You got your mama's style
but you're yesterday's child to me
You think that's where it's at
but is that where it's 'sposed to be
You're gettin' it all over me
My my baby blue...
Yeah, I been thinkin' 'bout you
My my baby blue...
Yeah, you're so Jaded...
...and baby, I'm afraid of you.
"Jaded" -- Aerosmith: Just Push Play
Words & Music by Steven Tyler & Martin Frederiksen
Copyright 2001 Aerosmith Music, Inc.
Published by EMI/April Music Co.
The room was becoming dimmer. "No..." Dylan whispered. "I can't fuckin' believe it."
Angel leaned down close to his face and grinned wickedly. "I thought the email was a particularly nice touch. Like that picture? That's K.C. You met him the other day. That kid is so hot..."
With a loud cry, Dylan clicked off the video, then slammed the remote to the floor, smashing it to pieces, and lunged for the boy.
"WHY?" he screamed, squeezing Angel's neck and slamming him up against the velvet-covered theater seat. "WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?"
Angel began to gasp, pushing back at Dylan with all his strength, his arms flailing uselessly against the hulking athlete. "You... you don't wanna hurt me... Dylan," he choked. "I'm gonna win... no matter what you do to me."
Shaking, Dylan gradually released his grip and let the smaller boy sink back against the plush red cushions. Both of them glared at each other for several seconds, gasping for breath. Suddenly, there was a loud bark from the doorway. The beautiful Afghan Hound trotted into the room and walked up to Dylan, nuzzling his hand.
"She's... she's not supposed to be in the house," Dylan said, dully. He absent-mindedly stroked her head.
Angel coughed twice, then sat up and cleared his throat. "I thought... I thought Lady was kinda cold outside, so I let her in when I opened the side door."
"Yeah." Dylan sighed and sat next to the boy, and the dog obediently put her head in his lap. He continued scratching her behind the ears, and she closed her eyes with gratitude.
"Why would you do this to me?" he said in a low voice, almost a whisper. "Angel, I... I would've done anything for you."
"I know you would," Angel replied. "I was just havin' a little fun, y'know?"
"Wait a minute!" Dylan said, the world coming back into focus. "But the phone call..."
Angel smiled. "That was cool, huh? I let my computer make the call while we were out in the barn. I did it when I knew nobody would be home, and it left the message."
"The blank piece of paper?"
"Aaaaa, I was just throwin' you off balance. I saw that in an old Miami Vice episode on the USA Network. Pretty cool, huh?"
Dylan had had about enough. He gingerly pushed the dog off his lap, jumped up, grabbed Angel's shirt collar, then put his face right next to the boy's.
"No, it wasn't," he said icily. "It was totally fucked-up! I swear to God, I loved you, Angel! All the shit I've done for you... the gifts... the favors I did for you..."
Angel shrugged his shoulders, then gently pulled Dylan's hand off his shirt. "Oh, yeah, all that was pretty nice of you. It's just that... I kinda decided that it was time for a little change."
Dylan stared at him curiously. "Change? How?"
Angel casually rearranged his long hair, then gave the older boy an icy stare. "For one, I'm callin' the shots from now on. When I want you to do shit for me, I don't want any questions."
Angel looked around the room. "How much did this room cost?"
"What does that have to do with anything?" Dylan asked, exasperated.
"It has everything to do with it." The boy smiled again.
His expression sent a shiver down Dylan's spine. He thought for a moment. "I dunno. A couple hundred grand maybe? Something like that. I remember my Dad complaining that it took like six months to install."
"Two hundred thousand dollars," Angel mused. He rolled the dollar figure around in his head. "And how much is this house worth?"
"What do I look like -- a real estate agent?" Dylan retorted.
"Ah-ah-ah!" warned the boy, shaking his finger. "Just answer the question, dickweed."
Dylan thought for a moment. He dimly remembered a conversation between his mother and the lady who had helped decorate the house three years ago. "I think it was somewhere under $6 million. But it's worth more now, I think."
Angel nodded. "Yeah. Thought so. That's a whole lotta bling-bling, don't ya think?" He paused and stared at the young athlete.
At last, Dylan understood. "But that's not my money!" he protested. "I'm just a fuckin' kid! I get an allowance, plus I got a coupla charge cards for gas and expenses. Then I've got some stock and a few thousand bucks in a savings account that I can't touch. That's all I've got!"
The boy leaned over and poked Dylan in the chest. "Find a way to get me $1000 a week."
"But..." Dylan began.
"But NOTHIN'!" Angel snapped. "Just do it. Or your Dad gets a digital picture of you and me together. I'd bet he'd be real interested in what his big macho quarterback son was up to."
Dylan was so stunned, he was speechless.
"Imagine your Dad's face when he gets to his office Monday morning, and he sees that up on his Email. 'MCallahan1@demillecorp.com', right?"
Dylan nodded glumly. He even knows Dad's private email address, he thought. He dimly remembered Angel using his computer once or twice.
"I wonder what he'd think if he saw JPEGs of my dick in your mouth?" Angel pantomimed the motion and giggled.
The older boy leaned back in the padded chair, horrified at the image.
"And another thing," Angel continued. "I want you to call me every morning at 8AM and check in to see what I need from you that day. I have some plans for you, dude. I'm gonna rock your world."
Dylan sighed. A tear trickled out from his left eye. "Lil' dude... please don't do this to me. I swear to god, I've never loved anybody like I do you. Please." He reached out and pulled Angel to him and hugged him, kissed his neck, then began sobbing on his shoulder.
"Please," he continued. "Angel, I'd do anything for you. I beg you... just don't do this to me." He stroked the younger boy's long hair, letting it cascade through his fingers and onto the boy's shoulders. "I love you so much, lil' dude," he whispered.
After a moment, Angel wriggled out of his arms. "And one more thing, asshole: stop calling me 'lil' dude!' I hate that shit! Jesus, you are so fuckin' lame!"
The boy glanced at his watch. "9:45. Mom's gonna be back at 10. C'mon, gimme a ride home." He walked towards the doorway, then paused and turned around. "C'mon! Let's move it, bee-yatch!" He snapped his fingers.
Dylan glared at him, but didn't move.
"Hurry up, dip-shit! I don't have all day!" the boy said, then turned on his heel and continued down the hall.
Dylan sighed, felt his pants pocket for his car keys, then glumly followed him out the door.
* * * * *
By 2AM, Dylan was still unable to sleep. He stared up at the ceiling, then glanced down at his bed. Lady was curled up beside him, snugly ensconced in several layers of blankets. She was blissfully content; it was a rare treat to sleep with her master instead of outside in the cold doghouse.
He reached down and petted her head, then sighed. I still can't believe it, he thought. How could I have been so wrong about Angel? He's just a kid! He can't do this to me!
"A thousand bucks, by Monday night," Angel had said to him. "And call me tomorrow morning. I've got plans for you all day Sunday."
What plans could he mean?, Dylan mused.
Just then, there was a chirp from his computer. "You've got mail!" it announced.
"Shit," he grumbled, rolling out of bed. Lady whimpered momentarily, then snuggled deeper into the bedspread.
Dylan stumbled over to his desk, clicked on the monitor, and stared at his Email inbox.
"This Photo Sucks!" he read off the screen. The message was sent from someone named "MisterNobody@nowhere.com." Great, he thought. It had to be Angel.
He clicked on the icon. The message opened up to show a single line of text at the top:
A picture's worth a thousand words,
don't you think?
Below it was a color photograph of Dylan's face, doing... well, what he and Angel had done only a week ago. Pretty good quality, too. There was no mistaking Dylan's face, though Angel's head was out of the frame, revealing only his lower torso. How could he have hidden the camera? he mused.
Just under the photo was one last comment:
But I bet this one's worth at least $1000.
-- Mr. Nobody
Dylan shuddered, then angrily deleted the message and photo, and shut off the computer.
"Little asshole," he grumbled. He dove back into the bed, and shut his eyes tight, desperately praying for sleep to overtake him.
* * * * *
Promptly at 8:05AM, his phone rang.
Why doesn't Yolanda get it, he thought to himself, as he wearily reached over and fumbled for the phone.
"Hell... hello?" he said, almost dropping the handset.
"Morning, fag!" Angel chirped happily. "Hope you liked the email!"
Dylan immediately sat up. "What the fuck do you want?" he snarled.
"Now, now! You gotta give me my props -- right, homeboy?"
Dylan sighed. "Alright. What can I do for you, Angel?"
"That's more like it. Why didn't you call me at 8AM, like I told you?"
"I guess I overslept," Dylan retorted. "Sorry."
"You better be. Listen, dude, I gotta go to church."
Church? Dylan thought in amazement. Must be some kinda devil-worship group.
"I'll be back at 12:30," Angel continued, "and my Mom'll be at work from 2PM to 10PM. I want you over here, takin' care of me and K.C."
"Doing what?" Dylan asked. "You two don't exactly need babysitters."
Angel giggled. "You'll see. We're gonna have some fun... just you wait."
"2PM, sharp. Be there, or else. Got it... bee-yatch?"
Dylan grimaced. "Yeah. I got it."
"Listen, Angel, I..."
The line suddenly clicked and went dead. Dylan slammed the receiver down and fell dismally back into bed. Lady trotted over and happily licked his face.
"Thanks girl," he said with a sigh. "I know you still love me. Gimme a couple of hours, and I'll get you some breakfast, 'kay?"
The dog barked happily and curled up on the floor in front of the bed.
* * * * *
Promptly at 2PM, Dylan glumly trudged up the stone steps in front of Angel's house. Bracing himself, he rang the doorbell.
"'Bout fuckin' time," said Angel, as he opened the door. "Get your ass in here."
Dylan rolled his eyes and walked in. The younger boy quickly closed the door behind him.
"So what do you have in mind, Angel?" he asked wearily.
"You speak when you're spoken to, slave," Angel snapped. He pointed to the hall on the right. "Get in my room -- now."
Dylan nodded and walked down the hallway, then opened the door. Inside, a blond-haired boy was playing a video game at a side table -- the same boy he'd seen several days earlier, K.C.
The blond boy looked up and grinned. "Dude! You made it!" he said, laughing. "I can't believe Angel pulled this off!"
"Told ya he'd be here," Angel said, giggling. He pushed Dylan inside, then closed the door and carefully locked it.
The two boys walked over to the front of the bed, then sat down and grinned at him.
Dylan rolled his eyes. "So whaddya want? You want me to chauffer you two to a movie, or take you out to eat or something? You wanna go to the mall?"
They both giggled. Angel shook his head. "Maybe later," he said. "For now, let's stick with indoor entertainment."
Dylan didn't like the sound of that. "Like what?" he said warily.
Angel flicked a switch and the TV set on a nearby shelf lit up. Moans and cries of passion began coming out of the speaker.
"Take a look," the boy said, pointing.
Dylan turned and his eyes widened. Two nude, athletic-looking young men in the video were rolling around in bed, using a third to service them.
Angel leaned forward. "That's what you're gonna do for us," he said with a grin.
"No..." Dylan whispered.
"Yes!" both boys chorused together.
Dylan glared at them.
"Take your clothes off, slave... now," ordered Angel.
Dylan clenched his jaw, then reluctantly slid off his T-shirt.
"Cool!" said K.C., giving the older teen the once-over. "Mind if I...?"
"Be my guest!" laughed Angel.
The blond boy walked over to Dylan, took the athlete's shirt out of his hands and tossed it onto a nearby chair, then slowly placed his hands on the older teen's chest and caressed it.
"Man," he whispered admiringly. "You must work out a lot! You've got great pecs, dude."
Almost against his will, Dylan began to feel his heart flutter and a surge in his groin. "Thanks," he muttered.
The boy ran his hands down Dylan's bare chest and across to his powerful arms.
"Make a muscle," K.C. said.
Dylan sighed. He looked over at Angel.
"C'mon! You heard him," the raven-haired boy ordered.
Dylan shook his head wanly, then squeezed his arms upwards in the classic bodybuilder pose.
"Woah!" enthused K.C. He ran his fingertips gently across Dylan's engorged biceps, tracing the ripples and sinews, then brushed by his underarms, across his chest, then down to his stomach. Dylan momentarily flinched and sucked in his breath.
"Ticklish, huh?" the boy grinned.
"Remind me of that later," said Angel, who was pulling off his own clothes across the room.
Dylan lowered his arms but remained silent as the boy reached his waist.
"Gee, you're kinda hairy," he said, rubbing his fingers around the older boy's belly.
"Whaddya want from me?" Dylan spat. "I'm 17. Guys get hair, y'know?"
"Uh-uh," said Angel, shaking his head. "You're our boy. Don't forget that. Keep takin' your clothes off, slave."
"Fuck you, Angel," snapped Dylan.
Without warning, Angel's hand shot out and slapped him in the face, hard, making a sound as loud as a gunshot. Dylan was rocked on his feet by the stinging blow and stared at him, wide-eyed, too stunned to respond.
"You keep your fucking mouth shut," Angel warned. "And don't forget about the pictures. One word from me, and you're dead meat."
"I haven't forgotten," replied Dylan through clenched teeth, rubbing his sore cheek.
"Then just shut up and do it! You're wasting time."
Dylan's face reddened with anger, but he bit his tongue. Trembling slightly, he kicked off his shoes and socks, undid his belt, then unfastened his jeans and slid them off and let them drop to the floor. To his embarrassment, his underwear tented out slightly.
K.C. grinned. "Looks to me like you kinda like all this attention," he said, giving the older boy's groin a poke.
"Hey!" Dylan cried, "watch that!"
Angel snapped his fingers and pointed towards the bed. "C'mon, dip-shit. Let's go!"
Dylan rolled his eyes, then casually pulled down his underwear and kicked them off. "Okay," he said, holding his hands out. "Happy now?"
"I'm not impressed," said K.C., grinning at the older teen's groin.
"What?" asked Dylan, glancing downward. He always figured he was about average in that department; Randi had no complaints when they'd had sex a couple of days ago.
Angel giggled. "Show him, bud," he said, as he leaned back and put his hands behind his head on the pillow.
K.C. pulled off his T-shirt, revealing a very typical 14 year-old boy's body -- smooth, pale, and skinny, with only the faint beginnings of muscles in his chest and arms. He continued with his pants, then slowly pulled off his underwear with a flourish and casually tossed them behind him.
Dylan looked down to the boy's groin and gasped.
"Not bad, eh?" said K.C. proudly.
Dylan's mind flashed back to the football team's locker room, remembering some quick glances he'd had at some of the brothers in the shower. K.C. was every bit as big as any of them below the waist, he thought. Not as hairy, but definitely king-sized.
"Oh! I almost forgot," said Angel, as he hopped off the bed, opened the door, and trotted out of the room, still naked.
"What's he doin'?" Dylan asked suspiciously.
K.C. grinned, then began playing with the older teen's erection. "Just stand there and wait. You'll see."
Seconds later, Angel returned holding a small electric razor, a Lady Remington. "I think our boy needs to be a little smoother."
"Now, wait just a minute..." Dylan protested.
"Shaddup and stand there," Angel barked. "I'll tell you when you need to speak."
He clicked on the razor, then walked over and began to gently run it across Dylan's nipples.
"Ow!" the older teen said, wincing.
"Hold still, or else it'll cut you!" Angel hissed.
The boy moved the device lower on Dylan's stomach, deftly removing the widening thatch of curly hairs that extended down to his groin.
Dylan watched, grinding his teeth in anger, but didn't make a move until Angel slowly inched towards his now-limp groin.
"Hold it!" he snapped, grabbing Angel's arm. "I think that's enough."
Angel laughed, but it wasn't a friendly laugh. He pointed to Dylan's arm. "Take your hand off me. Now."
Dylan did as he was told.
The boy's smile faded as he leaned forward and glared at him. "I'm just gonna do a trim today. But if you ever grab me again like that, I'll make you smoother than a ten year-old. Got it?"
Gritting his teeth, Dylan grimly nodded. The boy moved the razor below Dylan's testicles and flicked on the switch.
"You gettin' all this, K.C.?" called Angel, as he deftly removed the athlete's body hair with several quick strokes.
Dylan heard a 'click" and looked over the boy's shoulder. To his dismay, the blond boy was standing nearby with a small digital video camera.
"Yep. Close-ups and everything. This is too cool."
"Turn around, Dylan," Angel snapped. He leaned down and inspected the older teen's posterior. "Yeah. You definitely need a little trim back here."
Dylan winced as the electric razor vibrated across his backside and ran deep inside the muscular, fleshy crevasse and around his thighs. In less than a minute, it was over with. He looked down, and saw that the floor was littered with a forest of short, light brown hairs.
"Smooth as glass now," Angel said proudly, rubbing the freshly-denuded area. "Well, almost -- smooth enough, anyway."
Dylan sighed and turned back around. "Are we done now? If so, I got some stuff I need to take care of at home."
Angel shook his head and placed the razor down on a side-table, then pulled out a large, realistic rubber object from a drawer and waved it at the older teen.
"I don't think so. Get over here, slave," he said, motioning to Dylan. "Time for you to assume the position."
Dylan glanced over at the monitor and shuddered. Well, he thought. At least the guy in the porno looks like he's enjoying it.
* * * * *
For the next two hours, the two boys rode Dylan as if he were a stallion. It took all of the athlete's concentration and stamina to make it through his torment.
"Just relax and push out a little bit," Angel whispered in his ear. "Don't try to fight it, Dylan."
Dylan winced, as tears sprang from his eyes. Angel began a slow rocking motion from behind. The older teen started to sweat from every pore, then he reached his arms out and gripped the back of the mattress, mentally willing himself to relax. After what seemed like an eternity, the younger boy sprawled across Dylan's back and began speeding up his thrusts to a frenzy, then grunted twice and collapsed, exhausted and sweating.
"My turn," said K.C. impatiently.
Angel slid to the side, then reached up and took out a small black packet from the bookcase above his headboard, and tossed it to his friend.
"Can you believe it?" Angel giggled. "K.C.'s only 14, and he's gotta wear Magnums!"
The boy slipped on the condom and smiled at Dylan. "Hey -- safe sex can still be fun, right? That's what they tell us in school, anyway." He turned to Angel. "Hey, lemme have some more of that gooey stuff. We need a lotta lube here." After a moment, the blond boy leaned over, caressed Dylan's back and playfully bit his earlobe. "Hey," he whispered in the older teen's right ear. "Don't worry. Me and my older brother's done this a lotta times, and he's even bigger than me. I'll go slow, I promise."
Dylan nodded, then braced himself and held his breath. After an moment of intense pressure, the searing pain almost made him black out. He gasped, then buried his face deep into the pillow and desperately forced himself not to scream.
* * * * *
Despite the torment of the afternoon, Dylan's heart raced and his body surged with desire. He hated to admit it, but he found himself almost as attracted to the new boy as he was to Angel.
"That's it for me," wheezed K.C., falling to the side. "Three's about all I can handle in one afternoon." He turned to Dylan, who lay on his back, still wincing with pain. "Hey, thanks, man," the boy said, kissing him gently on the nose. "That was really great."
Dylan caught his breath then glared at the boy. "Yeah. Anytime," he said sarcastically. "You two done now?"
"I'm ready to go again," said Angel, bouncing on the bed. He wriggled over on his knees across the bed, then shoved his groin forward into Dylan's face. "C'mon, slave. Go for it -- just one more time."
Dylan wearily leaned forward, opened his mouth, and did as he was ordered.
* * * * *
It was nearly 5:15 by the time Dylan's BMW pulled into his parking spot in his parent's underground garage. He winced as he got out of the driver's seat and walked to the door.
Fuck, he thought. I'm gonna have a hard time just sitting down. He stared down at his hand, which was still sore from Friday's game. Between this hand and my ass, I'll be lucky to make it to school tomorrow.
Dylan limped upstairs to his room. His desk telephone was frantically blinking with a red message light, but he ignored it and entered the bathroom. He tossed his clothes on the floor, then examined his right hand. It was still slightly swollen, but at least the scab between the thumb and forefinger looked better. He cranked up the shower as hot as he could stand it, then stepped into the stall and let the powerful jets cascade over his body.
Shit, he thought, as he wearily leaned against the tile wall. I can't believe I'm going through this. Dylan thought back to what he'd been through that afternoon. Neither Angel nor his well-endowed friend K.C. seemed to give a shit about how Dylan felt. He'd lost count of how many times they'd used him -- probably just a typical day in the life of a slut like Randi from school, Dylan thought ruefully.
He turned around and let the water splash down his back, wincing only slightly when the hot water hit below his waist. Dylan looked down as the rivulets dripped around his chest and baby-smooth stomach, and sighed. Well, he thought, at least now I can see my abs better without the hair.
He grabbed the soap and thoroughly scrubbed himself, as if trying to remove both the dirt and the experience. As much as he hated being abused by his two young tormenters, he realized the worst part of his ordeal was that they'd never let him climax. "This is our time for fun," Angel had chided him. "You're just the bee-yatch."
Dylan closed his eyes and tried to block the afternoon's activities from his mind, letting the hot water rain down his head and onto his chest. But the vision of the two younger teens kept playing over and over in his imagination, like an endless video stuck on auto-repeat. To his chagrin, he felt a surge as his groin rose to full attention. He looked down and sighed. Only one way to take care of this. He grabbed some extra soap and began stroking. Flashes of memory appeared: Angel kissing him hungrily, then nuzzling his chest; K.C. smiling, then pushing his endowment directly into his face; the three of them rolling together as one on the bed, with Dylan powerless to resist.
His heart pounded. In less than a minute, Dylan erupted all over the shower wall, as the warm water sprayed against the glass, steam filling the room. He was so staggered by the intensity of his orgasm, he had to prop himself up by leaning on the tile wall.
God, he thought with a combination of embarrassment and surprise. I guess part of me kinda liked being their little sex-toy after all.
Suddenly, a loud electronic chirp snapped him out of his post-orgasmic frenzy.
"Shit!" he cried out loud. "The fuckin' phone!" He half-hopped, half-stumbled out of the shower door, grabbing a towel on the way out of the room and caught the receiver on the third ring.
"Dude!" yelled a familiar voice. "Where the hell have you been? I left you two messages on the goddamned phone, and you didn't even call me back!"
Dylan winced and mentally smacked himself in the forehead. Shit, he thought. I totally forgot about Kyle and the game on TV tonight!
"I'm... I'm really sorry, man," he began. "I just got tied up with a buncha shit. I had this..." He stopped as he tried desperately to think of an excuse, but it was hopeless. He sighed. "There was this... thing I had to take care of. I let my cellphone in the car, and I just totally forgot about today."
"The game's already almost half-over," Kyle fumed. "You wanna at least see that, and maybe the highlights afterwards?"
Dylan felt his backside and sucked in his breath at the throbbing pain. "No," he said. "I'm... I'm really not feeling too well right now. I'm still sore as shit. My, uh... my hand, from Friday's game, remember?"
"Where were you, dude?" snapped Kyle. "Did Tracy drag you out again for one of her things?"
"No. I think... I think me and Tracy are broken up," he admitted. "She somehow found out about me and Randi from Friday night."
Kyle almost gasped. "You're shittin' me! Dude, I swear, I didn't say anything to anybody at the party!"
"I know you wouldn't, man. Look... I really got a lotta stuff to do. Homework and shit. I'll see ya tomorrow at practice."
"Dude, you really should let me come over," Kyle said, with concern in his voice. "I'm worried about ya, man."
Dylan smiled weakly. At least he could count on Kyle. "Thanks. I appreciate that. Maybe tomorrow night, 'kay?"
Suddenly, the line beeped. "Hold... hold on, dude," Dylan said. "It might be my folks." He clicked a button, then after a moment, he said, "hello?"
"Hi, bee-yatch," said a familiar voice. "Don't forget the thousand bucks! I want it by 6PM tomorrow, or you-know-who is gonna see the you-know-what. And don't forget to call me every morning at 8!"
Dylan rolled his eyes. "Sure, Angel, if you can remember to turn on your fuckin' cellphone for a change!"
"Yeah... whatever. Bye, slave!"
He cursed silently and clicked back. "Sorry about that, Kyle. Angel was buggin' me again."
"Angel? That little pip-squeak kid? What the fuck does he want?"
"Just reminding me of something he forgot to tell me earlier today."
"Earlier!" Kyle sputtered. "You mean you were hangin' out with that little snot all day instead of watchin' the game with me? I thought we were friends, man!"
Shit, Dylan thought. "No, no -- I, uh, just saw him for a second as I was comin' home on this errand."
"Well, if it wasn't with Tracy," Kyle said icily, "and it wasn't that little twerp, then who were you hangin' out with?"
"Kyle, look, I..." Dylan began.
"Hey, screw you, Callahan!" he snapped. "I'm sick of this crap. You think you're so fuckin' cool, with the car and the money and all that shit! You don't need me. Go hang out with your new asshole friends!"
Before Dylan could say a word, the line went dead.
"God DAMN it!" he screamed. He took the handset and hammered it into the telephone console over and over again, splintering the phone into a dozen different chunks of flashing lights, broken circuit boards, and a rat's nest of cables.
After a moment, he collapsed in a heap on the floor and burst into tears, his body wracked with sobs.
* * * * *
Things went no better the next day at school. During his third-period class, the principal's office forwarded Dylan a note, officially informing him that he was suspended for ten days from the football team 'for disciplinary reasons.' He tried to talk to Kyle in the hallway, but his friend walked right past him, as if he didn't even exist.
After school, Dylan made his way over to the team locker room, which was jammed with several dozen players getting into their practice uniforms.
"Hey, Dylan!" called Jackson over his shoulder. "Good play Friday night!"
No thanks to you, Dylan thought. "Yeah. Thanks."
"You still suspended?" the black teen called.
Dylan nodded as he opened up his locker. "Yeah. But I figured I better show up here anyway. I still can't practice, because of my hand..." and my ass, he thought, "but I figure Coach would kill me if I didn't at least come by."
"If you can't be an athlete, at least be an athletic supporter, right Callahan?" taunted a voice from the left.
He turned and saw the grinning face of Jordy Chandler, team center.
Dylan rolled his eyes. "Fuck you, Chandler," he snapped.
"Fuck you, Callahan," called another player from over Jordy's shoulder.
He looked up, and his heart sank when he saw it was Kyle. His former friend shook his head in disgust, then trotted past him with Jordy and ran outside to join the others at the practice field.
* * * * *
"Gentlemen!" yelled the coach, clapping his hands together. "Listen up! Before we start practice today, I want to bring out our new part-time assistant manager. You all remember Charlie Stephenson?"
Dylan looked up, startled. The other players murmured as a figure limped out from the doorway. One of the other coaches helped him move up to the front of the line, and when he came into view, several of the players gasped.
Charlie's once-handsome face sagged on one side, giving him an odd kind of grimace, and several long, thin scabs ran from the top of his forehead through his right cheek. His eyes were dull, and he'd clearly lost weight over the four weeks he'd been out of school. His head had been recently shaved, and his body seemed to tremble slightly.
Several of the players broke out into applause, but the coach held up his hand.
"It's gonna take some time for Charlie to recover," he said, "but we're all glad to see him back on the team in any capacity."
The boy nodded, then cleared his throat and opened his mouth. The players looked on expectantly.
"I'm... I'm still going through... th-therapy," he said, slowly forming each word as if it took a tremendous effort. "But I'm... b-back at school in the sp-special ed program."
Several players ran forward and slapped him on the back, and the others applauded and whistled their approval.
"That's enough, men," barked Coach Highland. "Let's get back to practice." He blew his whistle. "Defense, go with Coach Barnes. Alternates and second-string, go with Coach Danforth to field two. Offense, come with me. And you -- Callahan!"
Dylan looked up, momentarily startled.
The Coach gave him a steel-eyed stare and pointed off to the right. "Get over to the track. I figure 400 laps is a nice round number for you to handle during your suspension. That's 40 laps a day."
Dylan gulped. "But, Coach..." he began.
"You heard me, Callahan. That's unless you want me to make it 500."
The boy nodded glumly and trudged out to the track.
* * * * *
By 5:30, Dylan was thoroughly exhausted. Despite the cool early November temperature, his practice jersey was soaked with sweat.
Forty laps on this track should be exactly ten miles, he thought, using his elbow to mop the perspiration off his brow. He tried to do the math in his head, but then gave up. Even if he could average a mile in ten or twelve minutes, which would be pushing it, this punishment was probably going to make him late every single day.
Dylan glanced at the vanishing sunset in the horizon, the bright red rays licking stray bits of clouds in the hills to the west. Shit, he thought. I still gotta get the money to Angel. He'd already pulled out $300 from the ATM last night, and he could get another $300 today. I hope the little shit will take a check for the rest.
In the distance, a chorus of whistles blew, signaling the end of practice for the day. Dylan jogged out of the track area and back to the main practice area, where the coaches and assistants were gathering up the gear and putting it in several large wheeled carts. As he jogged up the sidewalk, a voice called out.
He turned to see Charlie Stephenson, who'd just finished gathering up several footballs and dropping them into a canvas bag.
"Hey, Charlie," Dylan said quietly.
The teen limped over and attempted a smile. On his shattered face, it looked more like a grimace.
"My... my m-m-mom said you and Kyle came by the hospital to see me after the accident," he said slowly.
Dylan glanced away, trying not to stare at the crippled athlete. "Yeah. We were all freaked out when we heard what happened."
Charlie nodded, then began to push a large wheeled cart towards the gym office door.
"Lemme help you with that, man," said Dylan, reaching forward.
"NO!" Charlie shouted.
Dylan jumped back, startled.
The boy waved him away. "N-no, Dylan. I've... I've gotta do this myself. Don't try to help me... okay?"
Dylan nodded. "Are you gonna... be okay?"
Charlie looked at him. "You mean am I always... gonna be like this?" he said sadly, pointing to his face.
Dylan didn't answer.
The boy sighed. "My body's alright, but I can't... think as fast as I used to. I remember everything, but it's like... like it plays back too slow or something. The d-doctors... they call it 'aphasia.' It's s'posed to get better over time, but..." His voice trailed off.
"Jesus. I'm sorry this happened, man," said Dylan quietly.
The other teen nodded. "At least you're... quarterback, now. I'd rather it be you than one of those other assholes," he said, pointing towards the locker room. "You... you're a good guy, Dyl-Dylan."
Dylan watched the boy struggle with the cart until he disappeared through the doorway. He walked towards the doorway, then stopped when a voice called again from the left.
He turned, and it was Charlie, trying to smile again.
"Y-you were right in the game, Friday night. Highland is an asshole. Nobody runs a p-pass play in the rain."
Dylan managed a grin. "Thanks, man." He sighed, then pulled his sweat-soaked jersey off over his head and trudged into the locker room.
* * * * *
"This is only SIX hundred bucks!" Angel spat. "I told you -- a thousand cash, or else!"
"Gimme a fuckin' break, lil'..." Dylan started, then stopped when he saw the boy's face darken with anger. "Excuse me -- I mean, Angel, sir."
"Checks are bullshit!" the boy wailed, angrily waving the piece of paper in the air. "Bring me the other four hundred bucks -- in cash -- tomorrow at lunch, or that's it."
Dylan sighed. "Alright. Is there anything else? Sir?"
Angel thought for a moment, then smiled. "Oh, yeah. I definitely got some stuff for you to do tomorrow night."
"I can't, Angel," he replied wearily. "I got homework, my parents are coming back from New York any moment, I've got mid-term exams on Thursday, and I've got football practice every day... it's a fucked week."
The boy fumed, and his eyes flared.
Jesus, Dylan thought. I feel like I'm seeing this little monster for the first time. How could he ever have fooled me?
"Alright," Angel said finally. "I'll give you the rest of the week off. But you're mine all day Saturday and Sunday."
Dylan nodded. "And I'll bring you the $400 at lunch tomorrow."
Angel nodded, then a ghost of a smile danced on his lips. "Did I say $400? I meant another thousand."
"You little fuckin' bastard..." Dylan started.
Angel held up his hand to stop him, then pointed at him. "Or else."
The athlete stood up. "Fuck this shit!" he cried. "You know what? Go ahead and fuckin' tell my father! I don't care. I'll go home right now and tell my whole family I'm gay. I don't fucking care anymore."
Angel looked momentarily stunned. "But..."
"But shit!" Dylan bellowed. "I've had enough of this blackmail bullshit! Tell my parents anything you want."
"We had a DEAL!" Angel whined.
"Fuck you and your deal!" Dylan snarled. "Be glad you got the six hundred bucks, Angel. You and your little butt-buddy K.C. can fuck each other all weekend long -- I don't give a shit! I'm outta here."
With that, he stormed out of Angel's living room and darted down the stone steps to his BMW in the driveway. The boy watched from the doorway as the sports car's engine roared to life, then winced as the tires peeled off in the driveway and tore down the street, leaving a cloud of acrid blue smoke hanging in the air.
"This isn't over yet, Dylan," he said softly, watching the BMW disappear into the distance.
* * * * *
"Alright, men! Before we head outside for today's practice, I wanted to go over some of the plays from last Friday's game."
The coach stood in front of a large projection screen, and the football team members sat sprawled around the team office. A blackboard dominated the side wall, littered with various play diagrams outlined in chalk heiroglyphics, and a video projector sat on a rolling cart, with an ancient VCR just below it.
"Charlie, hit the lights, willya?" he called, as he hit the remote control.
Seconds later, the room was plunged into darkness and the screen lit up. Almost instantly, the players roared with laughter.
Dylan looked up and immediately felt a stab of panic. On the screen was a close-up of his face, smiling and talking to the camera. Judging by the wall visible in the background, Dylan realized the video had been shot in Angel's bedroom, probably two or three weeks ago. The camera suddenly zoomed out to reveal that Dylan was completely nude, and one glance showed without a doubt that his missile was fully engaged and ready for liftoff.
"Come over here, babe," he said through the projector's speaker. "I really need it bad tonight."
Just as the camera started to pan over to the bed, the screen went to black as the coach angrily punched a button on the VCR and ejected the tape.
"CALLAHAN!" he bellowed. "Take your goddamned home porno movies and get 'em outta here!"
The other players hooted and cheered. "Keep it rollin', Coach!" yelled one voice in the darkness. "I wanna see what Tracy Anderson looks like naked!" "Yeah!" yelled another.
The coach flung the cassette across the room into Dylan's lap. "That stunt just earned you another ten laps, Mister Callahan! Get your butt outta here!"
Dylan nodded meekly and inched his way towards the doorway in the darkness, his heart still pounding in his chest. Behind him, the football highlight tape began playing on the classroom screen. Just as he grabbed the door handle, someone touched him from the right.
"Dude!" whispered a familiar voice.
"Kyle!" he whispered back. "I gotta get out to the track."
"Wait!" Kyle pushed the door open and pulled his friend out into the corridor, then closed the door.
Dylan eyed his friend warily. "I thought you weren't speaking to me."
The other athlete sighed. "Look, bro'. I get the feelin' you're in some kinda trouble. Like... somethin' serious."
Dylan felt his heart beat faster as he felt overcome with panic. Could Kyle have figured it out?, he thought.
"I... I can't talk about it," he said, looking down.
Kyle put his hand on his shoulder. "Dude -- I'm sorry about gettin' pissed-off the other day."
Dylan nodded. "Yeah. Me, too. It was my fault."
"Look -- promise you'll talk to me about this... thing, whatever it is."
"Yeah. When I can. Look, I..." Dylan nodded back towards the door. "Coach'll have my ass if I'm not on the track in ten seconds."
Kyle stared at him curiously. "Does this have to do with that Angel kid? Some kinda drug deal or something?"
Dylan blanched, but quickly shook his head. "No -- leave him out of this. I'll deal with it. Look, Kyle, I... I gotta go." He fled out the door, and didn't stop until he made it to the track.
The afternoon sky was gray and cloudy, and a bone-chilling wind howled down from the distant Santa Susana hills to the North. Dylan walked through the chain-link gate, then put his foot up on a metal post and re-tied his sneakers. He glanced around to make sure no one was watching, then took the videocassette out of his jacket pocket, stomped it to pieces on the ground, then tossed the broken chunks of plastic into a nearby trash container. He stared at the wrinkled tape strewn amongst the litter, watching the black plastic ribbon quiver in the wind.
"How the fuck am I gonna get $1000 by tomorrow?" he said out loud. He wearily shook his head, then zipped up his workout jacket, took a deep breath, and began his ten-mile run on the asphalt.