By Tim Mead
After receiving the go-ahead from Adrian, Brody got two tickets for the Friday evening performance of Desire under the Elms. One afternoon on the way home he stopped at Penney's and bought a new tie. He thought it would give a new look to his navy blazer, his only dress-up outfit.
Though the snow had melted earlier in the week, by Friday it had turned cold again. He took his new parka to the university theater but decided to leave it in the car. He figured it was such a short distance from the parking lot to the lobby it wasn't worth the trouble. Adrian was wearing a Burberry raincoat over a black blazer and gray slacks.
"You're not going to wear your coat into the theater?"
"Well, I'm not going to freeze my ass off. And you can check your coat, you know. You don't have to hold it in your lap."
"I didn't want to wait around afterward."
"Well, you'll have to wait for me to get mine anyway."
"Okay, okay, Mother! I'll wear the damn coat."
"You know, that parka looks terrible over your blazer. You should get a good topcoat or at least a raincoat with a removable lining."
"Yeah, some day, maybe."
After they had checked their coats, taken their seats and were waiting for the curtain to go up, Dave Cromer came in and sat a few rows in front of them. It was the first time Brody had seen Dave dressed up. He, too, was wearing a dark blazer. `Man, he cleans up good,' Brody thought. `But he's sexiest in one of his work outfits.' Brody remembered that day just after he'd returned to Higgins when he and Cromer had exchanged angry words at a job site. Dave had really looked hot that day. `Gotta catch him alone sometime and see what it is he has to tell me.'
Adrian nudged him. "Brody, you spacing out on me? I've been talking to you, but you haven't heard a thing I've said."
"Sorry. Guess my mind wandered for a minute. When are they gonna get this show on the road?"
Brody's experience with live theater was limited to plays he'd seen while in high school. His parents weren't much interested in that kind of thing. He was surprised how much he enjoyed the production. He got carried away by the story. He was impressed by the sets, lighting, costumes, and makeup. Moreover, there was something he couldn't quite put his finger on that made this very different from seeing a movie. Even once or twice when the actors' timing was a little off it didn't take away from the magic.
"And that kid who played Eben was a hot little piece," Adrian said, smiling. They were sitting side-by-side with café royale as they watched the fire. "Actually, he looked a lot like you."
"And you'd describe me as a hot little piece?" Brody asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Well, not so little, maybe, but definitely hot." Adrian took a sip of his doctored coffee. "You look great in your blazer, by the way, but you really need to get some more dressy outfits. You can't just keep wearing the same blazer every time we go out."
"Yeah, I figured you'd get tired of seeing me in the same thing all the time. At least I got another tie. But the holidays are coming up, and I need to think about buying stuff for others, not for myself."
Adrian didn't respond to that. After a moment or two of silence he said, "Can you rearrange your work schedule a week from tomorrow? I want us to leave here about 11:00 for Cleveland."
"What's happening in Cleveland?"
"The CMA has a visiting collection of Hudson River School paintings. I thought we'd get there in time to grab a bite at the café, see the exhibit, and then go to Tower City and do some of the shops. We'll have dinner there and then come home."
Brody figured out from what Adrian had just said that "CMA" must mean the Cleveland Museum of Art. "That's the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I don't know whether I can get away or not."
"Pull rank! You're the boss's son."
Brody chuckled. "I'm still the grunt at the shop. The only people I outrank are the delivery guys. Or, gal and guy."
Adrian leaned over and kissed Brody's cheek. "See what you can do. I'd really like you to come with me." He looked at the fire. Then, looking out of the corner of his eye and grinning, he said, "I'll even let you drive the Jag."
"I'll try to get Sheila to swap times with me. Maybe I can work her shift on the day after Thanksgiving. You don't have to bribe me, you know. I don't mind you trying to introduce me to culture and couth." He grinned. "But I'll take you up on the offer to drive the Jag."
Later, in bed, Brody found himself lying on his back, legs spread apart, as Adrian simultaneously sucked his cock and wiggled a finger around in his ass. Brody, who loved having his ass played with, couldn't help sighing and groaning. "Ohhhh, that's fantastic! Yeah, daddy! Finger fuck me!"
Adrian removed his finger and slapped Brody's butt.
"Unnngh! What was that for?"
"I am not your daddy. That makes me sound so old! And, you know, you sound like something from a porn flick. `Hot piece' is the word for you. You really do love this, don't you?" He slid his finger back into Brody and began making circular motions with the pad of his middle finger on Brody's nut.
"Oh my god, man, you gotta fuck me! I need more than your finger. Please!"
"You really want that, baby?" Adrian chuckled.
"Bastard! You know I do! Don't torture me!"
While Brody wiggled his ass and urged him on, Adrian pulled on a condom, slicked up his pole and, pulling Brody's legs over his shoulders, pushed it slowly into Brody's twitching hole.
Brody came quickly, pumping cum all over his abs and chest, but he remained hard and continued to exclaim about how much he loved it as Adrian slowly worked toward his own climax.
When they had cleaned up, Brody was again lying on his back. This time Adrian was lying on his side, his head resting on Brody's chest. Brody had an arm around his sleeping friend.
He felt empty. He wiggled his hips a little, but that only made things worse. His cock grew hard as he remembered Adrian's finger and then his cock inside him. `I never would have thought I'd like bottoming so much, but Adrian makes it so fantastic! What's happening to me? I'm like a hand puppet. Whenever he wiggles his finger, I jump!'
It was late before he was able to fall asleep.
He got up at 6:00 as usual, took a quick shower, wrote the still-sleeping Adrian a note, and left. He wanted to get to the gym for a workout before he opened the shop. After the gym he went home and changed into his uniform shirt and jeans, had OJ, cereal and coffee, and arrived at the shop at 8:55.
It turned out to be a hectic morning. Sheila and Missy were setting up flowers in a church for a wedding that afternoon. Bob was manning the Colby store by himself, and Brody was alone at the shop in Higgins. Because it was the Saturday before Thanksgiving, people were phoning in orders for the holiday as well as coming in to make purchases for their weekend entertaining. They had a larger than usual supply of made-up arrangements in anticipation of the holiday demand, but Brody was still kept busy making up arrangements to order, answering the phone, and the like.
When, about 10:00, Justin came in, Brody said, "Hey, little bro! Where's your buddy?"
"He and his folks went to Findlay to have an early Thanksgiving with his mom's parents. The Kellers are having Gary's dad's folks here for Thanksgiving."
"Well, buddy, I could really use your help if you can stick around. It's a zoo here this morning."
Flashing his cocky smile, Justin said, "Okay, but you'll owe me."
"I'll see you're paid at your regular rate and take you to lunch after we close. Will that do?"
"Yeah, but you'll owe me." He chuckled.
"Right! Now, will you get the phone?"
"That's aye, aye sir!"
Justin flipped him the bird as he answered the phone.
The two were as busy as the proverbial one-armed paperhanger all morning. They didn't even have time to stop for a break. Although the shop supposedly closed at noon on Saturdays, the steady procession of people in and out didn't end until Brody locked the door at 1:00.
"Jus, I have one more arrangement to do up. After that we can eat. Then I'll have to come back here and make the deliveries, since old man Graniello's sick today."
"No prob, Brode. I'll help you with the arrangement. Just tell me what flowers you want, and I'll hand them to you."
Working together they were done in twenty minutes. Brody took enough money from the till to pay Justin for three and a half hours' work. He left a note for the bookkeeper, hoping she wouldn't be too pissed with him. They locked up the shop and took both their cars to the Burger King.
Although the place was jumping, a couple was leaving a table for two in a corner just as they were looking for one.
"Jus, thanks, man, for coming by. I'll bet you didn't expect to get put on work detail this morning, did ya?"
Justin grinned. "No, but that's cool. With Gary away, I didn't have anything else to do this morning. And with Christmas coming up, I can use the extra cash."
They talked about their holiday plans. Justin and his folks were going to Lima for Thanksgiving and would drive back the same day. Brody was, of course, invited to have thanksgiving with Bob, Samantha, and the kids. He had thought he might work out on Friday and then get caught up on his schoolwork, but he'd agreed to work at the shop on Friday so Sheila would take his Saturday morning duty. Saturday, he explained, he was going to Cleveland with Adrian.
"What does Mr. Sexy have in mind for you in Cleveland?" Justin asked waggling his eyebrows.
"There's some exhibit at the Museum he wants to see. Then he said we'd go back downtown so he could do some shopping at Tower City. And after that, dinner at one of the restaurants there."
"Ya gonna do all your Christmas shopping? It'll be like totally crowded."
"Shit, man, I can't afford to shop at Tower City. Those are all upscale places, or they were the last time I was there."
"Yeah, I think they still are. But you'll prolly get a good dinner out of it. There are some pretty fancy restaurants there."
"I honestly don't know. But you're right. With Adrian, there's no chance we'll be eating fast food. Although he did say we're gonna have lunch at the café in the museum."
They ate in silence. Or, they ate without speaking, since the BK was at its noisiest on that early Saturday afternoon.
After he'd inhaled his double bacon cheeseburger, fries, and cola, Justin said, "Brode, I want a milkshake, but I'll pay for it."
Brody reached into his jeans and pulled out a five-dollar bill. He handed it to the boy. "No way! I promised you lunch, and I'm going to see that the growing boy gets fed. Just be careful you don't wind up with a gut." Justin chuckled and went to get back in line.
When he returned, Justin put the change on the table. "Thanks, Sarge."
"Hey, Jus, thank you! I'd have been fucked without you this morning. I'm lucky you came by and were willing to help out."
"It's cool. Like I said, I didn't have anything better to do with Gary being gone and all." He took a long pull on his milkshake. "Speaking of Gary, I'm still waiting for you to tell me what you thought of him."
"You like him a lot, don't you?"
"Yeah. But that's not the question."
"It doesn't really matter what I think of Gary if you like him, does it?"
"What do you mean? Of course it matters!" He set down his shake and looked challengingly at Brody. "You do like him, don't you?"
"Sure, Jus, he's all right."
"All right? Just all right?"
"Come on, guy, I didn't really get to know him very well, and you like him."
"No, that won't do. It's pretty clear you didn't like him, and I want to know why."
Brody sighed, sucked the last of his cola out of the container, and set it down. "You're making me say this."
Justin was still looking steadily at Brody. "Whatever it is, just say it!"
"I didn't have much chance to really get to know Gary. Keep that in mind. But he doesn't make a good first impression. At least he didn't on me."
"Yeah? Go ahead."
"He has a flabby handshake. He needs to hit the gym. He never smiles. Jus, that all adds up to dweeb."
"If he had lots of money and took me to fancy places and bought me fancy meals, would that make a difference? What do you and Lynch have in common except for the sex? At least with Gary and me, we have things in common, stuff to talk about. Do you and the guy who's practically keeping you?"
He stood up, took from his wallet the money Brody had paid him for working that morning and put it on the table. "Besides, maybe there was a reason why Gary was so quiet at the shop. Did that ever occur to you? You fuckin' just don't understand."
He turned and went straight to the door. Brody grabbed Justin's money from the table and followed him. Outside in the parking lot, he said, "Come on, Jus! I'm sorry! Tell me what it is I don't understand." But Justin got in his car and sped out of the parking lot. Brody thought about following him but decided it would be better to give the boy time to cool off before he tried once more to apologize. He mentally kicked himself all the way back to the shop.
* * *
Deliveries made, Brody sat brooding in his chair by the window. Watching the activity in the now nearly leafless but by no means lifeless trees outside. The fat red squirrel helped himself in the feeder as red-throated house finches chided from the tree.
He was such a stupid fuck! He had come to love Justin, despite the rocky start they got off to. And he'd really hurt the kid. He'd tried to be tactful, diplomatic about Gary, but obviously he didn't know how to do that. He wondered what, exactly, there was about Gary that he didn't know, didn't understand. After Justin had calmed down he'd see him again and try to find out.
Then there was what Justin had said about him and Adrian. Hurled at him in anger, of course. But some of what the kid had said came painfully close to what he'd been thinking. Had Justin seen all this and refused to say anything about it out of loyalty, out of love? Saying it finally only when stung by Brody's heavy-handedness? Probably.
* * *
Brody knew he shouldn't wait too long to apologize. The end of that week everyone would be busy with the Thanksgiving holiday and its aftermath. He got back to Higgins just a little after six on Monday evening. Without waiting to have supper, he called the Quinn's. Justin's mother said they were having dinner but that she'd ask Justin to call him back if he was going to be home that evening. Brody decided he'd stay in and fix something to eat rather than going out so he'd be sure to be there.
Justin called at 6:30.
"Brode, it's Jus."
"Hey, man. Thanks for calling back. Can I come over? I need to talk with you."
"I suppose. I've got some homework, but not a lot. I guess I can interrupt it for a while."
"I promise not to stay long. How about if I come over right now?"
When he arrived, Moira greeted him warmly. She said she was leaving to go to the mall and that her husband was working in the study, so Justin and Brody could use the family room.
"But he does have to finish his homework, so you won't stay too long, will you, Brody?"
"No, ma'am. This shouldn't take long."
"Wonderful! If I don't see you again, you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!"
"Thanks, you too!"
Justin came down the stairs. "Hey, Brode. Let me hang up your coat."
"That's all right, I'll just throw it on a chair. Your mom said we could talk in the family room."
When they were sitting on either end of the sofa, turned to face each other, Brody began, "Little brother, I'm really sorry. I should have kept my thoughts about Gary to myself. I trust your judgment, and if you say he's okay, then he's okay."
"Yeah, he is okay. And like I said, there's something I should have told you."
"Uh huh. You see, I told Gary how much I liked you right after school started, when he and I were just friends. He helped a lot when I had to get used to the idea that you didn't feel about me the way I feel, uh felt, about you. He was so nice, and he helped me get through a down time. But that's not the point."
"Well, it sounds as if I've been a total schmuck and Gary's been a good friend."
"Never a schmuck! What you didn't know about Gary is that he was intimidated by you. I'd talked so much about you, about how great looking you are, how strong, how much fun to be around, how we can jerk each other's chains and laugh together. He'd seen that picture upstairs of you in your uniform. I think he was just awed when he finally met you. He's usually bright, clever, a lot of fun. You just weren't seeing the real Gary."
"And it's all my fault!"
Justin grinned. "Well, you can't help being a pretty impressive dude, ya know." Then his face fell. "And Brode, I'm so sorry, man, for what I said about you and Adrian at the BK. What's going on between you and him isn't my business, is it? You know I love you, and if he makes you happy, then I'll be happy." He chuckled. "Listen to me! I sound like a mother!"
Brody stood up and held out his arms. Justin stood up and took a couple of steps toward Brody, who wrapped him in a bear hug.
"Geez, dude, you are strong!"
"Are we cool?"
"Yeah, we're cool."
"Then when we get past this holiday, I want you and Gary to come over to my place. I'll fix us some supper and I can get to know this guy better."
Justin put his hands on his throat and went "Gawwwwkkk! You can cook?"
Brody laughed. "I promise not to poison you. I've learned to make a pretty good spaghetti sauce."
Justin smiled. "If you say so. I'll tell Gary."
"Well, tell him I don't bite, okay? Tell him if he's your friend, he doesn't have to prove himself to me." Brody bopped Justin on the shoulder. "Of course he does, really, but don't tell him."
After another hug, Brody took Justin's pay from his pocket and stuffed it into the front pocket of Justin's jeans. "Now, twerp, get back up there and do your school work."
Brody laughed. "What do you think I'm going to do now?"
"Go see Adrian?"
"You're way off. I'm goin' home to do my school work."
* * *
Brody was finished with the next day's assignments by 9:45 that evening. He wasn't ready to go to sleep yet, so he decided to stretch his legs and walk to Gridley's for a beer. In the back of his mind was the idea that Dave Cromer might show up and he could demand an explanation of all the cryptic comments he'd been making.
Dave wasn't at Gridley's when Brody arrived, but someone else showed up.
Brody was sitting in a booth staring at his beer when a voice said, "Um, can I sit down?"
He turned his head to find himself looking at faded blue jeans with a nice bulge in them. Looking up, he saw a smiling face with dark brown eyes framed by straight black hair. A familiar face, but one to which he couldn't put a name.
"Sure, join me."
The guy slid into the booth opposite Brody. He was wearing a black tee with a gray plaid flannel shirt over it. "You don't recognize me, do you?"
"Your face is familiar, but sorry, I can't come up with a name."
"I'm Roger Norton. I work in the men's department at Dillard's."
"Oh, sure. I guess I just didn't recognize you because I associate you with the store."
"Yeah, I get that all the time. So you live here in Higgins? Didn't you tell me you go to CSU?"
"Yeah, I've lived here all my life, except for four years in the Marines."
"We moved here when I was starting my junior year in high school. That was four years ago."
"Where do you live?"
"In one of the houses on Front Street facing the park."
"What year are you at the university?"
"I'm a junior."
"That would make you about twenty?"
"Yup." Roger took a swallow of his beer.
Brody wondered about Roger having a beer when he wasn't twenty-one yet. But then he figured Roger wasn't the first underage college student to have an illegal drink. He studied the man opposite him, who had a square face. His beard was just beginning to show some five o'clock shadow.
"I think you said you work weeknights?"
Roger smiled, and his dark eyes snapped. "You remembered. Cool!"
"So you worked tonight?"
"Yeah, went home, changed out of the work duds, and thought I'd stop by here."
Brody lifted his glass. "Well, Rog, it's nice to see you again."
Roger returned the salute. "And it's nice to see you, Brody." They both drank. Then Roger continued, "I believe you said you had a guy in your life."
"You have a good memory. Do you remember everything your customers tell you?"
"Only when they're as sexy as you."
"I can't believe you don't have a boyfriend."
"I did have, but he transferred to Kent State this year. So I'm single again."
"Well, Colby should be a good place to find another guy."
Roger shrugged. "No luck so far." He smiled. "Too bad you're taken. I'd love to get to know you better."
"Hey, Rog, we can be friends. Just not `that kind' of friends, okay?"
Brody looked across the room. Although he hadn't seen them come in, Dave Cromer was sitting in a booth with three other guys whom Brody didn't recognize. They looked a little older than Dave. Dave looked up, saw Brody and Roger, smiled, and nodded.
Brody nodded back.
He and Roger talked for a while longer. Then Roger said he still had some studying to do so he'd better get home. He offered Brody a lift, but Brody explained that he was within walking distance. After the two had wished each other a good evening, Brody looked again at the booth where Dave was sitting. The four were engaged in animated discussion of something, something that was also producing lots of laughter. Deciding this wasn't the time to confront Dave, he went home.
That night he dreamt he was a happy participant in an orgy. He, Adrian, Dave, Pete, Justin, and Roger were all naked, sweaty, slithering around in a blur of arms, legs, cocks, and asses. He woke up with an urgent erection.
`Well,' he thought as he reached for his throbbing cock, `that's at least better than blood, fire, and body parts. It's better to wake up with a woodie than to wake up screaming.'
As always, thanks to Mickey and Drew for their encouragement and editorial help.
If you'd like to email me about this story, please do at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to put the story title in the subject line so I'll know it isn't spam. Thanks. --Tim