When we were young we thought we'd always live next door to each other. After all, it had never been any different, had it? We were born within a week of each other at the same hospital (he was born four days before me) and brought home on the same day (he was always a sickly child, and the doctors had to watch him for a few days to make sure it was safe for his parents to take him home). His last name was Walker and mine was Wallis, and our elementary school was notorious for alphabetical seating arrangements, so we always sat near each other. Our parents threw huge joint birthday parties for us. We even had our first kiss at the same party in eighth grade.
We used to pretend we were twins, though we looked nothing alike. I've always been blond, blue-eyed and brawny, and he was pale and thin with dark hair and huge brown eyes. we made up preposterous stories to explain this difference, and the difference in our birthdays. But we never believed it - he was older, if only by four days, so somehow in our minds he became the leader. By his inititative, we spent hours in the library during too-hot or rainy days. Sometimes we looked up trains, cars, pirates, dinosaurs and other boy-things; when we got older we searched through National Geographics for pictures of boobs. That is, until we got caught and weren't allowed in the periodical room any more.
But all things have to end, I guess. Whren we were 14, a month before we started high school, Gabriel's parents announced they were moving to Washington State. You can imagine how much we argued, pleaded and planned.
They didn't change their minds.
In high school, I made friends, made the football team, made it with cheerleaders, and all but forgot Gabe. We wrote back and forth at first, but his parents moved a lot, and the attention span of a 15-year-old being what it is, we slowly lost touch.
I graduated high school with a football scholarship to UT. I took the scholarship and my parents agreed to pay for a small (very small - the only thing big about it was the walk-in closet) apartment, as long as I kept a B-average. If it slipped too much, I'd have to move into a dorm on campus. I packed my bags.
Junior year at college - I was dating a cheerleader (again), doing fairly well on the team, and holding a 3.3 average. I had adjusted well to the rhythms and demands of college life. I partied like any college student, but didn't let it interfere with my schooling (aside for the drinking binge I went on my sophomore year after the first girl I had ever loved dumped me).
One night in November I got home from a party and found a message on my answering machine.
"Hi, Dave. I'm in town, and I thought I'd get in touch with you..."
I didn't have any idea who it was.
"I got your number from your parents. I'm glad they never moved, or I wouldn't have found you!"
Is it Josh from high school? No, his voice isn't that deep.
"Anyway, you can reach me at 555-3240 until tomorrow."
End of message. Who is that?
"God, what an idiot! This is Gabriel. Remember me? Please call me as soon as you can."
Remember...memories battered me. Picking up the phone, I felt my face spread in a smile. God, what we could reminisce about! I played the message back to get the number, then dialed up.
"Hello. Is Gabriel Walker there?"
"Just a second"
"Yeah! I can't believe it! What's going on?"
"Not much. I'm just in Austin for a while, and I wanted to see you."
"You want to come over?" I gave him my address and directions, and he said he'd be here soon.
When I opened the door, I couldn't say anything for a few seconds. He looked terrible. His black hair was greasy and tied back with a string, and his dark eyes looked like holes in his chalky skin. Sooty-looking shadows lay under his eyes and cheekbones and above his collarbones. He was wearing filthy jeans and a ragged black t-shirt. He stuck his hand out.
"How do you do?" he rumbled. I stopped staring, took his hand, pumped it, and started laughing out of sheer happiness. He joined me. He almost looked like the Gabe I remembered when he smiled. I gave him a huge bearhug, feeling the bones of his shoulders. He started coughing, still laughing. I let go.
"Get in here! My God, man, it's been so long! What happened to you?"
He smiled, shook his head. "I know, I must look rough. But it's a long story. Do you think I could get a shower first?"
I laughed. "Please! I'm relieved you don't look that way by choice!"
I hunted for a towel on the floor.
"Hey Gabe, how long are you in town? Where are you staying?"
He made a wry face. "I'm not sure about either of those right now. I'm just playing it by ear."
"You wanna stay here for a while? You know, catch up on old times, get to know each other again, all that shit? My apartment's not so big, but it'll be like those sleepovers we used to have. Hey, it was only one room back then, right?"
He chuckled for a minute, and said,"Yeah, that would be great. You have no idea how glad I am you asked. Ugh, I feel shit-crusted. Where's that shower?"
I threw him my cleanest towel.
While the shower was running, I cleaned up the apartment as much as I could. I folded up the hide-a-bed, threw all the dirty clothes in one corner of the living room-bedroom, piled all the clean-ish ones in another, put all the junk in the closet, and walked into the kitchen to put some dishes in the dishwasher. When I heard the shower stop running, I started the dishes.
He walked out of the bathroom in the same clothes, with the towel around his head.
"God, I feel better," he sighed, and plopped down on the couch. I sat beside him.
"Could I borrow some clothes to wear tonight? I'm going to go out and get some more tomorrow, but I lost my luggage on the way here." Gabe laughed.
"Sure," I said, "but I don't know if I have any pants that will fit you."
"Just a shirt and some shorts or sweatpants or something will do tonight. I'm not picky." He yawned hugely.
I rooted through the pile of clean clothes on the floor and grabbed a white undershirt. All the shorts I had were too big, I thought, and started picking through the closet. Near the back I found a pair of boxers my ex-girlfriend Julie left. They were small enough, but a little insubstantial. Oh well, we used to bathe together, he shouldn't worry about it.
When I handed him the clothes, he handed me a beer.
"Found something? Good. I'll go change. I got us beers out of the fridge. Hope you don't mind."
"Sure. I don't know if I need any more alcohol, but I'll drink one with you.
Gabe came back from the bathroom laughing.
"I haven't seen you for - what - six years, and this is what you give me to wear? Shit, I feel like a twelve-year-old girl!"
He spun around in the white tank top and short, thin white shorts. His hair curled around his shoulders and his nipples poked at the thin cotton. His cock made a bulge in my ex-girlfriend's boxers. When his back was facing me, He put his hands on his hips and stuck his ass out.
"Well, from the back you look like a very tall girl," I chuckled, "but from the front your dick gives you away, man. And when you talk you sound like Barry White."
He dropped himself onto the couch and took a swig of his beer. He yawned and leaned his head back. "I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to have to sleep very, very soon. I haven't slept for almost two days now. We can get reacquainted tomorrow, if that's all right with you, Dave." He looked at me. I nodded. "Where do I sleep?"
"Get up and I'll make the bed," I said, a little disappointed. As I pulled the cushions off the couch, I snuck glances at Gabe. He was a lot taller than I remembered, thinner, longer hair, a little stranger, and he sort of hunched his shoulders. But he was still Gabe, and I was amazed that he was here. I chuckled as I straightened the sheets and got the blankets out of the closet.
"What's so funny?" he squinted his eyes at me and tilted his head.
"Nothing, I just...I didn't know if I'd ever see you again, and here you are! Sleeping over, like we did when we were kids. I'm just..." I stopped, stared at him, then looked at the floor, suddenly a little embarrassed. "I'm just really happy you're here." I glanced at him and saw him smiling a strange smile, and I felt my chest constrict.
"Yeah. Me, too. Me, too."
I couldn't help but to hug him again. I was struck by his thinness, and the feel of his unprotected spine. He backed away after a second.
"Look at you, Mr. Football Player, acting like a little girl. You always were the sentimental one, weren't you? I had almost forgotten."
He got under the covers and said goodnight. Before I turned all the lights off I heard him snoring.
I dreamed -
Julie laughing, grabbing the crotch of my pants and pulling me into the apartment. I leaned forward to kiss her and she turned her head, giving me a mouthful of dark brown hair. I pushed the door shut, and she got on her knees, jerked my pants down, and took my erection into her mouth. She sucked me roughly, looking up into my face. Then I was sitting on the floor and she walked out of the bathroom drying her hair, the long nipples of her small, perfect breasts showing through her cotton t-shirt, long slender legs shining, dark against her white boxers. Her wet pubic hair made a patch on her shorts. "I'm going to bed," she said, raising an eyebrow at me, "You coming?" Then I was in bed with her, cradling her body from behind, breathing in the smell of her skin and her warm, wet, fragrant hair. I teased her nipples under her shirt. She pulled her shorts down, and reached back to free my dick. I licked her neck and pulled her hips toward me. She tilted them, and I felt her moisture against my cock-head. I roughly parted her and sighed as I was enveloped in heaving, burning wetness. I pumped her hard, breathing into her neck. She mewed and purred prettily...
A snore woke me. My face was buried in Gabe's hair, my arm around his waist, and Jesus Christ, my hard-on was pressed into his warm ass crack. I rolled over quietly but as quickly as I could, grabbed a towel I saw on the side table, sat up and realized I couldn't hold it in any longer, barely squeezed my painful erection, and blew my load into the towel. Thank God Gabe was so tired. I don't remember the last time I was that embarrassed.
I walked into the bathroom, and when I came back I saw Gabe on his side in the thin blue glow of the streetlight slipping through the blinds. His hair spread across the pillows and his wide shoulders narrowed to a petite waist. Jesus, I thought, no wonder I dreamed about Julie! He looks like her from behind! I'd better not tell him that, though. How strange...
I got under the covers, thinking my sunken-in mattress was good for sleeping with girls, good for cuddling, but a little inconvenient when it's a guy in bed with me. I situated myself with my back against his, and promptly passed out.
When I woke up, I looked at the clock and saw it was 3 pm. I thought about the night before as I emptied my bladder. My first thought was of my shame, but I tried to force it away, saying he was asleep and didn't know, and I was dreaming about Julie. Shit, I'm not gay or anything, and I'd kick anyone's ass who said I was. I love girls...well, I've really only loved one girl, but I love fucking girls.
I wondered what was up with Gabe - why was he so dirty? Why hadn't he slept for two days? Why was he so scrawny? Was he sick? Why was he in Austin? How'd he get here? I stored the questions in my head for later, determined to get him to talk today. I decided to let him sleep for a little while longer, and I went out to get us some food.
When I got back, Gabe was sitting on the folded-up couch in one of my sweaters and a pair of jeans that looked like they almost fit him.
"I got some food. Where'd you get the jeans?"
"I found them in the closet when I put the blankets up. Whatchoo got to eat?" he asked, getting up and taking the sodas from me. I recognized the jeans then - they once belonged to a girl on the basketball team I had dated for a few weeks some time back. He wore them low on his hips, and they were almost too short, but they were guy's jeans, and they looked pretty good on him.
While we ate our burgers and fries, he told me about the years since we separated. He didn't make many friends in high school ("Two friends." "Two? You're shittin me." "Huh-uh. Two.") He went to college for a few semesters, dropped out, did some drugs, cleaned up. His mom died last year and a few months later his dad kicked him out of the house.
"Why?! I thought your dad was pretty cool."
"He used to be, but he changed after Mom died. He said I was a loser, which I guess I kinda was, and he told me if I didn't get a job in two weeks, I was out. I didn't, so I left. I hitchhiked to my aunt's house in Oregon and lived with her for a few months. I got bored and started remembering how much fun we used to have, so I called your parents and decided to come and see you. I saved a little money and got a bus ticket. At one of the stopovers someone stole my bag and it had my ticket in it. I hitched rides to Austin. Took five days. When you weren't home, I was afraid you had gone to your parents' for Thanksgiving. But you didn't, so here I am! Yay!"
"Why didn't you go back to your aunt's? Not that I'm not glad you're here, but that seems like it would have been easier."
"Well, I got the feeling she was tired of me being around, sort of, and could use the break. Besides, I was halfway in between. It would have been just as much trouble."
"Man, that sounds crazy! Here I am, living a super-normal life, and you've gone through so much more than I have, I can't even begin to understand what it's like."
"I don't know, it's not that crazy, but it's not really normal, either, is it?"
He threw away our wrappers and cups and we just sat for about fifteen minutes, each in our own thoughts.
"I noticed you had a guitar," Gabe said, "Do you play?"
"No, not really," I laughed. "I got it last year. I can play the intro to Stairway to Heaven, but not much else. Do you?"
"Yeah. Mind if I play it?" I shook my head.
He pulled the guitar case out of the closet, played with the tuning for about five minutes before he got it right, and started srumming a few chords.
"Remember when we used to listen to Paul Simon at your house?" he said, and started playing the chords to one of his songs.
"Yeah - that was the only music they had that we liked. I remember that summer we learned all the words to one of the Simon and Garfunkel albums."
His face crinkled in a smile. He stopped playing. "We knew the harmonies and everything, didn't we? Do you think you still remember them?"
"I sure as hell do! I still love Paul Simon. I have a lot of his cd's."
"You think you can sing? I can still do the Art Garfunkel harmonies. Come on. It'll be fun."
"You can still do Garfunkel? I would have thought that would be impossible for you." I laughed. "Yeah, I think I can still sing. Want to try?"
He played the intro chords to one of our old favorites. We sang the entire song without a mistake. He was true to his word - he could sing Garfunkel's high, sweet harmonies even better than he had as a kid, before puberty. Afterwards, we goggled at each other, and without saying a word, he went into another. When that was done, he said, "I've got an idea."
"What is it? Want to make a record?" I joked.
"No, listen. I know a city like Austin has got to have a place where people can play music and lay out an open guitar case to make money, right?"
"Okay," he paused, "Let's go play. Let's see how much we can make. It'll be exciting."
I thought it over for a few seconds. It did sound like fun, but I wasn't used to singing in public.
"It's a deal. But let's get a little drunk first."
"Hah hah! You're so the shit," he proclaimed.
There is more to come very soon!This is my first submission to Nifty, so questions/comments/advice can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers!