For anyone who has read my other stories on Nifty I have to warn you that this one is a new departure for me. Yes, it's a love story but it isn't the usual love story. For one thing, there isn't much sex. (If you are wanting to get off and looking for a good sex story to help you, try dusty-and-me or perhaps team-effort. (They might be just what you need.)

Another point: don't let the darkness of the opening to Part One turn you away. It's necessary to the story, but it isn't the story itself.

As always, comments, criticisms and general chat are always welcome and always answered.

Greg Bowden


Chapter One


They met in the alley behind the dilapidated house where he and his father lived. He'd been putting out the trash when he saw the stranger standing behind the garbage cans across the way. He was wary when the stranger smiled and came towards him but he saw the stranger was only a few years older than he and when the stranger put his hand on his shoulder it felt warm and friendly.

"Anything to eat in there?" the stranger asked, pointing at the black trash bag.

"No. Just trash and stuff. You hungry?"

The stranger nodded and seemed to think for a minute. "I tell you what, kid. You give me a sandwich or something and I'll give you something back." He glanced at the boy's crotch and smiled. "Something you'll really like."


"Just give me something to eat and I'll show you. I promise you'll like it a lot."

The boy nodded and opened the gate in the fence. "Okay. But it better be good."

They went into the dirty kitchen where the stranger wolfed down the two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches the boy made for him. There wasn't any milk so he'd washed the sandwiches down with cold coffee from a stained china cup. When he was through he looked the boy up and down and smiled at him. "Okay, take off your pants."

The boy took a step back. "What the fuck for?"

"Because if I'm going to give you a blow job you have to take your pants off, that's all."

"A blow job? You mean..."

The man nodded. "Yeah, I'm going to suck your cock." He shrugged. "Hey, it's all I have to give."

The boy nodded. He'd heard about blow jobs from some of the older guys on the street, how good they felt, but he'd never thought he might actually experience one. At least not until he was older. And he'd always thought they came from girls.

The stranger was getting impatient. "Well, you want it or not?"

The boy opened his worn, dirty jeans and slipped them off. Since he didn't have any underwear he was naked except for his tee shirt. The stranger squatted down and slowly took the boy's cock in his mouth.

It was quite possibly the most pleasurable thing that had ever happened to him. It seemed impossible that this man, this stranger squatting in front of him, could make him feel so good. The tongue sliding along his cock, the warm, gentle hands fondling his balls were bringing him feelings he'd never even imagined. He reached down and put his hands on the stranger's head, holding him still, prolonging the pleasure.

The door slammed open so hard that it shattered the glass in it. "What the hell are you doing?" screamed the boy's father.

They all froze for just a moment before the stranger threw himself into a backward roll and knocked down the boy's father as he stood in the doorway. He was up and out the door before the father could even make a grab for him.

"You goddamned fucking filthy piece of shit," his father shrieked as he got up. He grabbed a knife from the drain board and grabbed his son's dick. "I'll cut that damned thing off you, I swear I will!

"No," screamed the boy. "Please, no. I'll do anything. Please. I'm sorry. I'm..."

"You're sorry alright," his father snarled. "Putting that filthy thing..." He jerked his hand away from the boy's cock and wiped it on his greasy jeans. "Jesus Christ, what did I do to deserve a fucking queer for a son?"

"Dad, I'm not..."

"Shut up, faggot." His voice was low and menacing. "Now you listen to me and you listen good. If I ever, EVER, find you've done that again I will cut that thing clean off you. And I'll take your balls with it for good measure."

"I'm sorry, Dad. I never did it before, I swear. Please, Dad, please forgive me. I'll never..."

"It's not for me to forgive you. Oh, no, it's God you have to ask for forgiveness." He grabbed the boy by the arm and dragged him into the tiny room he slept in and threw him on the unmade bed. In a cold voice he said, "Now you stay here and ask God's forgiveness, Boy. You pray and pray and pray some more until you hear God forgive you. You hear me? And if God can't find it in his heart to forgive you then you'll stay in here until Satin himself comes to claim you!" He turned on his heel and went out, closing and locking the door behind him.

It took five days and it cost him his soul.

He survived by drinking the water in the little aquarium he'd had and by relieving himself in the bucket he'd used as a wastebasket. When God finally spoke He made him promise to stamp out all the dirty boys like himself, the ones who let strangers put their mouths on their private parts.

He knelt on the floor and made the promise, crying it out to God.

God forgave him.

His father never did.


I was having a late breakfast in the little coffee shop down the block when the kid came in. He sat at the table by the mirror and I could see both sides of his face. He was very good looking but what held my eye was the expression he wore, kind of like a lost puppy who's been beaten once too often. Not that there were any outward signs of violence, it was the dullness in his eyes and the set of his mouth—neither smile nor frown—that gave him away. That and the way his tee shirt hung on his slumped shoulders.

He pulled a small wad of bills out of his pocket, counted it and sighed. When the waitress stopped at the table he ordered eggs and bacon, looked at his money again and added cereal. When she poured his coffee he loaded it with sugar and milk and then drank it greedily. When his food came I saw the puppy in him again, delighted with the food but wolfing it down as though his master might take it away. When the food was gone he looked around as though wondering if he could get away with licking the plate.

I guess I should have known better but knowing better doesn't always control your behavior. I called the waitress over and told her to put his breakfast on my tab. When she told him he shook his head and pulled out his meager wad of bills. Then he looked over at me and scowled as though I had asked for something he was unwilling to give. I shrugged and smiled at him but a curt shake of the head as he left was all I got for my trouble.

My normal habit is to breakfast at different places, going back to the best ones on an irregular schedule but somehow I couldn't get that kid out of my mind so I went back to that coffee shop every day that week. The food was okay but the boy didn't show until Friday, the day I'd decided would be my last. I felt a curious sense of relief when he came in.

His routine was the same: read the menu, count his money and order. This time he had sausage instead of the bacon. I caught the waitress and told her to give him a stack of pancakes and then tell him it was a mistake and would be on the house. When she served him I was pleased to see that he had the good sense to accept the food. He even thanked the waitress.

When he'd finished—and paid—he walked past my table and tossed me just the barest hint of a nod. He knew.

The next time I saw him was in the evening, four days later. He was lounging against a store front watching the traffic and I almost didn't recognize him in his tight wheat jeans and torn tank top. It took me a moment to realize he was working the street, watching the traffic for the cars that cruised slowly around the block.

"Hi," I said, wondering what the hell I was doing.

"Hi." He looked me up and down but gave no sign of recognizing me.

"How's it going?"


"The name's Dan." He ignored the offer of my hand. After a long pause I could tell that he had no intention of holding up his end of the conversation. "What's yours?" I finally asked.

He looked me up and down again. "You a cop?"

"Hardly. Do I look like a cop?"

"Not really." He went back to watching the traffic.

"Look, since I'm not a cop you could tell me your name, couldn't you?"

"Look," he said, mimicking my inflection rather well, "why do you want to know?"

I shrugged and decided the conversation was probably over. Just as I was deciding it was hopeless he said, "Meat." He said it with a smile that could only be described as self-satisfied.

"Meat. Okay, Meat, I'm Dan. How's it going?"

He sighed and his eyes took on a hard look. "You buyin'?" He paused for a beat, "Dan." He said my name as though it was as phony as his.

"Buying?" It hit me what he meant. "No. No, I don't think so."

"Then could you move it along? Conversation's bad for business." A gray station wagon stopped in the street and he went out to it. The passenger side window went down and the kid had a short conversation with the driver and then got in. I thought I saw the driver reach out to touch him as they drove off.

I spent the rest of the evening wondering what it was between me and the kid but I couldn't answer the question, I didn't have a clue. I just knew I was becoming obsessed with him. It wasn't a sexual obsession, though. I tested that, lying in bed and masturbating to images of him. My fantasies kept sliding out of focus, always going back to that whipped puppy look of his and I couldn't imagine myself having sex with a whipped puppy. Besides, I really don't much like kids, at least not that way. All of this notwithstanding, I looked for the boy at breakfast the next morning and again in the evening at the storefront where I'd seen him the night before. He wasn't there and he wasn't there the next night either.

Two days later he was back, lounging against the storefront. His jeans were dirty and the tank top looked a little more tattered than before but it was him all right. When I said hello to him he stared at me for a moment, probably matching my face to his mental list of "clients".

"Oh, yeah," he finally said. "The conversationalist. You decided to buy?"

I shook my head. "Just came by to see how you're doing." I figured that would be the end of it but he surprised me by stepping closer and putting a hand on my arm.

"I'm okay," he said. His eyes were fixed on the street, watching a car cruse by.

"Good," I said. "I'm glad." There was a long silence which I finally broke. "Okay. I'll move along. I know you're busy."

His hand tightened on my arm and he looked at me. "No. No, let's talk. Okay? What do you want to talk about?" His eyes went back to the street.

I couldn't think of anything to say. Great. He finally wants to talk and I'm tongue tied. A car pulled up, a big white Lincoln and the window slid silently down. "Hey, Meat. Come over here," the driver called.

"Can't you see I'm busy?" the kid called out, rubbing his hand familiarly along my arm and not looking at the car.

"How long before you're un-busy?"

"Shit," the kid said under his breath.

I surprised myself. "All night," I yelled. "He's busy all night."

"Don't you count on it," the driver of the Lincoln yelled back with a nasty laugh. "Okay, Meat. I'll be back in a half hour. I'm sure you'll be through with that guy by then. And ready for me." The window went up and the Lincoln rolled off down the street.

"Asshole," the kid spit after the car. Then he turned back to me. "Why'd you say that?"

I shrugged. "Why not? You didn't seem very interested in him." Then I wondered. "Or was that a ploy, a way to get the price up? I'm sorry if I messed it up for you."

He shook his head. "No. I hate that son-of-a-bitch." There was real venom in his voice.

"So what are you going to do now?" I asked.

"I don't know. Get away from here, that's for sure." He turned and started down the street.

I had to hurry to catch up with him. "You mind if I walk along with you?"

He stopped abruptly and turned around to face me. "Look, thanks for the favor, okay? Now let's drop it." He turned and started down the street again. There wasn't even a backward glance.

It was a week before I saw him again. Not that I didn't look for him but he didn't come to the cafe and he wasn't hanging around the store front I'd begun to think of as his. I began to worry about him, thinking about the nasty laugh of that man in the Lincoln and wondering what kind of trouble a kid could get into with him.

Wednesday night I met a really sweet guy in one of the downtown bars. He was my age, an executive of some sort from Cleveland, in town for meetings and feeling lonely in a strange town. He was also insatiable in bed and we never did get any sleep. When he left in the morning to catch his plane I decided not to sleep for a while. I wanted to keep the warm glow I had from spending the night loving with him so I pulled on a pair of jeans, ran my fingers through my hair and went to the cafe for breakfast.

Things always happen when you least expect them. I walked into the cafe and there was the kid, sitting at the table in front of the mirror where I'd first seen him. I took this to be some sort of sign and since the place was crowded anyway, I walked over to the table.

He looked up at me, pretending he didn't know me but he nodded when I asked if I could share the table. "It's a free country," he said, going back to his coffee. I took that for a yes and sat down. When he looked at me again he actually smiled. "You look like hell, you know?" he said, adding more sugar to his coffee.

"Thanks. You're not exactly the picture of glowing youth yourself." He ignored this.

"What'd you do anyway, have a rough night?"

I decided to skip the pretense. "More like a great one. Lots of time in bed, no sleep." He didn't react.

I ordered pancakes and eggs, extra bacon. We ate in silence and when he finished I was afraid he'd just get up and leave. I offered him my bacon, just to keep him with me. I still didn't know why.

"Really? You're not going to eat it?" He reached over and took the bacon.

"So, what are your plans for the day?" I asked him.

"So, what business is it of yours?" he replied, mimicking my tone and inflection which I hated but which I managed to ignore.

"Well," I said, "it's going to be a great day and I thought maybe..." What did I think? I had a sudden flash. "I thought maybe I'd change my mind and become a buyer." His eyes turned suddenly hard and I hurried on. "No. Not that. Kids aren't exactly my thing. No, what I have in mind is hiring you as a sort of companion for the day."

He snorted. "Oh, sure. And just what is this companion"—he almost spit out the word—"supposed to do to you?"

I glanced at my watch. "Okay, here's the deal. I hire you for six hours—that's now until three this afternoon. I pay you $10 an hour. You spend the time with me..."

"Doing what?" He had the sarcasm down pat.

"Well, there's an art gallery I want to go to." He took on a wonderful look of disgust. "Oh, don't worry, a little culture won't hurt you very much." I'm not bad with the sarcasm myself. "And the rhododendron are blooming in the park. You know, flowers? I'll even throw in lunch, whatever you want. Then at three I give you the sixty and you do whatever." I could see him thinking about it and I think it was lunch that decided him.

"Half now, half after. That's the way I do business." He gave me a hard smile. "Keeps guys like you from stiffing me after. And no funny stuff or I split, got it?"

"Agreed." I dug three tens out of my wallet and pushed them across the table. He took then and shoved them in his pocket.

"Breakfast too," he said, handing me his check and looking at the clock on the wall behind me. "It's after nine."

I pulled out a twenty and handed it to him along with both checks. "Would you take care of it, please, while I finish my coffee?" I wanted to see how he'd handle the money.

He got up and found the waitress. When he came back he passed my little test, handing me all the change except for three dollars which he tucked under his plate. "Never forget the help," he said, sending me a message.

"I never forget the help—when they deserve it." He nodded, receiving my message.

"So what now?" he said as we left the cafe.

I looked him up and down just the way he'd done to me that evening on the street. "You haven't washed those jeans in a while, have you?"

"I thought we were going to look at pictures not go to the Laundromat."

"We are but not with you looking like that. Come on."

The first stop was my barber where we compromised on hair length and he submitted to a shampoo, cut and blow dry. The second stop was Macy's.

"I don't suppose you bothered to put clean underwear on this morning, did you?" I said in the Toiletries Department where I was buying him a stick deodorant. I took his incredulous look as a no so our first stop in the Men's Department was underwear.

"Boxers or Jockeys?" I glanced at his crotch and answered my own question. "Jockeys."

"Calvin's" he said. "As if it's any of your business."

He began to rummage through the underwear looking for Calvin's but got distracted by some European bikini briefs. He fingered a bright red pair displayed on a mannequin. "These," he said. "I want these."

I might have known. Not only were they imported from France, they were silk. Oh, what the hell, I thought and told him to pick out a three-pack because it would be more economical. It wasn't economy he was looking for though, it was color. He went through Macy's entire stock before he found what he wanted: "Three Fabulous Jewel Tones for the Discerning Man! Emerald! Ruby! Sapphire!" The kid liked color, that was for sure. Jeans were easier because only one particular item would do: Levi's 501's, pre-washed, button fly, size 24 X 28. He sent a salesman in search of them while he fingered the tee shirts looking for just the right style (did you know tee shirts have styles?). White socks (crew, color band to match the underwear) and Keds ("Keds? I gotta have Nikes!") completed his new ensemble.

When he was through picking things out I sent him to the fitting room to change and surprised him by not following him in. When he came out he actually looked quite presentable. He'd chosen to wear the emerald green underwear; I could tell, both because the red and blue ones were still in the package and by the fact that the bottom button of the jeans was artfully left undone, revealing quick flashes of green as he walked. I paid, asked the salesman to stash the clothes he'd been wearing and the extra stuff for a few hours. Then we were off to the gallery.

I thought.

He stood in front of me on the escalators and I thought to myself that he really looked good in his new clothes. It occurred to me that he also smelled better. Much better. When we got outside I stopped him and asked. At first he just shrugged as though he didn't know what I was talking about but I wore him down and he finally admitted that he'd lifted a bottle of "some real nice smelling stuff" while I was paying for the deodorant. His excuse was, "Well, you wanted me to smell nice didn't you? And you weren't buying it." He'd stashed the stuff in the shopping bag Macy's was kindly holding for him.

I have very strong feelings about things like that and I surprised myself at how calm I stayed. I simply pulled him very close to me and told him in a low, cold voice that he was going to go back into the store, find the salesman and tell him there had been an oversight. Then he was going to apologize and pay for it. With his own money. And he was going to do it now.

He argued (Everyone does it. Not me. They won't ever miss it. Doesn't matter. They're rich and I'm not. They worked for it. I wanted it. Then you pay for it.) but before he could work himself up to a proper tantrum he found himself standing in front of the salesman. I stood back and let him handle it.

I couldn't hear what he said to the salesman but the guy was good about it. He handed the kid the shopping bag and let him find the cologne rather than searching it himself. The cologne turned out to be Guerlain—you know, that stuff in the bottle that looks like a bee hive—but fortunately a small bottle. Even so he only got a dollar bill and a few coins in change for the two tens he put on the counter. The salesman tossed me a smile of thanks and put the cologne and receipt back in the shopping bag. I suppose, after we left, he went through it to see what else the kid might have lifted but I don't think he found anything.

For my part, I didn't say anything more. We walked on down to Sy's gallery and looked at pictures. The show was in honor of a new artist (a handsome thing, probably getting more than a first show from Sy) and I wasn't sure if I liked his stuff or not. The kid had no such uncertainty.

"I thought we were going to look at real paintings and stuff. This," he waived his arm, taking in the entire show, "is shit. If you're going to look at something find something pretty."

My paid companion, telling me what to do. But he was right. "Okay. Come on." I wished Sy the best with the show and took the kid to the County Art Museum. I took him up to the second floor, where the early California things are, thinking it would be easier for him and I was right.

"Now that's a real painting," he said, pointing to a William Keith study of the Yosemite Valley. He walked over to it and actually seemed to be studying it. Then he went on to another and then another, studying each one almost as though he were memorizing it. An hour later when I called a halt lest he OD on eucalyptus trees he said, "I didn't know all this stuff was here. I mean, that anyone could just come in and look at it. I always thought they just had dark pictures of old lades and angels and stuff and you had to be a member or something to look at it. Wow!"

On our way out of the museum he stopped at the drinking fountain and surreptitiously swallowed something he'd taken out of his pocket. "You got a headache?" I asked once we were outside.

"What? Oh, no, not exactly." He thought for a minute, shrugged and went on. "Tired from last night. A little feel-good'll take care of it. Sorry I don't have one for you but they're expensive, you know?"

We walked around the lake to a restaurant where I knew we could sit outside and enjoy the sun. As we walked he talked on about how great the museum was and I wondered if he was doing it for my benefit or if he really meant it. As it turned out, he really meant it.

At the restaurant I asked for a lake side table and we were put in a corner, under an oak tree. I ordered for both of us. "He'll have the half pound burger with bacon and cheese." The kid nodded and broke in, "Yeah, with fries and a beer."

"Fries and a chocolate milk shake. I'll have the Caesar salad and," I suppose just to prove I was in charge, "a beer. Light draft." When the waiter had gone I gave the kid a long look and shook my head. "Okay. It's time to get a couple of things straight between us." I held up my hand, cutting off his excuses. "First. You will never again steal anything when you are with me. Never. Do you understand that?"

He was staring at me as though nobody had ever yelled at him in a low, quiet voice before. I fixed my eyes on his, staring him down until he slowly nodded. "Say it. Out loud."

There was a long pause while the silent battle raged between us. In the end I won, as I had to. "I... I won't steal..." Good enough.

"Second. You will not take drugs while you are with me. Not of any kind, not even an aspirin unless I give it to you. Do you understand? Nothing."

Our eyes had not broken contact and I saw something pass through his, something quick but not furtive. Pain maybe. It took him longer this time but he said it.

I dropped my eyes and smiled at him, breaking the tension. "Oh, and one more thing. Don't order beer."

He smiled back and dug into his back pocket. "It's okay. I have ID" He took a laminated card out of his wallet and handed it to me. It was an extremely bad copy of a California driver's license in the name of Ronald Reagen. The picture could have been Nancy's. I handed it back.

"I don't care. Not with me. I expect honesty from people and that isn't honest." He sighed, put the card back in his wallet and shoved it back into his back pocket.

"Geeze, you sound like my father," he said under his breath. The food came just then, saving him and causing me to lose my thought.

We actually talked during the meal, mostly about the pictures he'd seen in the museum. When he finished his food he pointed at a desert being served to a woman at the other end of the deck. "Can I have one of those?" he asked. "You said I could have anything I wanted."

"And I meant it. Sure, you can have one, whatever it is." I signaled our waiter. "Would you bring the young man one of those?" I pointed and the waiter nodded.

We sat in silence for quite a while before he spoke again. "How come you always talk about me like I'm some sort of idiot kid. I mean, `the young man'? I've got a name you know."

"I'm sure that's true," I said. "I just don't happen to know it. And I'm not about to call you Meat. Even—or perhaps especially—if it is true. So, you're `the young man'. Better than `the kid' don't you think?"

He sighed and rolled his eyes heavenward as though he were dealing with an especially dense person but before he could say anything the waiter set his desert in front of him, a pile of ice cream which dripped with a couple of kinds of sauce, whipped cream, two kinds of nuts and cherries. There were even cookies stuck in it here and there—in case 20,000 calories worth of ice cream might not be enough. He ate it. All of it.

It was after two when we finished so I suggested we simply stroll back to Macy's and leave the rhododendrons for another time. As we left I opened the door for him and said "here you go, young man" as he passed through. Outside he stopped and gave me a dark look. "I hate that. Being called that."

I shrugged, just the way he so often did, and said nothing."

"O-kay! It's Chip. That's my name, Chip."

I shook my head.

"It is. I mean... Well, it's what they call me." When I still didn't say anything he dropped his eyes. "Okay. It's Marvin." He said it so quietly I almost didn't hear. "Ryder. Marvin Ryder. But they always called me Chip. Even in school."

"Okay, Chip. Thank you." We walked towards town in silence for a while. When we got to Macy's I said, "Chip? You want to do this again maybe? We still didn't see the flowers in the park."

"You mean like today? Where I'm your companion?" I nodded. "Ten bucks an hour? With lunch?" I nodded again. "Yeah, I guess that would be okay."

We did it again on Sunday. After breakfast we went to a band concert in the park and ate at McDonalds. Chip was wearing his new clothes and the gap in his fly showed that he was wearing the ruby red shorts this time. I assumed from this that he hadn't done any laundry since our shopping trip.

The next time was on Wednesday. Chip obviously hadn't slept the night before and I avoided saying anything about it because I didn't want to know. We went back to the art museum but Chip couldn't keep his mind on anything so we left and walked along the lake for a while. We stopped at a deli and bought sandwiches and Cokes which we took to the park and ate on the grass. When he finished, Chip stretched out on the grass, laid his head on my thigh and promptly fell asleep. I wondered if he'd chosen to pillow his head on me because he thought I expected it or because he just felt comfortable doing it.

While he slept my eyes strayed along his body and stopped at his crotch. I didn't know if he'd arranged himself especially for me but whatever he'd done made it quite clear how he got away with the name "Meat". I looked back at his face and marveled at how innocent he looked. After a while I was hit with a profound—and shocking—fact: I loved him.

My heart began to pound against my chest and for a long time I couldn't seem to catch my breath. There was a moment of panic when I thought I was having a heart attack—until it occurred to me that it was more likely a simple anxiety attack. Oh, God, I thought. What's happening here? He's a kid—probably not even sixteen yet. What am I thinking of?

I sat, nearly paralyzed, for a long time, looking at this kid I shouldn't even like and telling myself I couldn't love him. He was a child. He was a street hustler. He stole. He did drugs. I had to pay him to eat lunch with me.

It didn't matter. I loved him.

When he woke my leg felt paralyzed just the way my brain did—unable to function or support me.

"Sorry," he said with a little grin. "I fell asleep. I guess I don't get paid for doing that, huh?"

"No. I won't dock your pay this time," I replied with more humor than I felt. "But look, maybe we ought to skip the rest of the day. You can go home and nap and I... I've got some things I need to do." It sounded hard, even to me.

The light went out of his eyes. "You mad?"

"No. Really. I tell you what, I'll pay you for the day and you can just put it on my tab. How's that?"

He thought for a second. "We going to do it again? Be companions I mean." For a moment I would have sworn he had a little disappointment in his eyes.

"Of course. How about... How about Monday?" It was almost a week away but it seemed to me I was going to need some time to think.

He looked dubious but agreed. I gave him his thirty dollars and we walked up the avenue in silence. At a corner near "his" store front he turned without a word and walked away, down the street.