by Mickey S
If you are under age, or live in an area where reading stories that include sex between males is illegal, or if you're not into this type of story, please leave. My thanks to Tim and Drew for all of their help. The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent. Comments are appreciated at NJMcMick@yahoo.com.
For the second time in a little over a month, I was standing in line for the security check at Terminal C at Newark Liberty Airport, waiting what seemed like forever to go see Mom. It was only five weeks since Grandma and I had flown out to Cleveland for Art's funeral. I'd offered to fly back to Florida with Mom then, but she said that while she'd love for me to come for a long visit, first she needed some time by herself, so I went back with Grandma.
It was just as well. I was in the middle of building a web site for a new client and Tracie and Melinda didn't have anyone lined up to play at the restaurant, not that they really needed live entertainment. But Mom's choice enabled me to go home to my studio apartment in the East Village (it was really the Bowery, but that didn't sound as nice), finish up the site, make sure my other clients were taken care of and give notice to the girls, oops, women, that they'd need someone to fill in for a while.
So there I was in early May, this time flying to Ft. Lauderdale, this time ready for a long visit with my favorite redhead. As the line inched forward I pondered Mom's atrocious luck with men. Actually, my friend Seth from college had always said there was no such thing as luck; everyone created their own reality by the choices they made. You either took charge of your circumstances or they took charge of you. I never quite knew what he meant by that but I knew that while Mom had made some bad choices, she also had some rotten luck.
I finally reached the uniformed middle-aged black woman at the head of the line and handed her my ticket and photo ID. She looked at them both and then at me.
"You've changed your hair."
I shrugged. In the picture on my license my thick, very red hair was longish and shaggy, hanging down over my forehead, almost a bowl cut. But at thirty-two I was tired of being asked for ID every time I went into a club, not that I did that very often, so the week before I had decided to change my look. My hair stylist had suggested what she called a faux-hawk, very short on the sides and longer and spiked up down the middle. I still wasn't used to the change and to be honest wasn't crazy about it, but at least I didn't look 18 anymore. Of course, it wasn't just the hair that made me look young. At 5"8" and 140 pounds I had a boyish build in spite of spending three afternoons a week at the gym.
"I like it better in the picture." She handed my papers back to me. "Have a nice trip, Mr. Martin."
As I waited for them to announce boarding at the gate I wondered if I had inherited Mom's bad luck with men in addition to her red hair. I was only 32 and I still had plenty of time to find Mr. Right so I wasn't too worried. And so far I had made a pretty good life for myself outside of the romance department. With a degree in computer science I had started my own business, Jack Martin Enterprises, building web sites for very small businesses and then serving as their webmaster, if they wanted. I deliberately kept my list of clients short so I could devote the time necessary to each and have time for myself as well. Weekends I played guitar and sang 60s folk songs in a coffeehouse/bistro run by a couple of lesbian friends. Between the two jobs I made a comfortable living, but that was mostly because my needs were simple.
Forty-five minutes later I had my laptop tucked under the seat in front of me and was sitting in my aisle seat about halfway back on Continental's flight 701. A couple somewhat younger than me with a whimpering baby had the window and middle seats. I'd offered to switch to the window so they wouldn't be climbing over me all through the flight but they were happy with the seats they had. I plugged my iPod into my ears, made a music selection and closed my eyes, tuning them out. As the jet took off, my thoughts went back to Mom and her luck with men.
First, there was my father, or the sperm donor as I affectionately referred to him. He was a bass player in the house band at a bar my mother frequented in nursing school. Mom says he was hot - early twenties, average height, slim, long blond hair, blue eyes. Apparently, he smoked a lot of pot and put away a lot of Jim Beam and Mom, only nineteen at the time, was impressed. When she told him she was pregnant, he decided the only place his career would ever take off was San Francisco, so he left, promising to send for her when he got settled. She never heard from him again.
Mom had gone to a good Catholic nursing school for a year and a half before she was thrown out for not being a good Catholic girl. She wasn't able to finish her education to become an RN by the time I was born, but she did manage to become a licensed practical nurse. It didn't pay as much, but it was enough, considering she was still living with her mother. Her father had passed away when she was in high school. Unfortunately, my grandmother wasn't any more thrilled than the nursing school about Mom's `loss of faith'. She didn't throw Mom out but she made her views on Mom's unwed pregnancy very clear. By the time I was one, Mom had had enough of Grandma's lectures and packed me up and went to San Francisco, looking for the sperm donor. She must have really loved him, or thought she did, anyway.
At any rate, she never found him. Not that she really thought she'd have much luck finding a nomadic musician named Jim Smith (yes, that really was his name) in a city full of nomadic musicians. But she took a liking to the city and wasn't thrilled with the idea of going back to live with Grandma, so we stayed.
Mom found a job in a hospital that had an onsite daycare center, so that's where I spent most of my time until I started school. When Mom went out socially it was usually to a rock club, probably still looking for the sperm donor. When I was four she met Dan, a former roadie who was a jack-of-all-trades at a club. It was apparently love at first sight because they were married in a matter of weeks. He turned out to be even less ambitious than he first appeared and worked less and less as time went on. In my only memories of him he's lying stoned on the couch, staring at the ceiling, music blasting on the stereo. Mom didn't put up with that for very long and divorced him when I was seven.
For her next venture into romance she went in the opposite direction, falling for Rob, an Army major stationed at the Presidio. Within months of their marriage he was transferred to Fort Campbell on the Kentucky-Tennessee border. While Clarksville, TN was a nice enough little city, both Mom and I experienced real culture shock after living in San Francisco for so long. And Rob really was the total opposite of Dan - a type-A, driven, intensely disciplined military man. His personality was also the opposite of Mom, who was an easy-going free spirit. They also differed on attitudes toward child rearing. I was nine when they married and twelve when Mom and I moved an hour down the road to Nashville to await divorce number two. For a year and a half she worked at the hospital at Vanderbilt University and by the time the divorce was final she had met Darren, a record producer.
Darren seemed a good compromise between Mom's two husbands - a laid back guy with a responsible job in the music industry. While Mom was a bit gun-shy about getting married again, she agreed to move to LA with him when he was offered a job there. We'd barely settled into a rented house in Silver Lake when his big flaw surfaced - a roving eye. He flirted with just about every woman under forty and seemed to want to fuck anyone who flirted back. Mom chose to believe it was harmless for the longest time. Even when it became obvious to me that he was doing more than just flirting, she looked the other way.
By this time I was in high school and had realized I was gay. I came out to Mom almost as soon as I knew it myself. She and I had always been close and during my childhood in San Francisco she had had a number of gay friends. Darren didn't seem at all bothered by my sexual orientation either. Apparently he had met lots of gay folks in the music business. While I was open about being gay, I hadn't yet done anything about it.
One summer afternoon when I was sixteen I was home alone taking a shower when the shower door opened. There was Darren, naked and smiling.
"Hey, I'm in here, asshole! Wait your turn."
I'd seen him nearly naked around the house many times and he had a pretty good body for a man in his mid-forties. Now I could see that he was also very well-hung. I was trying not to stare at his dick and turned away from him. Instead of leaving, he came into the stall shower and closed the door behind him.
"What the fuck are you doing? Are you high?"
Aside from his infidelity, Darren's other major character flaw was a fondness for cocaine. He wasn't an out-of-control addict, but he partook more often than Mom liked.
"Of course, Jack my boy. You should be too."
`What do you mean? Get out of here!"
"Not till I've given you a little lesson in pleasure. We don't want you getting your sex ed from one of your inexperienced classmates, do we?"
"What are you talking about? Leave me alone!" He had pushed me against the tile wall and had pressed his body against mine. I could feel his hardening dick against my left butt cheek.
"I've been admiring that cute little ass of yours for some time. Now that you're legal I'm gonna show you how to have some real fun with it."
He held me in place with his right hand while his left hand slid down along my side, squeezing my butt. I struggled to get away from him but it was no use. He was 6"2 and over 200 pounds. At that point I'd barely begun my growth spurt and was only 5"4" and no more than 120 pounds. He completely overpowered me.
He spread some of the liquid soap on my ass, working it into my ass crack. I squirmed trying to get away, hoping if I kept moving he wouldn't be able to pierce me with what felt like a humongous prick. As his rod slipped between my cheeks I let out a yell. He quickly covered my mouth with his soapy hand.
"No need for that, Jackie. No one can hear you anyway. Besides, you're gonna love this," he whispered in my ear.
I bit down as hard as I could on his fingers, not caring that I got a mouthful of soapsuds. This time he was the one screaming as he took his hand away. He thumped me on the back of the head. I took advantage of his discomfort and almost pulled free of him, letting out a blood-curdling scream at the same time. He knocked me down onto the floor and threw himself on top of me. Just then the door opened again and Mom was standing there speechless.
"Get him off me! He's out of his mind!"
A second later Darren collapsed on me with all his weight, then slid to one side, groaning horribly. I scrambled out from under him and saw he was lying on his side, clutching his balls. Apparently, Mom had made a perfectly aimed kick between his legs from behind. I threw my arms around her and began to cry, not caring that I was naked and dripping wet. She held me and stroked my head, making soothing sounds in my ear. After a minute I was more composed and she handed me a towel.
"Go get dressed and pack your things, Jack. We're leaving." She turned to Darren. "You've got sixty seconds to get out of here or I'm calling the cops."
In an hour Mom and I were in a packed car heading east on I-10. We drove straight through to Santa Fe.
Alison, a friend of Mom's from our San Francisco days, had moved to Santa Fe a few years before and opened an art gallery. We stayed with her for a short time until Mom got a job with a home health care agency and we could find a place of our own. I finished high school there and then went to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Mom seemed to have sworn off men during this period. She had a few friends and made a pretty good life for herself, but I was still hesitant to tell her when I decided shortly after graduation that I wanted to move to New York. Mom was originally from central New Jersey and Grandma still lived there. While she and Mom weren't especially close, we did go back to visit now and then and I had fallen in love with the city on those trips.
Mom's `time out' from men didn't last long once I'd gone east. A few months later she met Art, a widowed retiree from Cleveland who was 20 years her senior. He was on a group tour of the southwest and happened into Alison's art gallery one day while Mom was helping out there. They had a couple of dinners together and then corresponded after he'd gone back home. He must really have been smitten with her because a month later he returned and stayed several weeks, a visit that ended with a small, impromptu wedding.
Art was very well-off and had three grown children who were appalled at his remarriage to a woman he barely knew, one who was only a few years older than they were, and a hot redhead to boot. They viewed Mom as a gold digger and didn't even try to get to know her once she moved to Cleveland with Art. After a few months of this family tension, Art decided they'd all be happier if he and Mom lived at his winter house in Boca Raton.
It appeared that at the age of 43, Mom's luck with men had changed. Art was a good husband; he didn't drink, do drugs or cheat. He adored Mom and took great care of her. But after they'd been in Florida three years, he had a massive stroke. It was touch and go for a while but he survived, although he had some permanent paralysis on his left side. While he was confined to a wheelchair after that and needed help with almost everything, they still managed to have a decent life. They got a van with a lift for his motorized wheelchair and were able to get out quite a bit. But over the years a series of minor strokes slowed him down and for the past few years Mom had pretty much become his full-time home health nurse.
So maybe her luck hadn't changed after all. She'd finally found a good man and it hadn't lasted. It was just a tease, a reminder of how life could be but wasn't. But through it all, she didn't give up. From the sperm donor to Dan to Rob to Darren to Art, she stayed the same upbeat, bubbly, perky little redhead. She was an eternal optimist and always saw the bright side of life. Sure, she had her down moments, but then she picked herself up and moved on, hopeful that whatever was around the corner would be better. She'd passed along her general optimism to me although I'd never been quite as 'perky' as her.
As I approached the baggage claim area at Ft. Lauderdale Airport, I could see Mom jumping up and down, waving madly at me. She hadn't changed much my whole life. She still wore her thick red hair (her natural color although she had it `refreshed' every couple of months) fairly short and, while she'd put on a few pounds over the years, she was still fairly petite at 5'2". She could easily have passed for 15 years younger than her 52. I rushed over to her and threw my arms around her.
"Oh, it's so good to see you again, Jack." She held me close for a minute and then pushed me away to look at me. "What's with the hair?"
"I decided it was time for a change."
"But you looked so cute with it the way it was."
"Maybe I'm tired of looking cute."
"You not gonna be cute your whole life. Take advantage of it while you can."
"It hasn't gotten me much so far."
"You're just getting started, Jack. Don't give up so soon."
"I'm not talking about giving up, just trying something new."
"Well, you know looks aren't everything. It's what's inside that counts and a new haircut isn't going to change that."
"Yes, Mom." It's easier to just agree with her sometimes. The conveyer belt had started up and the bags were coming out. For a change my suitcase wasn't the last one. I grabbed it and we went outside for the car.
As Mom pulled onto I-95 north I turned toward her.
"So how are you doing? Really doing."
"I'm okay, hon. I've told you that on the phone. Several times, in fact."
"Yeah, but sometimes it takes a while for things to sink in. I know you loved Art and he was your whole life the past few years."
"Yeah, I miss him terribly, but after almost losing him with the first stroke, I just viewed every day after that as a bonus. He looked at it that way, too. So we made the best of what time we had. Sure, I wish he'd enjoyed better health and lived longer, but we had a good ten years." There she was with her glass-half-full point of view, as always.
"So have you heard from Art's kids since the funeral?"
"Their lawyer is in touch with my lawyer. That's it."
"They're not going to make trouble for you, are they?"
"I doubt it. Art always made it clear he was leaving me the house down here. There's a small insurance policy I'm the beneficiary of also. They get everything else. They'd be idiots to challenge that since there was no prenup. After ten years of marriage I could claim half the estate, not that I would."
"You don't want to do even a little gold digging?" I grinned at her.
"You know better than that. I've always supported myself and always will."
We went to dinner at an open air restaurant on the intercoastal that evening. As we were eating our appetizers, Mom caught me ogling the maitre d`.
"So, anything new in your love life, Jack?"
"What love life?"
"That's what I was afraid of. You're gay and living in New York. How can you not find someone to at least date?"
"I guess I'm not looking right now. You know I don't have the best track record when it comes to love."
"Ah, there you go with the famous Martin curse again."
"Well, it may not be a curse, but it sure looks like it, doesn't it? You managed to break your string of bad luck when you found Art, but how many tries did it take?"
"Okay, I`ll grant you that your experiences with Dr. Phil and Richard didn't turn out the best, but they were only two people and you were young. Don't let those two bad apples spoil your whole life."
"Believe me, I'm not. But like I said, I'm just not looking right now."
Actually, there were a couple of other bad apples, as Mom called them, but the other relationships hadn't lasted as long and she wasn't aware of them. And I'd had a number of crappy dating experiences, but then who hasn't? So I wasn't writing off the possibility of romance but I was a little leery of my taste in men.
That night I lay in bed for a long time, unable to sleep, thinking about my own checkered past. I usually tried not to dwell on it, thinking instead about the present or future, or maybe focusing more on the lives around me than my own. There was nothing one could do about the past anyway, except hopefully learn something from it.
The main thing I'd learned from Philip, or Dr. Phil as Mom liked to call him, was that some people were a lot more shallow than they appeared. Philip was my English professor freshman year of college. I'd always been attracted to guys somewhat older than myself. Maybe it was my way of looking for the father figure I'd never had. Okay, maybe it was more than maybe. Anyway, at thirty-six he was exactly twice my age and nearly as old as Mom. He was handsome, intelligent, mature and interested in me. At first I thought it was an innocent teacher-student interest. All of our conversations were in class or immediately following. But when I handed in my final exam, he handed me back a card. It just said, 'Call me' and had a phone number on it.
I couldn't imagine what he wanted to say to me now that my course with him was over, but I called him a few days later. He said he wanted to discuss some points I'd raised in a discussion at our last class and invited me to dinner. I wasn't totally na´ve and suspected his motives, but I agreed to meet him. It was a pleasant dinner and he didn't come on to me, other than being very attentive and interested in what I had to say. I enjoyed the evening and when it was over agreed to go out with him again a few nights later. We had three more 'dates' such as that, each time with him showing more and more interest in me as a person. By the time he invited me to dinner at his condo, we'd established that we were both gay and it was clear we were interested in each other.
When he learned that I was a total virgin, he was very considerate and didn't pressure me. I spent that night with him but we just cuddled in bed before falling asleep. It took a few more nights together before I felt ready to go any further. And when I was ready for my first time, he was gentle and loving. By then, I had fallen in love with this wonderful man. By the end of the summer he asked me to move in with him and I didn't hesitate. For my last three years of college we were a happy couple. Sure, we had to be discreet about our relationship. I didn't take any more of Philip's classes but even so it would have been frowned on for a professor to be living with a student.
Things were still great between us when I graduated. I'd been planning on taking a job with a successful, local dotcom company so it seemed I was on track, both romantically and career wise.
The day after graduation, Philip took me out to dinner at one of the best restaurants in the city to celebrate. I spent most of the meal floating in a haze of contentment, but was a bit surprised when toward the end of the meal he asked me about my plans. He knew all about the local company that had offered me a job.
"I've pretty much decided to take the job we were talking about. It's not perfect but it's a good place to start my career and it's certainly convenient."
"Don't you think you could find something better in California, or maybe the Northeast?"
"Sure, I suppose I could, but my life is here. You're here."
"You can't base your future on me and where I live. You're young and just starting life. You have to think of yourself and do what's best for you."
"Of course I'm thinking about what's good for me, but that means more than just my job. I love you and your career is here. It would be very hard to maintain a long distance relationship and that`s not what I want. I know I can find a job here that will make me happy."
Philip shook his head. "You're letting your heart overrule your head, babe. You know I love you and the past three years have been wonderful, but it's time for you to move on. You're an adult now and you have to get your life started right. It's time for you to leave the nest and strike out on your own."
"You're telling me we should break up?" I asked disbelieving. He wasn't exactly dumping me but urging me to dump him. "Is that what you want?"
"What I want is for you to have the best life possible, and I think there are better opportunities for you outside of Albuquerque. If you stayed here because of me I'd always feel I was holding you back, that you were sacrificing your career for me. I don't want that."
"But I can have both a career and you if I stay here."
"Tell you what. Go to San Francisco and look around for a few weeks. Then do the same in New York. Put me out of your mind completely and think only of yourself and what you want. If you come back after that and still want to stay in Albuquerque, we'll talk again."
So I did what he asked although my heart wasn't in it. I enjoyed the summer, more in New York than San Francisco, but I was determined to go back home to stay with Philip.
When I got home in late July however, I discovered that Philip had made other plans. He had a nineteen year old incoming sophomore ready to move in and take my place. I later found out that was his pattern - take an underclassman in, love him wonderfully for three years and then dump him, having already lined up a replacement. Apparently he was incapable of maintaining a lasting relationship and found guys over 22 too old. I had thought I was the one who was emotionally stunted, looking for a father-figure but, looking back, he was the one who was really fucked up. At the time though I was devastated I just wanted to get away and Mom understood when I went to stay with Grandma in New Jersey.
I lived with my grandmother for nearly two years, working in the IT department of a nearby community college, slowly starting up my own web page building company, spending most of my free time in the city. I dated occasionally, but wasn't able to get over my broken heart for a long time. Then I met Richard.
Richard was a lawyer in his late thirties who had a small loft in Tribeca. Just over six feet tall with short black hair, a trimmed 'stache and goatee and a devilish leer, he caused a stirring in my pants when I met him at a party in the East Village. While I normally didn't have sex on the first date, my little head was doing the thinking that night and I went home with him.
We were a couple from that night on. While I still lived with Grandma, I spent every weekend with Richard. And they were packed weekends - shows, concerts, museums, parties, and sex, lots of sex. Richard was bright, witty, interesting, fun and hot. He did dabble in recreational drugs, mostly pot and coke, and after Mom's experiences with men and their drugs I was wary, but dabble was the right word for his usage. As in every other aspect of his life, he was firmly in control, so much so that I relaxed and allowed myself to dabble along with him. When he suggested we try crystal meth one weekend, I was hesitant because I`d read such terrible things about it, but he assured me he`d take care of me, so I went along. The high was terrific and the sex was amazing and I didn't feel like a druggie afterwards, so when he suggested it again the next weekend I didn't hesitate.
Soon we were doing crystal every weekend but I wasn't concerned about addiction because I went all week without any and had no problem. Even when I began to get cravings late in the week, tensing up, being agitated, wanting SOMETHING, I didn't connect it to the drug. I thought I was just missing Richard.
Then one Friday night we got high before going to a party. Usually when high I was a bit fuzzy on the details of what we did, but this time I didn`t remember the party at all. When I woke up it was daylight and I was naked on a couch. Two other naked, sleeping guys were in the room, one on a chair and one on the floor. Neither one was Richard. I carefully got to my feet, feeling dizzy and unsteady, and stumbled across the room to a hallway. I looked in the door on the right and there were two naked men sleeping in a bed. Again, no Richard. I turned and looked in the room across the hall and there he was, asleep in a king-sized bed with two other guys. I suddenly felt the urge to empty my bladder so I stepped into the bathroom. While relieving myself I realized how sore my butt was and was comforted when I looked down and saw a few used condoms in the waste basket.
I went back out to the living room and managed to find my clothes from those strewn about the room. I got dressed and sat and tried to think, tried to remember what I'd done the night before. My mind was a blank and it scared me. I wasn't a prude by any means but I did like to know who I was having sex with and what I was doing. I depended on Richard to take care of me but who knows how in control he had been. Clearly we had slept in different rooms with different people. I was suddenly overcome by the desire to get the hell out of that apartment. I went into the bedroom to try to rouse Richard but aside from a couple of grunts and a little smile when he briefly opened his eyes, he was still out of it. I found some paper and a pen in the kitchen, wrote him a short note and left it on the pillow next to him. It was only late morning on Saturday, but I went back home to Jersey. I needed time to think. The reality of what I might have done scared me. The train was just pulling into the Fanwood station when my cell phone rang.
"Hey baby, where are ya? From your note I expected you to be at the loft when I got back here."
"Well, I guess I didn't make it clear but that's because my head's not too clear. I need some time to think so I decided to go home."
"What's the matter? Didn't you have fun last night? You sure seemed like you were having a ball."
"I don't know. That's just it. I don't remember shit about the party and I don't like that."
"Okay, so maybe we took too much stuff last night. We'll cut back next time."
"I don't think I want a next time, not like that."
"I told you, we'll reduce the dose. No problem."
"I don't know. I think there is a problem I've got to work out. Give me some time, okay, Richard?"
"Whatever. But don't obsess about it. And if you want to talk, call me."
The feelings of craving and agitation were stronger that week, starting much earlier and getting progressively worse. I had to face the idea that I wasn't missing Richard so much as my body was going through withdrawal. I made up my mind that I wasn't taking a lower dose with Richard next time; I wasn't taking any more crystal, ever.
On Wednesday, my whole world was shaken when I got a call from one of the guys who had been at the party. He wanted to get together with me again. Apparently I'd given him my number at the party and he couldn't understand why I wasn't interested in seeing him. I listened in shock as he described how great I'd been as the `party favor', how every guy there had enjoyed my ass. What blew me away though was when he said that Richard told them he'd spent weeks `preparing' me for the event and how pleased he'd been that my performance had been a success.
Between that shocking news and the worsening withdrawal symptoms, I was hospitalized by the end of the week. It took four weeks of inpatient detox and rehab, then three months of intensive outpatient therapy and finally many months of twice a week NA meetings before I considered myself firmly on the road to recovery. While still in rehab I had written a letter to Richard breaking things off and refused to ever speak to him again.
After seven years of being clean and sober it got easier all the time, but I knew I would always be `recovering` as far as recreational substances were concerned. I had an occasional casual date, sometimes a second or third date with sex, but I still wasn't ready to trust my heart to another guy.
I'd planned to stay with Mom for three weeks and I soon got into a pattern. An hour or so on the beach in the morning, the only time of day I wouldn't burn to a crisp, then back home to take Mom out to lunch. I spent the afternoon working on the laptop and then we usually ate in. Occasionally, I'd take an afternoon off from work and go shopping or catch a movie. It was a nice, lazy vacation.
One afternoon when I'd been out to a mall, I came back to find Mom sitting at the kitchen table staring into space, a shoebox full of papers in front of her.
"Hey Mom, whatcha doin'?"
She started a bit. Clearly she hadn't heard me come in.
"Just taking a little trip down memory lane." She smiled and started organizing the papers, folding them and putting them into envelopes.
"Going through your old love letters?"
"Not exactly. Yes, they're old letters, but from a friend, not a lover. My old buddy, Johnny Nichols."
"Johnny Nichols? I don't remember ever hearing you talk about a boyfriend named Johnny."
"I told you, he was a friend, not a boyfriend. We met when I was starting nursing school and he was a freshman at Montclair State. His best friend was dating my best friend, so we ended up hanging out together a lot."
"And nothing developed between you? What was wrong with him?"
"Absolutely nothing. Maybe that's why I didn't fall for him. He was sweet, gentle."
"Don't be silly. Not all decent guys are gay. Besides, he'd just broken up with a girl. The idea of him being gay never even occurred to me."
"Okay, so he was one of the few nice straight guys. And you two were just friends."
"Yes. There was a special connection between us for a while. We started writing letters and just got carried away. For a while we wrote each other nearly every day,"
"How did you have that much to say to one another?"
"It wasn't hard. Sometimes we wrote about politics or social issues, sometimes it was just a sort of stream of consciousness thing, writing whatever popped into mind. Look at all the emailing and texting kids do today. They're in touch hourly, not daily."
"Yeah, but it's hard to imagine trying to connect like that through snail mail."
"Well, it didn't last very long for us. While it did, it was fun. As I said, it was a special connection." She smiled wistfully. "He used to call me Sweet Judy Blue Eyes, a not very original play on the Crosby, Still and Nash song. When I got tossed out of school for being a bad girl, he was the one I called to come get me and take me home."
So what happened?"
"Shortly after that he had to leave school due to some family problems. Once we were both out of school we both got wrapped up in our own lives and lost touch. But I kept the letters as a reminder of my innocent youth."
"Yeah, from what you've said your innocent youth didn't last all that long either."
"You should be the last one to criticize my loss of innocence, young man, since your existence is the result of it. Anyway, with all of the bad men I've been with over the years, I'm glad I saved these letters as a reminder that there are some good men out there. I named you after Johnny, you know."
A suspicion popped into my head. "Are you sure you didn't ever sleep with this Johnny, Mom? And when exactly did you lose touch with him?"
Mom laughed. "I know what you're thinking, Jack, and you're dead wrong. I never slept with him. And the last time I saw him was almost a year before you were born. Your father really is that shit, Jim Smith. Sorry, kid."
"It was just a thought. You never tried to look him up in all these years?"
"Well, I was pretty busy for the most part, what with my men and my boy. And you couldn't just Google someone 20 or 30 years ago. Besides, I usually prefer to look ahead, not back. After all, we have some control over our futures but we can't do anything about the past."