WARNING: This story contains graphic descriptions of sexual acts between men and MINOR boys. It is not true! The story is not intended to promote illegal acts against minors. I do not condone child abuse, however the love of boys is a different matter. Despite the prevalent attitudes of western society, men have loved boys throughout recorded history. It is my goal to help readers appreciate that love can exist between men and boys. If the subject of man/boy love offends you, if this material is illegal in your place of residence, or if you are under the legal age for such material, do not read further!
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Any similarity to individuals, living or dead, is entirely accidental. The sexual acts described in the story are the result of my imagination. I have not performed these acts, and I do not encourage others to perform them with minors.
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FINAL WARNING: If you are under the age of 18, if this material is illegal in your place of residence, or if man-boy relationships aren't your thing, then exit now and save yourself from a life of sin!
In a footnote to last week's story about the increasing popularity of sterilization of adult pedophiles, it appears that there is another motivation. An anonymous source at the National Institute for Sexual Health said that "while we at the Institute believe that the tax credits and the ability to avoid lifetime incarceration are factors in a pedophile's decision to be sterilized, another issue is increasingly involved in their decisions. The N.I.C.E. legislation apparently makes specific reference to men who become registered as pedophiles and who are voluntarily sterilized. NICE Men not only have the opportunity to provide mentoring to NICE boys, but are also given preference in the selection process. Since the two-strikes law does not apply to them after treatment, they are able to engage in a sexual relationship with a child without the threat of incarceration. The fact is that we are seeing a lot of adult pedophiles coming forward because of that, and not the tax credits."
Unlike a boy who passes through the NICE Boys program and receive conditioning to change his sexual orientation, a man who has been officially registered and treated for pedophilia receives no conditioning and continues to have the desires of a pedophile. However, his ability to act on his desires after emasculation, without replacement of testosterone is extremely limited. When asked during a telephone interview whether men who were mentoring NICE boys were also having sex with them, Dr. Jarvis Wright admitted the possibility. "The majority of NICE Men are having testosterone replacement instead of taking the annual tax credit. While it's likely that some men want to avoid the physical changes associated with emasculation, the fact is that most of them are doing it to maintain their sex drives." Dr. Wright is currently in Iraq researching the effectiveness of that country's mass sterilization program.
Robert Johnson, who is the Director of Mentoring at the Institute said that the majority of the mentoring relationships he has observed have been very successful. "I feel very strongly about the benefits of mentoring to both sides. I am sure that most NICE men and boys are as close as I am to my wife. Even though they don't share the same love as we do, with the sort of deep affection that I have observed in many mentoring relationships, I would expect to find physical expression."
In an interview with a focus group of ten unidentified parents of NICE Boys from the Northeast region, all of them generally approved of their sons' relationships with their mentors. "We need to remember that once the boys have attended the ETC Camp they have been conditioned to have a homosexual orientation," said one mother. "This is the only opportunity for my son, Jason, to find happiness. His mentor is a remarkable man, a man who is both a well-known computer scientist and an accomplished artist, and I am sure that he cares very deeply for my son. When I see them together, it's almost possible to convince myself that we have done the right thing for Jason. He is a very happy boy"
Under normal circumstances, Dustin Lane was calm and collected when he had to do something of great importance. He had gone through his entire life exerting rigorous intellect to analyze his intentions and evaluate the likely outcomes before he acted. Not that his entire life was planned out in advance. Far from it. He simply wanted to succeed at everything he did. Yet, as he sat in his car outside Daniele's home, he was nervous of failing at the most important time in his life. Finally, he was ready to act. Not that he hadn't thought about what he was going to do, because he had. He had thought about it without interruption. It was all that he thought about. Reason said `don't do it!' There was far too much at stake to risk. There was a chance of losing the boy he loved. However, reason no longer had a place in his decisions. He had decided what he was going to do the very day that Daniele got on the bus, although in truth by then he had been thinking about it for exactly two weeks. Indeed, the idea had taken form just a few moments after he had placed the cup on Daniele's testicles. That he had been the one who cheated Daniele of his manhood still sickened him. However, he had convinced himself that, onerous as the deed was, it was still better that he had taken the task away from Daniele. It was incomprehensible to him that a boy should have to do that to himself.
He had destroyed a part of the boy he loved, yet some things were simply inevitable. It was as if the outcome had been predetermined as part of some greater plan, as if the dice had been cast when Daniele had gone into the toilet at the ice-cream parlor with Nicky. He knew then. Both of them knew. There was no room for doubt from that point forward. He had watched Daniele very carefully after that. Just in case, because there was a chance that it would happen again if the opportunity presented it. More than a chance. It was guaranteed. And so they spent the hours in an awkward understanding, each realizing just how close to disaster they had come. It did not matter that the solemn ten-year-old had promised that he would never succumb to his desire again. It was something that could not be controlled simply by promises. Dustin had promised himself the same thing after Jeff, and it had worked until Daniele came into his life. For a boy-lover, it was just a matter of time until opportunity and lust came together. And with love, it was inevitable. It had been inevitable from the moment that Daniele had walked into the book store.
His finger tapped the steering wheel in a relentless rhythm, thinking the same thoughts that he had when he watched Daniele wave goodbye from the bus. It was a sacrifice for love. At the time, he had waved back and tried to put on a happy face for Daniele's benefit, yet his mind was already made up. His appointment had been made that later same day. Even then, his decision came not a moment too late. He was given an opportunity to participate in a pilot program. There were some risks, a more desirable result, but with consequences that he preferred not to dwell on. However, that was in the past. All he could do was hope for the best. In less than twenty four hours, Daniele would arrive back at the bus station.
Two weeks without Daniele. It seemed like a lifetime. He had written E-mails to him every day, sometimes several times a day, whenever he had a spare moment. Mostly, they were funny E-mails. E-mails that talked about customers in the Bookstop, the events of daily life, everything they had in common, everything that is except pedophilia. He avoided saying how much he missed Daniele, that he masturbated every night thinking about him, that he had not even so much as glanced at another boy.
Thankfully, Daniele's eagerly awaited E-mails also arrived daily, like clockwork, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, but they were still not frequent enough. They were in large part about the boys at the ETC camp, and the things they did. At least, Daniele had made some friends, and it sounded as if he was having a good time, but his E-mails had been so heavily censored that reading them was very difficult. He tried to read between the lines, looking for clues to the missing parts. For example, there was no reference to the treatment he was receiving, yet Dustin still felt Daniele's pain. He appreciated that the boy was changing and there was nothing that either of them could do to stop it. And while Daniele was changing, there was a single unalterable constant. Daniele was his best friend.
That was still the problem, Dustin realized as he sat there, watching the lights come on in Daniele's house. He was Daniele's best friend, and despite how much he wanted to be more than that, it was apparent Daniele would never be the lover that he really wanted, not unless he took the initiative. Sometimes, even to him, it was incomprehensible that a man and boy could love each other, really love each other, yet at other times it seemed so natural. That he loved Daniele made his life worth living. He sighed and shook his head. It was easy to despair. He breathed out. Friend or lover? That was the dilemma he had to face. Sooner or later he would have to admit that he loved a ten-year-old boy and accept the consequences of that love. He grimaced, ruefully appreciating the dilemma of being a boy-lover in an era that despised such inclinations. On the positive side, even if his relationship with Daniele failed to blossom beyond friendship, there was a modicum of dismal humor in that he had managed to avert the threat of lifetime incarceration that awaited perverts.
That evening had brought him to the Webster's home to set into motion something that might change his relationship with Daniele forever, or never. He took a deep breath, held back from exhaling for as long as possible. So much depended on the next few hours. If all went well,... Dustin sighed a groan of unrequited love for a boy who was several hundred miles away at a camp that he did not want to be at. He had spoken to Daniele's mother twice on the telephone since he had gone away to camp. Both times, she was polite, but reserved. At least she had listened to him, which was more than he had expected. He closed his eyes, reflecting on their last conversation. They had talked just the day before. That she had a mother's intuition sounded trite, but it existed nonetheless. He was left with the distinct impression that she knew far more about his relationship with her son than she was saying. She had extended an invitation to come for an early dinner to `talk about things' as she put it. Both of them knew what she was referring to.
Daniele's home was a small weary two-storey house, wood-framed with peeling paint in places and green-grey asphalt shingles on the roof that needed to replaced. He had driven past it before several times, but he had not stopped. He tried to tell himself that he was merely curious to see where Daniele lived, the place he graced by calling `home'. In Dustin's mind, Daniele deserved a palace. Instead, the house had a run-down look, not at all out of place in a neighborhood of similar houses. He winced, thinking of the small rooms that lay behind the façade of tired respectability. Upstairs was the eight by ten foot bedroom that Daniele shared with his older brother, a brother who he really did not like very much. He referred to his brother as `he who must be obeyed', among other more vulgar terms. His brother shared little more than his last name with Daniele.
With nothing else to do, Dustin opened the car door and began the walk to the front door. It was painted inexpertly in bright yellow, as if the sunny color could somehow overcome the dreariness of the rest of the house. There were rose bushes along the front of the house, but already the heat had shriveled the blooms of spring. The grass was parched, usual for late in the summer, but not when it still rained several times a week. It seemed to be saying that everything was in the process of dying at 1045 East Calhoun. Indeed, a part of Dustin had died when Daniele had been sent to the clinic for treatment. It was almost as bad when he went off to camp. Again, as he climbed the stairs, Dustin wondered again how much Daniele had changed over the last two weeks. ETC; education, training, and conditioning; contained an ominous message.
He knocked once and immediately heard voices behind the door. A woman's voice, a man's deeper bass tones, a teenage boy's voice that crackled with the sound of puberty. None of them sounded the least like Daniele. He missed the untainted sweetness of Daniele's soprano voice, the melodious inflection that said an accent was beginning to form, the cheerful greeting that the boy gave whenever he entered to book store. Listening to Daniele talk was like listening to music. He knew he was infatuated. He had been smitten the very first time that he had seen Daniele, standing on the stairs and looking down at him, seeing just his small feet dressed in scuffed sneakers and two thin brown legs that extended beyond faded denim shorts, yet they were muscular legs with knobby knees bearing the scrapes of childhood. The legs looked a lot like Daniele's legs. He had fallen in love with a boy's legs, he thought wryly.
The door opened. He had expected to be greeted by Daniele's mother. Instead, it was Daniele's older brother who opened the door, who stood before him with a calculating smirk, whose shrewd eyes scrutinized him and communicated in the persistent silence that he should not be there. He did not belong, not a one-time congressman-university professor-book-store owner. As he smiled in recognition of nothing in particular, he wondered how much Joel knew.It stood to reason that Daniele had told him something, if only because Daniele had told him a lot about his brother. He felt uncomfortable standing there, being examined by a boy who was what, thirteen years old? He certainly lacked his younger brother's enchanting smile. He was good looking, at least until one made the obvious comparison to Daniele.
"Hi, I'm Dustin Lane," he managed to say before Joel acknowledged his presence with anything more than a stare.
"Yeah, I figured."
"You're Joel," Dustin added. He stepped back so that Joel could open the screen door if he wanted. "You don't look like Daniele at all."
That was an understatement, if ever there was one. Like Daniele, he was Eurasian, with straight dark hair and eyes, but his features lacked the graceful elegance that made his brother cross the boundary between good looking and what most people considered to be `too beautiful for a boy'.
Joel shrugged impassively. "Yeah. Well that's for the good, I reckon."
He made no effort to open the screen door. As he stood there waiting to be allowed to enter Daniele's home, Dustin felt like he was looking into a bird cage. Indeed, Joel had a noticeably large nose, a nose that was very unlike Daniele's, cute, upturned, slightly impertinent nose. Upon closer inspection, he was nothing at all like Daniele. The antithesis, perhaps. Not the yin contrasted to Daniele's yang, for it wasn't as simple as the difference between male and female, but a contrast of a far greater order. It was Daniele's perfection, the culmination of evolution in a flawless body and a mind without equal that compared to Joel. Finally, when doing nothing had become just plain rude, Joel abruptly swung the door open.
Dustin followed him into the house. It had a stale smell. He noticed immediately the lingering odor of tobacco. He resented that anyone would endanger Daniele's health by smoking in his presence. Daniele's mother appeared, coming from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her floral-patterned apron. She smiled, warmly Dustin thought, which compensated for her offspring's chilly reception.
"Hello Mrs. Webster," Dustin said.
He met her halfway across the living room and shook her hand. It was cold and moist, yet it was firm like Daniele's small hand. How much he longed to hold Daniele's hand in his again? Such a simple thing to hold another person's hand, but potent nonetheless. It spoke of belonging and togetherness, and being in love, even if it was unrequited. How often had he laid awake at night and dreamed of loving Daniele, of guiding a boy's inexperienced hand downward to enclose his engorged penis for the first time? And more, so much more that he had to teach him.
She smiled again, a hint of Daniele's smile, a smile that always showed pure white teeth, the two in the front slightly larger than the rest and gapped enough to spit through, but not unpleasantly so, not like some buck-toothed boys. Not at all like his brother.
"I'm glad you could come, Mr. Lane. Would you like something to drink?"
The words came with Daniele's agreeable harmony. He had a voice that could sing, really sing, if he put his mind to it. He needed encouragement, but sometimes he sang when he was asked to, and then Dustin listened to every note, spellbound as much by sound as by the boy himself. Even when he talked, his voice captivated Dustin.
With a smile he accepted her invitation and followed her into the cramped kitchen, grateful of the chance to escape Joel's cold brooding eyes. When Daniele looked at him it was very different; always perceptive. He had discerning, dark somber eyes; revealing the sensitive boy within.
"We have beer and wine? Or would you prefer a coke?"
"Anything would be cool."
Had he actually said that? `Cool'? He laughed. Daniele used the word sometimes when he was too lazy to express himself in more meaningful terms. She laughed with him, not breaking eye contact. What did she see?
"A coke would nice," Dustin added. "Whatever you're cooking certainly smells great."
"It's Thai," she answered as she went to refrigerator.
It was covered with magnets and scraps of paper. Dustin easily recognized Daniele's writing from the constant stream of personalized E-mails he had received. She poured from a plastic bottle.
"It's Dani's favorite," she said absently. "Chicken in panang curry." She winced, swallowed, passed a glass of coke to Dustin. She hesitated, lowering her voice to a confidential tone. "I'm glad you're here."
"Um, well,... I am too."
"What's going to become of him?"
She was on the verge of crying. She looked away, pretended to sort through the utensils in the sink. Dustin watched her and scratched his neck where his collar was. If felt tight.
"He'll be okay," he said softly.
"I,... I suppose,... I,... I didn't want to,... you understand,... I didn't,.... But there wasn't a choice,... not really."
"I know." Dustin sighed.
She was right in saying that there really had not been a choice for him, not with mandatory lifetime incarceration for a second offence. Not when he had already gone beyond being tempted.
"His time at camp seems to have gone nicely," she continued obliquely.
Dustin nodded slightly. Both of them knew otherwise but would not say it. He sensed that Daniele had been very unhappy. His mother was close to him as well.
"It'll be good to have him home again, I expect," Dustin said.
She smiled and nodded acceptingly. "I'm sure you miss him too, Mr. Lane. I know he misses you."
For some reason, Dustin remembered one afternoon in the small courtyard behind the book store when they were sitting on the tiny patch of grass that he euphemistically called `lawn'. They had wrestled for what seemed an hour, a wonderful hour of freedom that ended up with him mussing up Daniele's hair until it was an untidy mess, sticking out in all directions. And Daniele had laughed when he saw himself in the mirror, laughed so hard that he was breathless. He couldn't stop laughing until there were tears in his eyes and his face was red. He made Dustin brush it out.
"He said you were good-looking," she added in a confidential tone. She turned to the sink again, putting some pots to the side. "You probably don't know, but he talks about you a lot, Mr. Lane."
Dustin nodded sagely. "I'd talk about him too, if I had someone to talk to. He's a wonderful boy."
"Yes, he is. Sometimes I think I don't deserve him."
"I get that feeling too," Dustin agreed. "He's very special."
"Yes, he is. Even with his problems at school, I wouldn't change,..." She stopped, her mouth still open. Both of them realized what she had been about to say that she wouldn't change anything about him.
"What problems at school?" Lane asked, trying to avoid the looming self-recrimination.
"He,... I'm sorry,..." She dabbed at her eyes with the corner of her apron. "It's been very difficult this year. He's not like,... well other boys, if you know what I mean. He's so bright that he gets bored very easily. His teachers don't like him very much. I think he challenges them too much."
"I sympathize. He challenges me all the time," Lane agreed with a vague smile.
She nodded. "He started school when he was four and then the school moved him up a grade a few years ago, and he's in a special-ed program,... Now, he has problems with the other students because they're all two years older. Swimming has been good for him because the boys in his group are mostly his age, but he still has problems."
"Because he's faster," Lane said with a smile.
Only three weeks before he had driven a hundred miles to watch Daniele swim in a regional meet. With two firsts and three seconds he had walked away with overall first for his age- group, beating one of the boys who had given him such a difficult time at the state championship. And he had done it with a plastic cup on his scrotum and a cough that was a doctor's visit away from becoming pneumonia. More than anything, Lane had been impressed by Daniele's 200 yard IM time. It was less than a second off the national record.
"He's different. He seems to think about everything differently." She paused. "He sees problems where there aren't problems, and where there are problems he sees strange solutions."
"Yes, he does. It's part of who he is. He's very creative," Lane said agreeably, thinking of the myriad bizarre sketches that littered Daniele's schoolbooks.
"The school, they don't what else to do with him, you know. They aren't allowed to move him any further than two grades ahead. I spoke to the principal about it a few months ago. He really should be in one of those special programs for gifted students."
"There's one at the university where I used to teach," Lane commented. "I still have some friends there. I'm sure we could get him in if he wanted to go."
She nodded. "It doesn't matter anymore. He's not allowed,... Because of the other children. Doctor Sutton talked about that. He's supposed to have home schooling from now on, but it's not something I could do, not by myself. Actually, I don't know whether having him at home would be any easier."
"Because of,..." Lane stopped.
She looked up to meet his eyes. "He told you."
"Um,.... About his father?"
She inclined her head slightly, signaling that they might be overheard if they spoke too loudly.
"Keith and I wanted another child,.... We tried to conceive again right after Joel was born. But we couldn't, not after an entire year of trying. I'm sure it's the chemicals they use where he works.... He was devastated when the doctor told him he was unable to. His sperm count was just too low. We even tried using some of his for artificial insemination, but there was still something wrong. I miscarried twice."
She shrugged. "That's all in the past. Anyway, I ended up going to the university. They have a program for infertile couples. Perhaps it was a mistake."
"I don't think so. I don't believe you could wish for a better son."
"Except for one little problem."
Dustin turned at the strange voice. So this was Daniele's father, not really his father, but Daniele had called him that all of his life so he might as well have been his real father.
"I'm Dustin Lane. I own Lane's BookStop,... down near the University. Daniele's always hanging out there," he said as he held his hand out.
Webster regarded the outstretched hand as if it was tainted, or worse, diseased. "I figured that," he shrugged dismissively. "He reads a lot even for a kid."
`Reads' came in a tone of voice that made it sound unpleasant, even vulgar, alluding to something shameful. It was almost as if he knew something had happened between Dustin and Daniele.
"Yes, he does. A lot," Dustin added with emphasis. "I don't think I've ever seen him without a book. I was just telling your wife that he's a good kid."
"Yes he is. For a filthy little pervert," Webster growled. "Am I to assume you're another one."
"A pedophile? You're like him, aren't you? That's why you're here, isn't it? It's why you don't mind him hanging around your place. So you can get into his pants."
Dustin winced. Was this why Daniele's mother had invited him to dinner? Did they suspect that he had corrupted their son? That he was responsible for their son's problem?
"We both have the da Vinci gene, if that's what you mean," he replied calmly.
"She tells me it's carried by the father." Webster glared at his wife. "I'm only glad I'm not his real father," he added angrily.
Dustin shook his head wearily. "Look Mr. Webster, neither Daniele or me can help what we are. He didn't ask to be born with the gene, and neither did I. You can think what you like, but it's not all bad. If you can get past the one bad part of it, the same gene has made him a genius."
"Ha! Like that matters. It causes him to be one smart boy-fucker. But so what? He's not going to amount to anything. He's never been more than one big headache."
"I don't understand how you can say that. He's the one who's suffered. He's been through a terrible time," Dustin said argumentatively.
"So he has. He's lost his balls. Not that it's much of a loss. They were goddamn tiny to begin with. He'll be glad when he's older. You might even say he was lucky. He's young enough to get over it. He never was the breeding kind," Webster sneered. "His life will go on and the world will be a safer place."
"I agree it isn't the end of the world," Daniele's mother interjected. "But the important thing now is doing what will make him happy." She turned to Dustin, her expression gloomy. "That's why you're here, Mr. Lane. I'm tired of being angry. I want to talk about what's best for my son."
She emphasized `my son' so that there could be no doubt about his parentage. She accepted full responsibility. Webster shrugged impassively.
"I don't see why I need to sit through this."
"Keith! Please don't make this more difficult than it already is."
He turned on her. "You had to have another child. It wasn't my idea. I was perfectly happy just to have one kid. You brought him into the world. He's your problem as far as I'm concerned."
She sighed. Her expression was poignant as she remembered a time almost eleven years earlier. At the time it had been a joint decision that she conceive using artificial insemination, the sperm provided by an anonymous donor. It had amused both of them to think that perhaps they would have a doctor in the family after all.
"We have to think about Dani's future," she said bluntly.
"You mean you have to think about your son's future," Webster said irritably. "The fact is we both know he doesn't have a future. Hell, he can't even go to school like a normal kid. He's a goddamn pedophile! They don't trust him around other kids, not even when he gets back from that faggot camp he's at."
She shook her head. "I know it's difficult for you, Keith." She turned to Dustin. "We don't know what to do, Mr. Lane. They called us,... I don't know who it was,... someone from the Institute. I spoke to Doctor Sutton about getting a mentor for him,... She's,... well, she's the doctor who,... who treated Dani."
"I know who she is and what she does," Lane said quietly. He did not explain why.
"She has someone, a man,... he's available. I talked to him yesterday. He lives nearby,... just a few miles. He's an undertaker. He sounded very nice on the phone,... but I don't know,.... There was something he said,...."
She hesitated and glanced at her husband. His expression was cold, overbearing.
"I know Daniele likes you a lot," she added awkwardly.
Dustin nodded. It was time for the truth, the consequences be damned.
"I love Daniele, Mrs. Webster," he said simply.
He glanced quickly at the man. There was no immediate response. Then, Webster inclined his head as if he had not heard, or could not believe what he had heard.
"I'd like very much to be his mentor," Dustin added nervously.
"Why don't you come right out with it and say you want to have sex with him?" Webster interrupted bitterly. "I don't understand how you pedophiles can look at yourselves in the mirror. It doesn't matter to you that he's a ten-year-old boy, does it? You still want to fuck him in the ass. You do, don't you?"
Dustin recoiled from the truth. He stepped back, breathing out slowly.
"I understand how you feel, Mr. Webster. That part of it,..."
He paused. He was going to say "when a man proves his love for a boy,... it doesn't have to happen", but he wanted it to happen. He wanted to be inside Daniele's body more than he could stand. Certainly, there were men and boys who loved each other and somehow managed to resist having sex, but he was not that strong, or he was the wrong kind of man. It was not even a matter of proving one's love. Until Jeff came into his life, he had always believed, or wanted to believe that having sex was part of love. However, with Jeff, no matter how much he had wanted to convince himself otherwise, it had not been love. Certainly, he was infatuated, and he had wanted to be in love with the boy, but it was just sex. It was so very different with Daniele. Worlds apart. Gentle, curious, wonderful Daniele, who he had fallen in love with only to discover that the boy was no more interested in having a relationship with a man than he was. So, even though they shared a secret that should have brought them very close together, they were just good friends. In boy-parlance they were `best friends'. Despite how much he wanted to be more than a very good friend to Daniele and how much he relished the boy's company, it only served to make him even more frustrated.
"I think you should do whatever you believe to be in Dani's best interest," he said cautiously.
Mrs. Webster nodded slightly. "Keith, I really need to concentrate on cooking. Why don't you take Mr. Lane out to see Dani's garden?"
Her husband scowled in reply. He ambled across to the refrigerator, took out a beer and continued to the rear door. He stopped, turned back and gestured to Dustin to follow.
At the rear of the house there was a small lawn, a rickety metal-covered shed, and a struggling garden.
"That's Dan's," he nodded.
"Of course, the fucking garden." Webster shrugged. "He'll probably start getting tomatoes in a few more weeks. The kid has a green thumb, but you knew that already didn't you? You spend so much time with him you ought to know his favorite breakfast cereal."
Dustin shook his head. "Sure, we've spent some time together, but it's mostly been reading. He hasn't told me a lot about himself. I've heard a bit about the swim team,..."
"He's lived in my house for ten years and I'm afraid there's a lot I don't know about him," he commented morosely. "He's like that.... Damn!"
"Mr. Webster,...." For some reason Lane wanted to apologize but he did not know what to apologize for.
"Damn you! Why? Why did it have to happen to him?"
For the first time, Dustin heard the man's frustration. There was nothing he could say, nothing that helped. His son was a fluke of nature? More empty words. He looked at the garden. The plants were struggling, already parched after going without Daniele's care and attention for two weeks. Much longer without water and the leaves would begin to yellow.
"I didn't know Dani gardened," he said softly.
"He's good at it, like he's good at everything else he does. He sells what he grows. Last summer,... he made nearly a hundred bucks,.... Probably cost me that much in water,.... Nice tomatoes though,... much better than you can buy in a store,... He uses the money for his swim meet fees." He smiled weakly, then stared down at the grass beneath his feet. "This da Vinci thing he has,... you have it too, don't you?"
"I read about you on the Internet. You were some kind of professor, then a Congressman?"
"Yes. For a while."
"Didn't like it huh?"
"Something like that. You might say that I had a problem with our societies' priorities."
"All those politicians in D.C. making laws to cut the balls of little boys instead of dealing with the real problems. Is that why you quit?"
"Not exactly. NICE happened after I was gone. There was a problem," Dustin admitted. There was no point in telling Webster that he had been set up by the Administration. "I met a boy and did something with him that I shouldn't have done. I wasn't given a choice. It was either quit politics or go to jail."
"A real difficult decision," Webster said sarcastically. "Can I assume you fucked him?"
"Something like that." Dustin admitted as he wondered where the man was headed.
Webster breathed out slowly, his expression antagonistic. "What have you done to Dan?"
`Done'? Dustin closed his eyes and breathed out. `What have I done to Daniele'? He had answered a curious boy's questions. He had given a frightened boy comfort and affection when he needed it, he had tried to teach him that life was worth living. He had given him advice and counsel after he made the worst mistake of his life. Daniele had been very lucky with Nicky. Eventually, his luck would have run out.
"According to what that doctor told my wife, he's still a virgin," Webster replied. "One doesn't think of boys being virgins, but I guess there's always a first time for everything. I suppose we should be glad."
"Daniele is very special to me," Dustin sighed. "I would never do something he didn't want me to do."
"That's nice," Webster sneered. "But you'd like to, wouldn't you? You'd like to stick it in his tight little ass?"
"I love him. It would be a lie if I said I didn't want to make love to him."
"Love?" Webster demanded cynically. "Is that what it is? Tell me, Mr. Lane, how much do you love him?"
Dustin tried to find the words to express the joy that filled his heart whenever he thought about Daniele. How often had he trembled, overwhelmed with desire whenever Daniele was close to him? He had always had difficulty controlling himself with Daniele, however, it wasn't only lust. Love was the way they looked at each other. It was the way they talked. The games they played. Just holding hands. That was love. How much did he love Daniele? Enough that to never see him again would be a living death.
"I'll do whatever it takes to make him happy," Dustin answered.
"And Daniele? How does he feel about you?"
"You'll have to ask him," Dustin murmured. "He says he loves me."
"What would a ten-year-old boy know about love?"
Dustin knelt down and pulled a weed from among the heat-seared tomato plants. A lot of weeds had grown in the space of two weeks. Thick green clumps of them. It was strange how weeds could thrive in the same conditions that weakened Daniele's plants and threatened their very survival. It was life according to Charles Darwin. The survival of the fittest. Yet even with that immutable law of nature, it stood to reason that somewhere in the world there were conditions where Daniele's plants would flourish without constant nurturing. Somewhere there was a place where weeds would struggle to exist. He stood up again. Daniele needed to be nurtured constantly if he was to survive, until they could find the place where he was supposed to live.
"I want to be Dani's mentor, Mr. Webster." He spoke directly from the heart.
"What you mean is you want is to stick your cock up his ass, but let's put that aside for a moment." Webster inclined his head, studying Dustin closely. "Why?"
"I can give him what he needs to be happy."
"Ha! What do you think he needs from you? What is it that I can't give him?"
"I know you love him as a son," Dustin began, choosing his words carefully. "Maybe I'm wrong,... I don't think you can give him all the love he needs. As he grows up, he'll need to be loved differently, especially after the camp he's been at,..."
"I know he'll come back a different kid," Webster said heartlessly.
"They can't change who he is." Dustin pulled out a handful of weeds and shook the dry dirt from the roots. "Better that than what he was," he murmured to himself.
Dustin looked up. He had not intended Webster to hear him.
"I think he was headed for trouble."
Webster's face darkened. "Probably. My wife told me about what he did to Grey. I expect he wasn't the only one Dan's messed around with."
"He still needs to be loved," Dustin rejoined.
"Okay, so there's something I can't do for him. I won't fuck him. But why does it have to be you? For that matter, there's that other pervert who my wife spoke to on the phone."
"I can give him a lot more love."
"Love? How simple. You'll give Dan whatever it is that you call love and everything will be okay for the rest of his life."
Dustin shook his head. "I'm not that naïve."
"Neither am I," Webster said. "I fix smashed cars for a living. I know I'm not all that smart, not compared to the likes of you, or Dan. But I know what's right and wrong. And I know what a boy needs and it isn't,... it isn't,...." He clenched his hands. "God! Why Dani? He doesn't like me calling him that, you know. His mother calls him that. And you do. What gives you the right? Damn you!"
"Mr. Webster,.... He needs me now. He needs me as much as I need him. It isn't just about sex. You might find it hard to believe, but it really is about love."
"Love?" Webster sounded drained. He shook his head, still denying. "When he comes home,..." he shook his head bitterly. "They turned him into a faggot, you know. That's what they do at those camps. They take little boys and make them gay."
Dustin nodded understandingly. "I know."
"They call it ETC camp, where he went.... It stands for education, training, and conditioning." He was impotent, like the son who he had raised for ten years. "They,... they,.... destroyed,....destroyed him. Damn them to hell!"
"I couldn't agree more," Dustin said softly. He was stunned by the man's outburst. "But now we have to do what's best for him."
"This undertaker,... He's done quite well for himself. Apparently he sells franchises for his funeral homes in six states. Anyway, Dan would learn a trade, he'd probably make enough money to be very comfortable. But there's a catch. He said he wants Dan to live with him,... so he won't have to drive here every day to pick him up,... He must be a very busy man." Webster shook his head abruptly. "It's only a few miles. I drove to his place last night,... to see where he would live. Three-point-six miles to be exact. It took me just under ten minutes. And it's too far for him to come to get Dan?"
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't want Dani to live with me," Dustin said meekly. "I think it's something that he might like as well. I have a spare room. It's the attic space, so it's huge. It would need some fixing up, of course, but it's air-conditioned. I'd be honored to take care of him. He can learn how to run the store if he wants to."
"It sounds nice. He hates sharing a room with his brother. They don't get on very well."
"So I've heard. He'll have all the books he'll ever want downstairs."
"He'll like that. He'd still need a place to garden, of course. Perhaps he could come here for that," Webster joked feebly. He looked at Dustin in a strange way, almost as if he was curious. "My wife's told me that Dan's very fond of you. She likes you as well. She's usually right about people. When she,...." He choked, coughing to hide his anguish.
Dustin smiled nervously. "I'd be a good mentor for him, Mr. Webster."
"You have to be registered or something to be a mentor, don't you? It's part of the NICE program, in order to qualify or some such thing? What's all that about?"
Dustin was silent for a while, wondering what the other man would think if he knew all that registration involved. Registration of pedophiles, whether man or boy, went hand-in-hand with treatment. He avoided the issue.
"People think mentoring is part of the NICE legislation. In fact, that part of NICE only legalized homosexual relationships. It doesn't say anything about NICE boys. When he turns sixteen, Dani will be covered by that part. I mean, assuming that he'll,..."
"Be gay? That seems to be a given now, doesn't it?"
"That appears to be what happens," Dustin agreed humorlessly. "In a way, there's a good side to it. He'll be able to marry and adopt children if he wants. It won't be a normal life, but it doesn't have to be a bad life."
"And until then he gets mentored on how to be queer?"
"Until then I'd like to be there to help him grow up. I don't agree with what's happening, but there's nothing I can do to stop it, Mr. Webster. What I can do is to try to help Dani as much as I can. All I want is for him to be happy. My relationship with him doesn't have to be sexual. The mentor program was intended to solve the problem of providing alternative outlets for emasculated boys who might become pedophiles. It's usually becomes sexual after a while, but it can just as easily be something else."
"I know the plan is to turn them into faggots after they've been castrated. Is that all his future holds? To be some man's wife?" Webster asked querulously.
Dustin shrugged. "Frankly, I don't think it's so terrible, not compared to his other option. Would you rather see him run the risk of spending the rest of his life in prison?"
"Tell me, what do you intend for him when he reaches sixteen?"
"If Dani still wants me, and you and his mother agree, we'll take advantage of the NICE law," Dustin replied hopefully. "I really do love him, Keith," he added awkwardly.
"Sure you do," Keith sighed. "Just don't start calling me `Dad'." He said it with a faint smile.
"Does that mean?...." Dustin began hopefully.
"For what it's worth, Dustin, I trust Dani's judgment. He doesn't have much of a future, not by my way of thinking, not after,... but what he does have,... well, I won't stand in his way."
"Neither will I," Dustin said gently. "He's a very special boy."
They began to walk back to the house. As they passed Daniele's garden, Dustin noticed that the tomato plants were covered with large green tomatoes that had been hidden by the leaves. All it would take was some rain followed by a few more days of sun and they would become ripe. It seemed that the plants had managed to thrive despite the weeds.