I have to admit, this short story is one of my favorites that I wrote with Fae. I’d always hoped we’d do more with Ricky and Charlie, but we got caught up in other projects. And the soundtrack for this one was so much fun to do.
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They marched for peace, but found hope for the future in each other’s arms...
Set against the backdrop of the infamous March on the Pentagon in the fall of 1967, Fortunate Son follows Ricky Anderson and his lover, Charlie Irvine, as they and thousands of other idealistic anti-war protesters strive to make their voices heard.
Haunted by the death of his older brother on the front lines in Vietnam, Ricky’s stake in the protests is personal and painful. Charlie, Ricky’s peace-loving hippie lover, has taught Ricky about rallies, poetry and love. But a secret Charlie’s hidden from Ricky since day one is about to come to light and threaten their relationship as well as their beliefs.
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Charlie nodded, urging Ricky to sit, too. “Yeah, let me get a look at that lip.”
Ricky held still as Charlie probed, his slim, elegant fingers brushing the swollen, injured side of his lower lip. Ricky examined Charlie’s face, so close to his own, as his lover took a small packet of alcohol wipes from his backpack. Leave it to Charlie to be prepared. Ricky wondered if he’d been a Boy Scout when he was little.
Golden eyes lifted to meet his own and Charlie tipped his head with a curious smile. “For what?”
Ricky shrugged, gesturing to his lip, then toward the building. “For everything. For getting me in. For taking care of me now. You’re my guiding light, Charlie.” He was the one person who seemed able to reach Ricky through the haze of anger and hurt that sometimes took over. The only one who had tried to see past the corn-fed Midwestern farmer to the rebel inside. The only person who had told Ricky it was okay to let that rebel out. Ricky owed Charlie for a lot.
Charlie blushed and shook his head. He finished cleaning Ricky’s lip and put away the supplies. “It was nothing. Anybody would’ve—”
Ricky cut him off, covering Charlie’s mouth and meeting wide eyes. “No, anybody wouldn’t have. You did. Thank you.” He raised his brows. “This is the part where you say ‘you’re welcome.’”
When he lifted his hand, Charlie said nothing, although he looked like he wanted to say something, even opened his mouth to do so, then shook his head and focused on zipping up his pack.
“It’s a good thing we brought the blankets and food. I heard a bunch of people saying we’re camping out here tonight and then marching to the White House at dawn to wake Johnson.”
Ricky nodded, not sure why, but a little uncertain for a second. Then Charlie looked up at him with a smile, and Ricky forgot anything but that. “Maybe we can get thrown down the steps of the White House, too.”
Ricky bit his lip, then flinched.
“Stop that,” Charlie chided, brushing his fingers over
Ricky’s jaw. “You’re going to break it open again.” His eyes warmed and he grinned. “Though you look sexy with your lip all swollen. It makes me think dirty thoughts.”
Ricky chuckled, the momentary intuition that something was off between them disappearing at the suggestion of Charlie connected in any way with dirty thoughts. “Why don’t you share some of these thoughts?”
“I could sing you a bad song, or recite you some atrocious poetry about it, but you’ve been saved. My guitar has suffered a disastrous fate.”
Ricky’s eyes widened as he realized Charlie wasn’t carrying his guitar. Charlie took it everywhere with him. The only thing left was the handmade, multicolored strap over his shoulder. “What happened?” Ricky jumped to his feet, searching the milling crowd for some sign of it.
Charlie shrugged and took Ricky’s hand again. “Taking it on a Pentagon raid was a bad idea. It didn’t survive the tumble down the stairs.” He smiled. “It’s okay. I’ll save up for another one, and you can enjoy your reprieve in the meantime. Or we can dip into the ’shrooms and pot again tonight and I’m sure you’ll hear music.”
Ricky felt bad—Charlie loved that stupid guitar. There was nothing he could do, though, so he let Charlie pull him back down beside him. He cast a sidelong glance at his lover and smiled, nudging him with his shoulder.
“Your poetry isn’t bad. I love your poetry.” He leaned in and brushed a kiss across Charlie’s cheek. “I love that you write poetry about me. Nobody ever wrote me songs or odes before. It’s sweet.” And if they sometimes didn’t make sense, well, that was what getting high was for. Charlie’s poetry was brilliant when they were high.
Charlie smiled and laid his head on Ricky’s shoulder. It was a soft, sweet, subconscious gesture. Ricky brushed a lock of dark hair back from Charlie’s cheek and exhaled, looking around at the now-dwindling protest. “Maybe tomorrow.”
Charlie lifted his head, and Ricky knew he understood what Ricky meant. Maybe tomorrow they’d be heard. Maybe tomorrow they’d make a difference. Maybe the war would end and no one else’s brother wouldn’t come home.
Charlie nodded. “Yeah, maybe tomorrow.”