by Greg Bowden

Part Three

Sunday morning I called Jack and Carlos and asked them to come over for a drink that afternoon--and incidentally asked if Carlos would bring his little medical bag and make a quick examination of a friend of mine. They agreed but only if there would be hors d'ouvers with the drinks.

When Chip woke around eleven he seemed much better. Some of the sparkle had come back into his eyes and his mouth fell into its accustomed smile. He'd managed to shred the paper shirt during the night and finally tossed it aside when I got him up to go to the bathroom. He still wanted me to support him while he stood at the toilet but the way he leaned into me seemed almost more affectionate than needful. He also seemed totally comfortable with being naked and when I asked if I should find him an old pair of pajamas or something he shrugged and said only if I found it necessary. I didn't.

He was hungry, too, and asked for a hamburger. I thought Cream of Wheat was more appropriate and, complaining the whole time, he ate two bowls of it. While he ate I asked him to tell me what had happened to him.

"You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to," I said, "but I'd like to know."

As usual, I could almost see the thought processes taking place but it turned out to be more organizing than calculating.

"I guess I got a crazy," he said without much emotion, as though he were reporting, trying to distance himself from the events. "He seemed okay at first, you know, just driving around, asking me dumb questions like they all do. Then he put his hand in my crotch and started feeling me up but not like most guys do. He was squeezing hard and I told him to quit it. He just laughed and said I'd learn to like it and he got hold of my balls and squeezed really hard. I tried to move away but he had a real hard grip and he just laughed some more and told me to pull my pants down. He said he wanted to see his prize, that's what he said, his prize. I said no `cause he was too rough and moved away across the seat."

He finished his Cream of Wheat and went on, emotion finally beginning to creep into his voice. "So he starts driving faster and all the time he's talking, saying stuff like `I know you boys, I know what you want' and `come on, pull that thing out and let me see what I've got' and stuff like that. When I wouldn't do it he got mad, you know? And he slapped my leg and tried to pull my pants open. I said `I'm getting out of here' but he was going too fast to jump out. Then he had this knife in his hand. I don't know where he got it but he started screaming at me that he was going to get my dick and when he went to cut me I just opened the door and fell out." He was breathing heavily, his voice high with fear.

"That must be when you cut your head and bruised yourself up," I said, trying to relieve some of his tension.

He looked at me and some of the fear went out of his eyes. "Yeah, I guess so. He caught me with the knife as I fell out and almost..."

"Almost did what he intended to do," I finished for him. "Thank God you moved when you did."

"Yeah. Thank God." He unconsciously ran a hand over his crotch. "I guess I could of lost it, huh? Jesus." He stared into space for a few seconds, I think thanking whatever gods he had for sparing him.

"Look, shouldn't we tell someone about this? Like the police?"

His eyes went hard and the answer was "No." His inflection said there would be no argument about it and I didn't try.

"Then is there anyone who needs to know where you are? Anyone who's going to be missing you?"

He thought for a moment and shook his head. "No one but Fuzzy and BJ and they won't really care. I stay out a lot sometimes."

Fuzzy and BJ turned out to be a couple of guys he stayed with on what I gathered was a fairly informal basis. There wasn't anyone else.

When I asked how he'd gotten to my place--or even known where it was--he was vague. He thought he'd probably walked but wasn't even sure where he'd been when he jumped out of the car. As to knowing where to come--he gave an almost shy smile and said he'd followed me one afternoon, after one of our days together. Just to see. I let it pass.

When Jack and Carlos rang the bell I was just taking the artichoke quiche out of the oven. Carlos immediately recognized the aroma and broke into a broad smile.

"I told you he'd do the quiche," he said, nudging Jack.

Jack put on a mock grimace. "Yes and now you'll be bugging me to learn to make it. Damn it, Dan, why can't you just do some of those little pastry things from the store?"

I smiled. "Don't worry. I made three of them and you get to take home what he doesn't eat here."

"That won't be much," Jack grumbled, hugging me. "It's good to see you. We've missed you this past couple of months. New book?"

We sat in the living room with glasses of wine and caught up on things while the quiche cooled. These guys are my best friends and we're always easy together. Finally Carlos put his glass down and asked who and where his patient was.

"In the bedroom, flat on his back. He had, uh, sort of a run in with a guy with a knife and the emergency room said he needed to see his regular doctor pretty quick. You turn out to be his regular doctor." He pressed me for some details but I thought it better that he see Chip first so I took him into the bedroom and introduced them. He did a little double take when he first saw the boy but otherwise he was very professional. I left them to get acquainted and examined.

"So who is this guy," Jack asked, sampling one of the squares of quiche I'd put on a plate and brought into the living room.

"Just a kid I know. It's a little hard to explain. Let's wait until Carlos comes back so I only have to tell it once."

A half hour later Carlos came in shaking his head. "That's quite a boy you have in there," he said, refilling his wine glass. "Quite a boy."

Jack, who's about the brightest man I know, picked up on it right away. "Boy? A kid? Just how old is this person you're harboring, Dan?"

I waived the question away. "What do you think, Carlos?"

"Someone did a pretty good job on him but County seems to have done a good job too. I might have done it a little differently but... Well, he's going to have something of a scar on his abdomen where they used those butterflies."

"Will he... function okay?"

Carlos laughed. "You mean sexually? Sure, that part's okay. The cut isn't deep enough to catch any major nerves or blood vessels. But I think I'd give him a rest for a while--at least until we get the butterflies off." He kept his voice even but the question was there.

"No, no. Wait a minute. That's not... I mean, he and I... Look, guys, you know me well enough to know I'm not into kids."

"Well, I thought so but I guess there's always a first time."

"Wait a minute." Jack raised his hand. "What kid?"

Carlos smiled at me but he was speaking to Jack. "He has a sixteen year old kid in there. A hunky, sweet faced, hung like a porn star sixteen year old boy. One who came very near to loosing his star quality. Now," he directed his attention back to me, "tell us. Every thing. Every detail, every fact, every nuance."

I did. From the first time I saw Chip through feeding him his lunch at two that afternoon. I told them what Richard had said--leaving out the part about Maryanne Goes Shopping of course--and what I thought about what he said. I even told them about looking at Chip's dick when he peed.

It took a long time. Somewhere in the middle Jack phoned the couple they were to have dinner with and canceled and towards the end he phoned again, this time for pizza. Carlos said it would be okay for Chip to have a little of the pizza so we all went into the bedroom and ate together. Chip didn't say much but he seemed pleased that I brought them in and they did what they could to include him in the conversation. For most of it Jack couldn't keep his eyes off Chip.

After dinner Carlos wrote a couple of prescriptions for Chip and told me to call his office on Monday to make an appointment to get the stitches and butterflies taken out. He also offered some good--if indelicate--advice on taking care of Chip's elimination needs while he couldn't sit. "And please, give him a good sponge bath. He's beginning to smell," Jack said as a parting shot.

Chip was tired when Jack and Carlos left so I deferred the bath until the morning, tucked him in and said good night. I tried to sleep on the couch but couldn't. I was still afraid Chip would wake and need something so I finally got a blanket and stretched out on top of the bed next to him.

The next morning, after breakfast, I took a pan of warm water and some towels into the bedroom and set them on the bedside table.

"What's that for?"

"You. You may not have noticed but you're beginning to smell like an over worked race horse."

He raised his arm and sniffed at his arm pit, confirming my observation. "I guess I do," he said with a grin. "You going to wash me?"

"I am." I pulled the covers back, turned him over and began with his neck. He seemed to be enjoying it until I got to his buttocks.

"Dan? Better stop. I gotta... You know. Shit."

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. I got a basin, helped him turn over and let nature take its course, just as Carlos had said it would. It wasn't pleasant but we got through it. After he was cleaned up we went back to the bath.

I had to be careful around the stitches and the butterflies and I conspicuously avoided his crotch. When I finished I handed him the wash cloth and said, "Okay, you can do the rest."

"Oh, go ahead. I don't care," he said.

"Well, I do. A guy your age should wash his own dick. And don't forget the part under the foreskin."

He rubbed the cloth ostentatiously over himself, peeling his foreskin back and then pulling it up again several times. When he began to get hard I got up and went to the door. "I'll leave you to your play. Call me when you're finished and we'll change the bed. Oh, and don't squirt anything on the walls if you can help it."

"Wait. Please don't go." He let go of his dick and actually looked contrite. "I just thought... I don't know. Maybe you'd like it if I... You know."

I took the cloth from him, rinsed it out and handed it back. "Just wash, okay? Don't worry about what you think I might or might not want to see you do." I sat on the uncomfortable chair and watched him. "Look Chip, you are an extremely good looking guy and you're hung like a young stallion. Of course I like to look at you--naked or dressed--but I don't want you performing for me. Just let it be, okay?"

He nodded and I thought perhaps he actually understood what I was talking about.

When he was clean I got him out of bed and propped him up against the chair while I changed the sheets. "I noticed last night," I said as conversationally as I could, "that you said more than once that you wanted a beer with the pizza. I was just wondering--is there something here that I might consider a problem?"

There was a long silence while he worked out what I was asking. I guess I glanced over at him just as the light dawned and he suddenly grinned. "Oh. You mean do I need a beer? No, Dan. I do not need a beer. I just thought one would be nice, that's all."

"Good. If there was a problem we'd handle it but I'm glad we don't have to."

Chip spent the day in bed, sleeping mostly and I worked on the book. When I told him I was going out to get his prescriptions filled and do some grocery shopping he asked if I would get some macaroni and cheese and some chocolate ice cream. He ate both--in large quantity--for dinner and I decided both of them were comfort foods for him. I added them to the permanent shopping list.

That night I tried the couch again and again I ended up on the bed with Chip. Around two he woke me and asked why I wasn't in the bed. I didn't have a very good answer so I stripped out of my clothes and crawled under the covers. "That's better," he said, putting his hand on my forearm and slipping back into sleep. It was better and I liked the warmth of his hand on my arm. I went to sleep hoping this wasn't the start of something I didn't want to happen.

In the morning, holding Chip as he stood at the toilet I felt the strength in him and I wondered how long this little pleasure was going to last. As it turned out, not long.

I spent the day working while Chip watched TV and slept. That night I was aware of him slipping out of bed and going to the bathroom by himself. In the morning he waited for me to help him but I sent him off alone. I told him he needed the exercise.

That afternoon, obviously bored with TV, he wandered into my study and stood next to me, watching me type. Having a sweet, naked, good looking kid standing at your elbow does little for your concentration and I lost my train of thought almost immediately.

"What're you doing?" he asked when I looked up.

"Writing." He gave me a quizzical look. "You know, a book. That's how I make a living, writing books."

"Really? Writing books?"

"Yeah. What'd you think I did?"

He shrugged. "I never thought. I just figured you were rich or something." He went over to the bookcase and scanned some of the titles. "You write these?"

"Some of them. Um, aren't you cold? You want me to get you a robe or something?"

He shrugged again. "I'm okay. Which one?"

Why did he insist on doing that to me? "Which one what?"

There was that exasperated look again. "Which one did you write?"

I went over and stood next to him. "These are mine. Those," I indicated a small group of paperbacks with rather lurid covers, "when I was just starting out. These," the hardbacks and a few paperback reissues, "more recently."

He took down one of the early ones and leafed through it. "Is it any good?"

I laughed. Some people aren't subtle at all. "Not very. Lots of sex, not much thought. But it kept food on the table for a while. The later ones are better."

He nodded and wandered out, taking the book with him. I went back to work.

Three hours later he was back. "Not bad," he said, putting the book back on the shelf and taking another one. "I liked the sexy parts. A couple of places it made me hard." He contemplated the cover of the book in his hands. "Did you? Get hard I mean. Writing it?"

"I guess I did. As I remember, that's why I wrote it. That one, too."

He looked at the book again and then put it back. The ultimate rejection? "I'll save it for tomorrow." He grinned at me. "Don't want to wear myself out." He went into the living room and I heard him rummaging around in the books there. Then he was back. "Can I have a Coke?"

"Whatever's in the kitchen, you may have. Whenever you want. I think I'll have one too." I saved my file and shut down the computer knowing I wasn't going to work anymore.

Chip came in and handed me a Coke in a glass with ice. "I don't like it right out of the can," he said, showing me his own glass. "I thought you wouldn't either."

How'd he know that? "Did you find any interesting books in the living room?"

"Yeah. A couple. Art books and stuff."

The `stuff' I thought was probably the folio of male nudes my friend Mickey had done for me for Christmas. When we went into the living room I saw I was right. The folio was spread out on the coffee table.

"You like that?" Chip asked, gesturing vaguely towards the coffee table.

"Yes. They're very good." I explained about Mickey being my friend and a locally respected artist.

Chip leafed slowly through the drawings, cocking his head to get a different perspective on one or two of them. "I can do that," he said, putting them back in the folio. "What are we having for dinner?"

We settled on macaroni and cheese again, this time with some broiled chicken on the side.

Chip went to bed early. I stayed up for a while, trying to read a mystery Jack had recommended. By page 5, though, I gave up and let my mind wander, trying to figure out what I was doing. For all his distractions I realized that I really liked having Chip around and I wondered how I was going to feel when he decided he'd had enough of hanging around me and went back to the streets. Would I let him do that? The real question was could I stop him? I knew I'd try but then what the hell was I going to do with a sixteen year old kid? He was liking the support I was giving him--and maybe the affection, too--but where was that taking us?

I finally gave up, decided I'd just have to live with whatever bits of broken heart he left me with and went to bed.

As soon as I got under the covers Chip moved over in his sleep and laid his hand on my arm. I was struck by the image of him, playing with himself that first morning I gave him a sponge bath, and I suddenly wanted to masturbate. I touched myself once, just to see how pleasurable it might be and then turned over, making my erection inaccessible. Chip laid his hand on my shoulder and I drifted off to sleep, the image still in my mind.

The next morning after breakfast Chip insisted on doing the dishes and I let him, watching for a while as he stood naked at the sink, unconsciously humming to himself. When he was finished he came into the study and asked if he could have some paper and a pencil. I was already listening to my Muse and absently showed him where the printer paper was kept and let him dig around in my desk drawer for whatever else he wanted. He disappeared into the living room and was quiet until lunch time when I heard him banging around in the kitchen.

"You want a sandwich?" He was carrying a tray of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, some chips and a couple of Cokes. I noted that he had cut the crusts off the sandwiches and that somehow charmed me.

He asked me about the book I was writing but paid scant attention to my answers, his mind obviously on other things. When we finished eating he took the tray away and I didn't see him for the rest of the day although I was aware of him moving from the living room to the bedroom and back several times.

My Muse fled around seven when the door bell rang and startled him. I barely managed to head Chip off from answering the door.

"I'll get it," I said. "You're not dressed for it."

He looked down at his nakedness and shrugged. "Whatever. It's the pizza man. You need twenty dollars." It seems that he'd grown hungry (he's always hungry I think) and, deciding I wasn't ever going to prepare dinner, he'd called for pizza.

After dinner--and no mention of wanting a beer--he said, "You want to see?" I looked at him and wondered what else there was to see but I nodded anyway. He went to the bedroom and came back with several sheets of paper which he thrust out at me. On top was a meticulous copy of one of Mickey's drawings.

It wasn't an exact copy I saw when I looked more closely. He'd substituted my face for the model's--and done a very good job of it. There was another change too, one I probably would have missed if the picture hadn't been my favorite and I hadn't looked at it a lot. He'd circumcised the model. I looked at him with a raised eyebrow.

"Well, that's the way you are," he said with a smile. "You want it to be right, don't you?"

"When... Never mind. I don't want to know. It's beautiful Chip. About the best copy I've ever seen. And very flattering. I never had a body like that."

The picture underneath was even more startling. It was a self portrait, full length, and very well done. It was a near perfect likeness except for the butterflies holding his belly together and the stitches in his head. He'd turned the butterflies into rather whimsical buttons which fastened down tongues of skin. The stitches were exaggerated, the way they always are in a cartoon of Frankenstein's monster. Getting carried away he'd also added a peg or two at the neck, holding his head on.

The third picture was another self portrait, this time from behind. His head was turned to a quarter view of his face--the side without the stitches--and the stance was legs wide apart, his left arm at ease and the right partially hidden in front of him. There was something not quite right about the perspective but I had to study it for quite a while to figure out what it was. It finally occurred to me that he'd drawn exactly what he'd seen looking over his shoulder so parts of the body were slightly foreshortened. It didn't matter.

"These are very, very good, Chip," I said, spreading them out on the coffee table. "Even this one, with my silly face on it, is good but these other two are wonderful. May I have them? I'd like to have them framed so I can hang them in the study."

Chip actually blushed. "You really like them? You're not just saying that?"

"Remember that day we talked about being honest? That applies to me, too. Yes, I really like them." He was seriously pleased.

Chip went to bed to watch some mindless movie on TV and I sat in the study, the drawings lined up on my desk. The more I studied them the more small flaws I found in them but the overall impression was still good. I wondered what Mickey was going to say when he saw them--especially when he saw the one with my face.

When I went in to the bedroom Chip was still engrossed in the movie--which seemed to consist of nothing but car chases and over done explosions. I laughed at my impulse to undress in the bathroom--obviously I had nothing to hide. I also laughed at my feeling of masculine inferiority, shucked out of my clothes and went to take a shower.

"This bother you?" Chip asked as I climbed into bed.

"Not if you turn it down a notch or two." He worked the remote and I settled in to sleep. Before I drifted off I felt his hand gently settle against my arm.

The next afternoon we went to see Carlos, to get the stitches and butterfly clips removed. When Chip put one of my sweat suits on I realized that it was the first time he'd had any clothes on in the week he'd been with me.

Carlos had a new nurse at the desk in the office, a pretty young man I'd never seen before. "Mr. Williams?" he said, looking past me at Chip. "I see this is the first time we've seen your son so we'll need some information for his file." He handed me a fist full of forms which I simply handed on to Chip.

"Just fill out what you want to, son," I said. "Dr. Higuera can figure out the rest." Chip took a pen and looked the forms over. I smiled when he wrote `Chip Williams' in the `name' space on the top form. I picked up a magazine and left him to it. Whatever he put down was going to stay between him and Carlos--and, I supposed, the pretty little nurse.

When Chip finished with the forms--most of them blank--we were shown into the examining room. Carlos came in a minute later. "Nurse Tony out there tells me you didn't give us much of a medical history, Chip," he said after he'd shaken our hands. "Well, no matter. We'll deal with that later. You mind if Dan stays in with us?"

Chip shook his head, looking relieved. I wondered if he'd ever been to a doctor before.

Carlos looked at the stitches and gave a satisfied nod. "I won't tell you this won't hurt, Chip, because it probably will, a little. I'll be as gentle as I can."

I saw Chip wince as the first stitch was clipped and pulled out but he didn't flinch. He did reach out and put his hand on my arm though, squeezing as each stitch came out.

"Okay," Carlos said. "Done. You all right, Chip?" Chip nodded and loosened his grip on my arm a little.

Carlos had Chip take the sweat pants off and lie back on the table so he could work on the butterflies..

"Is it okay?" Chip asked in a thin voice. "I mean, it's not going to split open or anything is it?"

Carlos, bless his heart, didn't laugh. "No. You've healed remarkably well and it's your own flesh that's holding you together now, not the cleats. You'll be fine." Chip gave me a weak smile and nodded. I guessed he was worried about symbolically spilling his guts and he wasn't ready for that. I wondered if he ever would be.

The butterflies were, if anything, easier than the stitches until Carlos got to the one just next to the base of Chip's penis. "Well, well," he said, "it seems they did a better job than I thought. There's a couple of stitches down here, too." He took the last butterfly out and turned to me. "Dan? You want to give me a hand here? I need you to hold his testicles out of the way while I nip these two stitches." He looked up at Chip. "You mind? If you do I can get Nurse Tony in here to do it."

Chip attempted a grin. "No. It's all right," he said to Carlos. Then to me: "Just don't squeeze, okay?" He let go of my arm and then reached out, taking my left hand in his. "Let's do it."

I tried--unsuccessfully--to control the slight tremor in my right hand and gently cupped his balls, lifting them up and to the side so Carlos could work behind them. I was struck by how warm they were and how heavy they felt in their soft sack. Chip closed his eyes and grimaced when each of the two stitches came out.

"That's it," Carlos said, holding up the last of the shiny thread. "You'll have a little scar along here," he traced the wound with his finger, "but it'll hardly be noticeable. Those guys down at County did a very fine job on you, my boy."

Chip sat up, looked down at himself and smiled. "Thanks Doctor Higuera. You do a good job too. It hardly hurt at all." A lie but a nice lie.

While Chip dressed, Carlos asked him when his last physical had been. From Chip's blank look we both assumed the answer to be `never'. Carlos looked at me and I nodded. "Well, then, I think it's probably time you had one. Why don't we schedule one for next Friday. Okay Chip?"

"What's that? A physical."

"Better than what you just went through, I can tell you that. We'll look you over, poke you here and there, listen to your innards work. You'll give us a little blood which isn't nearly as bad as it sounds, pee in a cup and then, just to annoy you, there'll probably be a shot or two. Things to keep you as healthy as you are. Okay? And then, if you're a good little solder, I'll take you and Dan home for dinner. I think Jack has some special thing he's just dying to prepare for company."

Chip looked dubious but he agreed. After a few instructions about keeping the healing wound clean and applying salve every eight hours, we found ourselves out on the sidewalk, looking for a cab.

"We could walk," Chip said. "It'd be cheaper."

"You feel up to it? You've had a pretty rough day."

He shrugged, telling me I didn't know what a rough day was, and set a pace down the street. A block up he suddenly stopped and waived at a young man approaching us. "BJ! Hi!" he called out.

The young man paled and stopped dead in his tracks. "Meat?" He ran up and clapped a hand on Chip's shoulder. "Where you been, man? We thought you dead."

Chip shook his head. "Why'd you think that?"

"Man, you gone away so long and we thought--you know, like Ty and Buzz. Dead."

There was a moment of silence before Chip asked the obvious question.

"Oh, yeah, man. They dead. Fuzzy said. They all cut up, their dicks gone and everything. You don't know?"

Chip looked suddenly shaken and I knew immediately what was going through his mind. BJ went on to say that all the guys were getting scared and some of them had left town, afraid they'd be next. Even Fuzzy had gone back to Chicago and BJ had moved in with his girl friend because he was afraid living in the same place Ty and Buzz had lived.

"What about my stuff?" Chip asked, probably knowing the answer.

"Your stuff, man? Well, see, we thought you dead or gone or..." he shrugged his shoulders the way Chip sometimes does. "So we sorta divided it up. You know, so's it don't go to waste."

"Even my Stetson? Who..."

"Fuzzy. Fuzzy take that `cause it fit and he, you know, he likes it." He finally figured out that Chip might actually want his things. "Me, all I got is your underpants, see?" He popped open his jeans and showed off a stained pair of emerald green French silk briefs. "You can have them if you want."

I was afraid he was going to take them off right there on the street but Chip shook his head in time. "No, that's okay, BJ. You keep them. But I'll sure miss that hat." It nearly broke my heart when I realized that was that. Chip had exactly nothing to his name. Even the sweats he was wearing belonged to me.

"Look, man, I gotta go," BJ said, buttoning his pants. "You know how it is."

Chip nodded again and gave him a friendly pat on the arm. "Yeah, I know. See you around, huh?"

BJ took off fast and we started walking up the street again. I noticed that Chip had changed sides, walking close to the buildings, away from the street but watching it nonetheless. A couple of blocks later he quietly asked if he could get a hair cut.

I hailed a cab and we went up to David's shop.

To be continued...


Comments, criticism and notes gratefully accepted and always answered.

Greg Bowden