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.
** 2 **
Donny sat in front of his television screen with a video game controller in his hands. It was 7:00 PM, a Thursday, about two and half weeks since his last race, since his wheel was mangled. He was alone. He was always alone, but even more so now. His mom now had a second job. She worked three evenings a week as well as a few hours on the weekend at a local fast food establishment.
When she announced the new job Donny wasn't sure what to think. He was pleased, of course, that they would have a bit more money, maybe enough for a new wheel after her first paycheck. But, again, he felt guilty. He knew how hard his mom worked and how tired she always seemed to be. Still, despite the guilt, he was so looking forward to his mom's first paycheck tomorrow and, he hoped, a trip to Mr. Crayson's shop that evening.
He threw the controller onto the beige carpet of the living room floor in disgust after trying for the eighth time to make it past a particularly vexing spot in the game and switched off the TV. He was so bored he found himself opening his math book and actually began working on his homework before his mom hounded him.
Homework finished, no parent to supervise him, the house to himself, and eight o'clock on a school night. Donny did what most kids in his situation wouldn't dream of doing. He went to bed early.
* * *
Friday afternoon. Finally. Donny's mom should have her paycheck and they would be heading to the bike shop hopefully almost as soon as he was home from school. Donny shoved his schoolbooks in his backpack without so much as a glance at any of the other kids. They, in turn, had learned to leave him alone too. He wasn't much fun to talk to, and never really let himself be drawn into any fun or conversations. He didn't care. It was easier this way. He wasn't really sure he like this school anyway. In the few weeks since he'd been here the only thing the other kids really seemed to want to talk about is some kid who was supposed to be kicking the bucket in a few weeks. Nothing at all to do with him, thought Donny.
He arrived home to see his mom backing the van up to the bike trailer. That made him pick up his steps a bit. "Are we going to the shop?!" he asked, his voice pitched higher than usual.
Laura smiled at her son's excitement. "Yes sweetie. Get your bike over here and I'll help you tie it down. Don't get too excited, I don't know if Mr. Crayson will have what we need in stock, and I'm not sure when he can schedule us in."
Donny felt happier, more energetic than he had in weeks. Jumping to his task the bike was loaded and tied securely in no time and soon enough they were pulling into the parking lot of one of Donny's favorite places. Crayson Motosports.
Walking into the shop, the first thing Donny noticed, the first thing he always noticed upon entering the shop, was the smell. He could never quite place it. Oil and gasoline and metal and rubber and exhaust and god knows what else. Donny took a deep sniff without even realizing he was doing it. He thought it was just about the most pleasant smell in the world. Donny looked around the shop. It wasn't particularly large. One end was crammed full of bikes and quads, divided into a section for new and a section for used. Recently Mr. Crayson had added a small section for jet-skis. Everything was spaced so close together it took some work to maneuver around to get to the far end if you wanted to see something in the corner. The other side of the shop was filled with accessories, clothing, and supplies of all kinds. The parts and service counter and the cash desk was dead ahead as Donny and his mom walked towards it. The floor was navy blue painted cement, the ceiling open girders, the walls cinderblock covered with ancient racing posters. Absolute heaven as far as Donny was concerned.
"Hi Mr. Crayson," Donny grinned at the man behind the counter.
Mr. Crayson was a large man. Not fat, but large. Probably six five or better, bulky, with brown hair, long enough to be tied back in a ponytail and a scruffy beard. Donny thought he was one of the most manly men he had ever known.
"Donny. How the hell are ya kiddo? Where've ya been? Haven't seen you here or at any races lately. Tell me you're going to be there tomorrow," said Mr. Crayson.
"Well, um, I'm not sure. My bike, well, I need a new front wheel and tire."
Mr. Crayson rubbed his chin, transferring a small amount of grease onto his neck. "Hmm, Kawi 85 right? Lemme think. You lookin' new or used?"
Laura spoke up for the first time since entering the shop. "Used if you have one Bill. Unless you're giving them away?" she finished with a smile.
Mr. Crayson's loud belly laugh made the plastic jar of tire pressure gauges on the counter vibrate. "Well let's see what I got, maybe we can getcha on the track again tomorrow if we hurry. Whattya think?"
Donny grinned. "Thanks Mr. Crayson, that'd be awesome."
* * *
Saturday afternoon. Donny was glad his mom hated being in the pits before a race. It would've just added to his frustration when she rebuked him for his language. He found an ancient wrench from his dad's old sparse box of tools on the trailer and struggled mightily to tighten the loose, hopefully not broken, right footpeg. The race was going to start and he needed to get suited up.
"God damn piece of shit mother-fuc..."
The pits before a race really, really weren't a place for mothers.
"Easy there Donny. Anything I can give ya a hand with?" Mr. Crayson had walked up behind Donny, listening to the lad's language with a bit of a grin on his large face.
Donny stood up and took a breath. "The footpeg on the right. It fell off on the drive here and I can't seem to get it back in."
Donny handed the wrench to Mr. Crayson and stood back to watch him work. He couldn't help it. His eyes wandered over Mr. Crayson's large frame, fixed on his big muscles and his strong butt as he bent over to work on the bike. Donny's pants begun to tent slightly as his eyes fixated on the view.
A young voice towards Donny's left distracted him from his reverie. "Oh my god Sherbrook are you a fag?! Jesus Christ, I'm gonna let the other guys know. You'd better keep the fuck away from me out there."
Donny, his heart in his shoes, turned towards the source of the vile words. Ryan Tiller. Twelve years old, his dad had more money than most third world countries, and his gear and bike looked it, and he already thinks he's the king of the local circuit. Donny just stared at the boy's face. He had no idea how to answer. It didn't matter. Ryan didn't give him time to come up with one. He had already turned away with a sneer and Donny could see him heading off towards his best friend Shaun.
Mr. Crayson stood up and faced Donny. Staring hard at him, his face impassive.
Donny winced and braced himself for the blast he knew was coming.
For some reason though, Mr. Crayson's eyes turned and followed Ryan. A long few seconds passed, Donny's heart hammering, before Mr. Crayson spoke. "That kid needs someone's boot in his ass in the worst way. His daddy's money don't mean shit. Don't you listen to a word he says Donny" His gaze moved back towards Donny, a compassionate look on his face for a second before his face became impassive once again. "Ok, I'm done." He dropped the wrench back into Donny's toolbox.
Donny was paralyzed. He felt angry and embarrassed, and completely at a loss for how to answer. Instead, his shoulders slumped, and he turned and walked off towards the bathrooms. For the first time in Donny's memory, he really didn't want to be at the track.
Donny hid in a stall in the bathroom, his head down and his eyes shut. He was breathing steadily, his mind working hard at calming himself, controlling his wild emotions. He had learned a trick after reading something on the internet and was trying to visualize a scene in his mind that tended to calm him. The forest near the campground the last time his dad and he had gone camping, when he was six years old. Quiet, the sun shining down, mottled by the mixed pine and poplar trees, creating uneven patches of sun and shadow on the long grass underneath. The smell of pines and wildflowers, weeds and hot summer dust. Even the sun and shadow seemed to have their own particular smell. The sounds of a thousand insects going about their business in the trees and undergrowth. Birdsong drowning out the insect noises from time to time. No wind to blow the trees or the grass, so still it was like a painting. A thousand shades of green and brown livened up by smattering of violet and yellow and red from the wildflowers. The feel of his dad's arms around him as they leaned up against a tree resting on their hike, using the quiet to communicate their love to each other. He could feel his emotions ebbing, the calmness overtaking his body like the arms of his father four long years ago.
Twenty minutes later, Donny sat on his bike at the starting line, his bike idling beneath him. He had managed to get himself together enough to get suited up and get his bike to the line. The calmness he had felt was hard to hold on to after leaving his temporary hiding place. Donny's head swam. He knew the race was about to start but his head just wasn't where he knew it needed to be. He noticed a few looks from two or three of the other riders. Glances. Maybe it was his imagination.
Donny noticed something else. For the first time ever while waiting for a race to start, he wasn't hard.
With a sudden shock, Donny realized the race had started. Damn it, where was his head? He was already a tenth of a second behind.
He allowed his practiced feet and hands to take over and he was off, the power of his bike beneath him starting to clear his fogged head. Soon enough, he was involved, mind and body, and felt his bike respond beneath him to his every subtle nudge and thought. Up and over, then roaring into the first turn, Donny could actually feel the dirt beneath his tires as if the bike was part of his own body. Flicking the handlebars, just a nudge, adjusting his weight, his boot found the gear he needed, clutch out then hard on the throttle again, Donny gained speed for the next jump.
It was good to be back.
The race finished, and Donny was dirty, tired, sore, and grinning again, Donny wheeled his bike towards his trailer. He had finished the race. Not only finished, but managed sixth place. Not bad, after several weeks away and his wonky carb still acting up.
The vile voice of Ryan Tiller ruined it for him once again. "Jesus are you still here fag? Do yourself a favor and crash that piece of shit bike into a wall next time. Save us all some grief."
Donny's grin evaporated. Ryan Tiller was walking by, first place ribbon around his neck and his friend Shaun in tow. Of course he wasn't pushing his bike to his trailer. He had someone to do that for him. Donny did his best to ignore Ryan's existence, but that became impossible.
Ryan stood in front of Donny's bike, the handlebars in his hands and the front tire between his legs, preventing Donny from moving. Ryan laughed in the way of all bullies everywhere, no matter what their age.
"Fuck, Sherbrook, I should apologize. And here I thought being a fag was your biggest problem. You actually ride this piece of garbage? If my dad owned this track he wouldn't let this thing within a hundred miles of it."
Once again, Mr. Crayson intervened. Donny wondered where he had come from, it was almost like he had been watching him or something. Bill Crayson didn't even say anything. He didn't have to. He just used his impressive size and a look of pure disgust on his face towards Ryan, and just stood there, arms crossed, until Ryan walked away with a haughty look. And something else too that Donny couldn't place, wasn't sure he really noticed.
Donny didn't know what to say. Finally, he blushed and feeling guilty for his poor manners turned towards Mr. Crayson, "Thanks Mr. Crayson. Sorry about all the trouble I'm causing."
"Yer not causin' any trouble Donny. That little prick on the other hand needs a good paddlin'. Listen Donny, really, don't listen to him. That was a hell of a race you rode today. If you were on a better bike you would've won easy. You're good. An' as for the rest of it, don't you listen to that hateful shit. I spent half my life in highschool defending my brother from that exact same garbage and I won't sit around and let a kid like you take that from anyone, and before you say anything, it don't matter and I don' need to know if it's true or not, what Ryan's doing is just plain wrong."
With that, Mr. Crayson lifted Donny's bike onto the trailer as if it weighed about as much as a feather pillow and helped Donny tie it down.
Donny sat quietly beside his mom on the ride home. He had a lot to think about.
After his shower, laying on his bed with his hand frantically stroking his hard three inches, this time it wasn't multiple images of different hot guys running through his head. It was only Mr. Crayson. He knew it was stupid. It was obvious that not only wasn't he gay...Donny knew he was living with a woman...but even if he was he wouldn't be interested in a stupid immature kid like him.
After his orgasm he felt even worse than usual. He could hear Ryan's hurtful words over and over again in his head. His racing, the one and only place these days where he felt like he could be himself, and feel happy, suddenly didn't seem the same anymore.
He fell asleep. Donny didn't even come down for dinner and, for the first time he could remember, didn't even bother unloading and taking care of his bike and gear.