Grounded in Air
Copyright © 2009 by the author under the pseudonym Gee Whillickers. All rights reserved.
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This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any actual place, event, or person, living or dead, is purely coincidental. This story is intended for adults and contains subject matter not suitable for children. Parental Advisory in effect.
** 11 **
It wasn't much later that same eventful evening that Donny and Fred sat in Fred's car, driving to Fred's place. It was getting a bit late for Donny to be going out anywhere, but Laura told them she needed a bit of time to herself after all of tonight's events, and told them that she had no doubt they needed time too, to talk. She strongly emphasized the word talk but her smile indicated more than she allowed herself to say.
Donny was holding Fred's hand across the console of the car. It felt wonderful, as always, but to Donny what was more wonderful was that they were doing it with the tacit permission of his mom. They both sat quietly, each lost in their own thoughts. But the connection of their hands and their frequent looks and smiles spoke the words their voices didn't need to.
They arrived at Fred's house and settled themselves down in his living room with glasses of iced tea nearby. Used to being home alone, and out of habit, Fred turned on the TV with the remote upon entering the room. Neither of them was paying any attention to it though. Since exiting the car they had barely exchanged ten words with each other. It was a warm silence. A gentle silence. A silence filled with love and contentment. A silence that ended when Donny swung his casted leg accidently into Fred's shin as he sat down. Hard.
"Ouch! Geez that hurts!" Fred was leaning over and rubbing his shin vigorously with both hands while Donny watched with a half apologetic and half amused smile on his face. "Nice way to ruin the moment Donny." Fred's laugh let Donny know that it didn't actually hurt that much.
"Sorry Fred. Here, I'll fix it." Donny flipped himself upside down on the couch and smooched Fred's battered shin all better. Unfortunately, the large pendulum of his casted leg continued to swing around and this time hit the side of Fred's face directly on his ear.
"Owww! Geez, quit trying to help me! You'll put me in the hospital! And get that dangerous weapon of a cast away from me you scoundrel!" Fred's mock anger was ignored by Donny, and Fred then flipped Donny around on the couch again, right side up, and pulled him in for a hug.
Donny apologized, but his repeated 'sorrys' were pretty much lost in his ongoing giggles.
"Oh sure. You really sound sorry," Fred said.
Donny answered him by pulling his head back from Fred's shoulder and kissing him firmly on his lips.
One kiss led to another, which inevitably led to more. It had been a long time since they had the luxury of being able to spend any private time alone with each other. It wasn't long before they were lying in each others arms without the annoying impediment of clothing between them. Hands and mouths were moving, rubbing, licking and kissing. Once again, they were finding new and exciting ways to say the most important thing they could to each other, to say, "I love you."
They were still lying naked in each other's arms, considerably messier, twenty minutes later. Neither of them felt much of a need to talk yet. Donny was lying half on top of Fred, still on the couch, facing mostly towards him. They were looking into each other's eyes and kissing, nuzzling, and mostly doing a lot of smiling.
Donny's attention was distracted by the TV behind Fred, across the room. He began giggling as he remembered the last time he'd been here.
"What are you laughing at scamp?" Fred asked, smiling. The TV had been muted long ago.
Donny pointed and Fred turned his head to look. "Look. Gilligan's Island. Maybe we should get dressed and watch. Maybe it would be fun?" It was hard to talk between all the giggles.
Especially after Fred began tickling him mercilessly.
* * *
"You know Donny, I have an idea," Fred said a few minutes later.
"Another one! Great, how do you want me?"
"No, not that kind of idea you rapacious rascal. How do you do that?" Fred asked, looking at Donny's ever stiff penis, "Ah, the stamina of youth. No, I mean an idea about maybe how to help Ryan, and maybe Shaun."
That got Donny's attention. He sat up. "What do we do?"
"Well, maybe not help so much, but at least check to make sure he's ok, that he's being treated ok, at least as well as could be expected in a place like that. I think it would do Ryan a lot of good to know Shaun is safe. He's not talking much about Shaun, but if I'm reading his brooding silences right, when he's sitting there staring off into space, he's a lot more worried about Shaun than he's willing to admit. After we find out, if it turns out that Shaun's not safe, well, maybe there's some things we could do about that too, though that's harder."
"So what's your idea?" asked Donny, pulling a blanket from the back of the couch over his naked body. The air conditioning was getting chilly now that they were sitting still and talking.
"Well, I've managed to get to know Stan fairly well. He's the guy who comes into the school once a month from the city's food safety department. He checks out the cafeteria and makes sure all the staff and students that work there know the proper food handling techniques, and that the cafeteria is hygenic. You know, that kind of thing. We ran into each other a couple of times last year and we usually sit and have a coffee now when he comes around. Turns out we have a lot in common."
"So, how does that help Shaun"
"Well, that camp where Shaun is at, they have a kitchen, and they prepare and serve all of the meals there. I asked Stan about it, kind of grasping at straws. It turns out they haven't had an inspection in two years. They seem amazingly skilled at finding and using loopholes to get around all kinds of laws and regulations."
Donny looked puzzled. "I thought you said Stan works for the city. Ryan said that place is twenty miles away, somewhere in the countryside."
"It is. That's how they've managed to get away with so much. The county's regulations are a lot more lax than they are here, and they don't have nearly the resources. I know you don't exactly follow the news Donny, but maybe you've heard about the resource sharing initiatives between the city and the county, in exchange for water rights? Anyway, it turns out, as of a month ago, the city has agreed to help out with some of those services. I'm thinking if I talk to Stan maybe he can find a way to make sure he's the guy that ends up going out there. I haven't said anything to him about Ryan, or Shaun, but I think, no, I know, he'd be sympathetic. Maybe he could find a way to check the place out, find out how Shaun's doing. I don't even know if it's feasible, probably a long shot, but I figure it's better than doing nothing."
Donny nodded along with Fred's words, looking a bit hopeful. "I don't care if it's a longshot. We've got to do something. Can you talk to him? Like tomorrow?"
"As soon as I can Donny. But I need to talk to Ryan first, and find out how much he's comfortable with me telling Stan. Or maybe you can do that. Maybe when you get home you can call him and fill him in, and then tell me what he said tomorrow. Now, let's get cleaned up and dressed. It's late and I need to get you home, or your mom will change her mind on the very first night. Let's go."
Donny phoned Ryan as soon as Fred dropped him off at home. Ryan was understandably reluctant to have Stan know very much about him and Shaun. Fortunately, Stan wouldn't need to know much, just enough to check on Shaun's condition.
Ryan's voice on the phone was hesitant. "I don't know Donny. I'm not really comfortable with anybody knowing about me, except you and Fred and Ricky. Even those other guys you keep trying to get me to meet, I'm just scared. If my dad finds out..."
"I know. Look, we don't have to say anything really. Fred just needs to tell Stan that you're a friend and that you're worried. That's probably all he needs to know. I just wanted to tell you this before Fred talks to him. It wouldn't seem right to not check with you first. You're the the main reason we want to do this, along with Shaun of course."
"Me? Why? I'm ok. It's Shaun that matters here. So far my dad hasn't said anything. I don't think the groundskeeper knew it was me. I think I lucked out because I only met him once. So why am I the main reason?"
Donny shifted the phone to his other ear. "Because you're worried about him, and you miss him. Even if you won't admit it."
There was silence over the phone for several seconds at this.
Ryan finally spoke. "Ok, so I miss him. I hope we can find out something."
* * *
It took a bit of time. Fred talked to a sympathetic Stan, who was able to put his name into the rotation for the necessary day. Fred was even able to give Stan an unsigned note from Ryan to give to Shaun should any opportunity arise. It was a risk that Fred almost vetoed, he didn't want to get Shaun in any trouble should he be caught with it. But Ryan's insistence and some discussion of conditions and precautions eventually changed his mind. Unfortunately, now that all this was done, they could do nothing more. There was simply no way to find out anything until Stan called Fred back after the inspection. That would be in three days time.
They were all having trouble with the wait, none more so than Ryan. He was looking positively green when Donny saw him the day before the "mission," as they had come to call it.
They were in Ryan's garage, pretending to do some work on Ryan's bike but really just tinkering and talking. The house had too many eavesdroppers amongst the staff.
"Donny, I don't know if I can handle this. It was easier when he was there and I was here and there was nothing I could do about it. All of this makes it real somehow. I mean, I want to know, but I'm scared. For him, and for me."
"Why for you?" asked Donny, looking through Ryan's amazing collection of tools, "I thought you were pretty sure now that your dad wouldn't find out."
"Well, yeah, but I can't help but wonder if Shaun might say something. I mean, I know he wouldn't, at least on purpose, but I've heard stories about that place. My dad's friends with Shaun's dad, so I've heard them talk. The way his dad talks about it makes me want to crap myself. What if they make him say something and they tell Shaun's dad and he tells my dad?"
Donny put down the torque wrench he was examining and turned to look at Ryan. "He won't do that to you Ryan. Not from what you've told me about him."
Ryan didn't look convinced. "Normally, no, but he's in that place and I'm here, and despite what we were doing I didn't exactly treat him like a real boyfriend. I didn't even admit it to myself at the time, so I kinda acted like a jerk to him sometimes. I dunno why I treat everyone so crappy." He tailed off, looking down at the garage floor now.
"You're not treating me crappy. Not anymore. Listen Ryan, you already told me why. 'Cause of your dad, and 'cause you were scared."
"I know, but I still don't know how you can stand to be around me after what I did. And now Shaun's not even here so I can talk to him and tell him what a jerk I was."
Donny moved a bit closer to Ryan and leaned against yet another giant red toolbox before answering. "He knows you're not a jerk. I'll bet he knows why you were like that even before you knew it yourself."
"I hope you're right Donny. Thanks."
The next evening Donny had arranged for himself, Ricky, and Ryan to be at Fred's, awaiting Stan's phone call. They were a quiet group, trying to make small talk to make the time pass, but none of them really succeeding all that well at it. As things always seem to work at times like that, the phone didn't ring for what seemed like millenia, until it finally did.
"Hello?" answered Fred. Donny was staring without breathing while sitting on the couch near Fred. He could see Ryan sitting in the recliner across the room, also looking like he wasn't able to breathe. Ricky for his part was shifting his eyes back and forth between all of them, looking like he was watching a three sided tennis match.
Hearing one side of an important phone conversation where you're really desperate to find out what's going on really, really sucks.
"That much trouble getting in, huh? Really?" continued Fred.
"What about the staff, them too?"
Donny was dying here. He couldn't understand why Ryan wasn't jumping up and down and tearing his hair out by this point. Instead, he just sat there with his eyes closed, breathing deeply and slowly. Ricky was sitting down crosslegged on the carpet now, his elbows on his knees and his chin cupped in his hands, staring at Fred while he talked.
"So did you see him?
"In the kitchen!? Really?
"How did he look?
Aaarrgh!! Donny stood up and began pacing lopsidedly on his cast.
"And the note?
"Ok. So what about the feel of the place? What's it like?
"Well, that's better than I would've thought."
At those words all three boys looked at each other quickly and released their breath loudly.
"Next week? You're sure?
"Ok, Stan. Thanks. I owe you one, and so do some boys sitting here. We all really appreciate what you've done. Now, I'd better hang up and explain myself before these guys' heads explode. Thanks again. Bye."
Fred finally hung up the phone and began talking to the boys. All three of them were melting holes in Fred's head with their eyes.
"Shaun's ok guys. It sounds like it's not quite as bad as Shaun's dad led you to believe." He looked at Ryan when he said this. "It's a religious camp. Baptist. They pray and sermonize and lecture for hours each day, but as far as Stan could tell it doesn't seem like there's any physical stuff, no electroshock or anything like that, despite what you heard Ryan, and from what little he could gather from the kids he talked to, no drugs are used.
"It could be worse guys. A lot worse. I know of one place a bit further South, well, never mind that. Anyway, it turns out that one of Shaun's duties is the kitchen. He's assigned there, so he was there when Stan did his little spiel on food handling safety. Stan says thanks, by the way Ryan, for the picture of Shaun. It made it a lot easier for him. Afterwards, he managed to get a few seconds to tell him you're thinking about him and that you're worried about him, Ryan, and he was able to give Shaun the note. Stan said that Shaun's eyes were watering when he told him, and when he gave him the note. Maybe it was just the onions someone was chopping though.
"Anyway, there's a bit more. Hang on, I know you all want to talk and ask questions, but let me finish.
"The kitchen has a large number of health violations. Nothing real dangerous, but improperly stored food, improperly vented stove, that kind of thing. The camp will be closed for a couple of days next week while they get this taken care of. Shaun was able to tell Stan that he would be coming home for those days, and was planning on using them to work on his dad and mom to hopefully not send him back. He thinks he has a chance, he says his mom is trying to talk his dad out of sending him back.
"That's it guys. That's all I know. But Ryan," Fred looked over at him. Ryan was still sitting in his recliner, but tears were flowing freely down his red cheeks now. "Ryan, you can talk to him next week. He's going to phone you. It sounds like you guys have a lot to discuss."
Ryan's quiet tears suddenly turned into loud sobs, and he had two boys sitting with him, hugging him, and comforting him about one second after that.
* * *
Once again, Donny was in the passenger seat of Fred's car on a Saturday morning. Donny relaxed in the seat and enjoyed the feel of the wind from the open window on his face and the feel of Fred's hand in his own. He was smiling broadly and his eyes were closed as they drove. He flexed his now un-casted leg back and forth, still enjoying the coolness and freedom of it, and very glad that the annoying physio exercises were over with. They were driving to the track. Donny's helmet and gear were in the seat behind them.
Donny felt the car slow and he opened his eyes and sat up. As they pulled into the parking lot Donny's eyes searched frantically, looking for Mr. Crayson's truck. He spied it finally and his eyes were drawn to the trailer behind it, and the item tied onto the trailer.
It was absolutely gorgeous. Shiny white with blue trim, the spokes and wheels and engine covers gleaming. It was the most beautiful bike Donny had ever seen. As they pulled next to it Donny heard Fred laugh.
"By the looks of it I'm guessing you like it?" Fred said between chuckles.
"Oh yeah! It's gorgeous! How did you know though?"
Fred laughed harder and pointed at the tent in Donny's jeans, which earned him a grin and a slap on the thigh.
Once the car stopped Donny was out and walking around the bike, his bike, slowly, barely touching it with his fingertips. It looked almost too wonderful to ride. He didn't want it to get dirty. His thoughts were interrupted by Bill Crayson.
"Well c'mon Donny, get yer gear on. I've spent all day yesterday going over this thing and tuning it. I wanna see what it does. You got forty five minutes on the practice track to get used to it before you race. I'll get the bike down while you're getting dressed."
Donny didn't hesitate. He geared up and had just finished doing up his helmet and pulling on his gloves when Mr. Crayson rolled the bike off of the trailer. Donny swung his leg over it and grabbed the handlebars, shifting the bike's weight between his legs experimentally as he stood there. He grinned up at Bill and Fred, thumbed the the kill switch on and kicked it into life.
Oh bliss. Two slow practice laps and now he was starting to push it a little. He could swear the bike weighed half what his old bike did. And how did they get so much more power out of the same sized engine? It was light as air and perfectly balanced. The throttle, clutch, shifter, all worked with precision, firm and definite. The brakes had more feel than he thought was possible.
Oh, this was going to be fun!
It wasn't too much later that he stood astride his bike at the starting line, the engine hot and throbbing beneath him. He looked up into the stands and gave Fred a thumbs up who was smiling back at him. Looking around at the other kids astride their own bikes at the starting line he couldn't help grinning at Ryan and Ricky.
Grinning at his friends.
They smiled back at Donny as they sat aboard their own mounts.
Wow, was he hard. So hard it almost hurt. The engine's throbbing almost acting like a vibrator against his crotch. He gently twisted the throttle as he waited, the sound of the new bike's engine making his grin even wider.
The gate dropped and the race started. Donny released the clutch to the friction point and twisted the throttle hard. He was in awe at the bike's acceleration as he shifted gears. He was climbing the hill towards the first jump almost before he was ready. He could see Ryan and another rider neck and neck with him, at the front of the pack, readying themselves. He shifted his weight, adjusted his stance, and then he was airborne.
Donny Sherbrook was flying.