Joy made a comment about 'one more time' before they did. Then they went into their room, and I didn't hang around to hear the rest! They came to collect me about an hour later, all washed and clean and looking the picture of respectable, conservative parents."

Julie laughed out loud. "Did it upset you to see them like that?" she asked.

"No, but it surprised the hell out of me! Afterwards, when I thought about it, I thought it was wonderful. Somehow it made them more human, more like me. Younger even!"

"You never told them?"

"God no! How do you tell your fathers that you know they like to get done up in leather gear when they fuck?" I shrieked, and Julie giggled along with me.

"Yeah, I can see some difficulties with that," she said.

We finished combining the remains of my fathers into a single pile of ashes, joining them physically the way they had asked, and hand in hand, Julie and I walked slowly around the beach, spreading Iain and Joy to every corner of the little inlet. We tossed some of them into the sea, and spread some of them around the back corner of the cave. We rode up to the top of the hill, and threw a handful of them from the top of the cliff. Finally, there was just a tiny pile of ash remaining.

I collected the miniature urn I had bought for this purpose, and spoke out loud, Julie standing behind me, her hands on my shoulders in support. "Forgive me, dads, but I'm keeping just a little of the two of you for myself!" and poured the remnants into that little metal container, tightening the lid firmly. On the side of it I'd had engraved the words 'Iain and his Joy - true lovers and devoted fathers'.

I tucked the silver container into my pocket and Julie and I gathered our things and left the beach once again. As we were about to go, Julie stopped me and asked, "Do you think we should have brought the kids with us, or even just Jason at least?"

"No," I said, quite certain. "This place is just for us at the moment. One day, I'd like to 'give' it to Jason - make it a kind of family heirloom, if you can do that with a place that doesn't belong to you, but not yet. When he finds his life partner - that's when we'll give him this spot."


Life goes on, as they say, and it's true. Julie and I enjoyed a wonderful life of shared love, good times and bad, and the delight of our two children. We told them often about their grandfathers, and although they could still remember Iain, we made sure that Joy was always mentioned in the same breath, keeping their memories forever locked together. Helen was her mother's daughter. As she grew I could see Julie in everything she did, and I felt so happy that she reflected Julie's beauty and sense.

Jason was the living essence of my fathers combined. With each passing year he came to look more and more like Joy, but his personality, his gestures, even the way he phrased his words, were Iain. It was as if my dads were reborn in my son. He was my pride and joy and even when we argued, I never lost the sense of wonder that I felt whenever I looked at him.

He came out to us just after his 16th birthday. There was no ceremony, no drama, very little hedging. He simply sat his mother and I down one evening, looked at us both with a serious face and made his announcement.

"Mum, Dad, I hope you're not upset or disappointed, but I'm gay!"

I was surprised, but not upset. On reflection, the signs had been there. My main concern was more for the pain and hurt he would know. I remembered well that my fathers had told me so often that in spite of their love for each other the world still did not accept gay people easily. It was his mother's reaction which startled me.

"I know," she stated quietly, with a smile.

"You know?" I said quickly.

"How?" asked Jason at the same time.

"A mother can sense these things," she replied enigmatically. "We both love you, Jason. You're our son and always will be. I'm just glad that you were able to tell us so openly, and I want you to remember that your father and I will always be here for you, whenever you need us."

Jason hugged his mother and me, and I couldn't tell whether I was more proud of him or of Julie. Either way, I knew I was a lucky, lucky man.

Over the next few years we went through the usual ups and downs all parents of teenagers know. Jason and Helen were no exception, except that Jason's loves, his infatuations and his broken hearts revolved around boys rather than girls. In many ways I was proud and happy to know that he shared with us his feelings, his hopes and his hurts. It would have been easy for him to hide them away, but he didn't, and we shared it all with him, making every effort to ensure that we saw his romantic problems as completely normal, and offered what advice we could. One extra benefit of this was that not only Jason, but many of his friends, came to us often. His gay friends seemed to find that Julie and I were much easier to talk to, whether as a shoulder to cry on, or a sounding board for their own dreams, than their own parents, who either didn't know of their sons' sexuality, or had difficulties in seeing it in the same light as a heterosexual relationship. We became more than just parents, we became friends. Close friends, and we inherited a number of de facto sons as a result, all of whom were good, honest young men that we approved of very much.


Jason had been seeing Todd for almost two years. They had met each other at University, and Todd had become a regular visitor to our home, a part of the family. Helen adored him, and Julie and I had discussed the relationship ourselves, and heartily approved of Jason's young man. I came to realise that Todd was the right one for my son when I overheard Jason telling him in loving terms about Joy and Iain, explaining how important his grandfathers had been, and how much he loved them, even though he had never known Joy. The look on Jason's face, and the corresponding love in Todd's eyes, convinced me that they would make a perfect couple. They were both now 24, and had graduated together a few months earlier. Todd had found himself employment almost immediately, but it had taken Jason a little longer before he was offered a job which he liked. It wasn't long after that when he and Todd came to us with the news we had been both hoping for and dreading.

"Dad, Mum," he had asked us with a deep breath, standing before us, with Todd holding his hand tightly for support. "Todd and I have decided to move into together. We're both working now and more than able to pay our own way. And we love each other very much!" his eyes lit up with these last words, although they weren't needed. Julie and I could see for ourselves how much in love these two young men were.

Julie began to cry, and Jason ran to her. "It's alright, darling," she said, reassuring him. "I'm so happy for you, but I'm losing my little boy!"

"I'll look after him, Julie, I promise," Todd broke in.

I stepped up to them, and said "Congratulations to both of you. I hope you'll be as happy together as Julie and I have been!"

Todd held out his hand to me as if to shake, but I ignored it, and drew him into my arms, giving him a warm hug, and then included Jason as well, holding both of them tightly before letting go and trying to surreptitiously blink away the tears I felt beginning to form. "Todd, I think it's about time you started calling us Mum and Dad, instead of David and Julie, don't you?" He nodded slowly, his own eyes moist as the two boys hugged Julie again.

It was she who added the final magic to the moment. "Todd," she said, although she looked long and hard at both of them, moving to be by my side. "When David and I were about to be married, Jason's grandfather said to me what I am now going to say to you. He meant it with real solemnity, and so do I. Our gift to you on this special occasion is our son. We give you Jason, his heart and mind, with all his faults and his blessings. All we ask is that you look after him, and treasure him the way that David and I have done."

If anyone had walked in on the four of us at that moment, they would have been easily convinced that we had suffered some horrible disaster. The tears flowed freely as all of us hugged each other closely. But the room was full of love and joy, rather than despair or sorrow. Finally I looked to my wife with an eyebrow raised in question. She knew what I was asking, and smilingly nodded her agreement.

"Jason," I began, "Your gift is waiting for you as well. Todd, I'm going to take him away from you, just for a few hours, sometime in the next few days. We need to make a trip down to the National Park, just the two of us."

The End.

Post-script: I would like to say thanks to all of the people who have written to me offering support and encouragement as 'Joy' progressed. It began as a quick exercise, and was only going to be a few pages, but somehow just grew and grew. Some people loved it, some didn't. Some liked the leather aspect, others thought it unnecessary. When Joy died, I received many complaints, even one very upset and angry letter, but I never received any hate mail or any unjustified or negative criticism. Thank you. But my biggest thank-you goes to Joy himself. For those who don't realise, the whole story was inspired by the real-life Joy who had read some of my other stories and begged me to include him in something I wrote. I agreed on the proviso that it would be OUR story, not just mine. Joy offered suggestions and comments, inspiration and proof-reading, and friendship. The kind of friendship which seems can only come in this new world of ours over the internet. We have never met, and live on opposite sides of the planet. I have never been to his country and he has never been to mine. We have never even spoken by telephone, yet I feel that we have developed a deep and lasting friendship, and I feel I know him better (and I suspect he knows me better) than a lot of my friends who live just around the corner. I have tried to pass all comments on to him, and he has replied to some himself. For those of you who would like to contact him directly, you can email him at [email protected]. For myself, I will simply finish with Thank You Joy, I love you, man! Iain.