Dylan drifted in and out of sleep. His head was filled with a blur of images -- the house was on fire, the horses were screaming, and Lady was barking her head off. Suddenly, the sound of a thousand angry insects filled his head. Great, he thought. Now I'm going to be attacked by African Killer Bees.
He rolled over in his bed and glanced out the nearby window. There was a steady drone of a large power mower outside. Must be the gardeners working, he grumbled, scrunching a pillow down over his head to block some of the sound out. Why do they have to work on Sunday?
There was a knock at the door.
"Who the hell is it?" he moaned. His voice came out muffled and weary through the pillow.
Dylan's father stuck his head in the room. "Son? Thought you might want to see this. It's in today's paper."
Dylan half-slid the pillow off his face. "What time is it?" he asked.
His father laughed. "About 9:30."
Dylan sighed and rolled over, pushing the covers off his bed, then sat up and rubbed his eyes. Sunday was the only day of the week he allowed himself to sleep late, recovering from the brutal workout regimen he and Kyle put themselves through the rest of the week.
"Now what?" he asked, yawning.
His father walked over and handed him the morning LA Times sports section, which was folded open to a small story buried halfway through on page 27. A headline read "Controversy Mars Chatsworth High Victory."
"Oh, shit," he moaned.
He'd hoped this would go away, but apparently, more than one California newspaper had picked up on the Channel 4 news item from the day before. A quick glance revealed the story covered the same ground -- hotshot replacement high school quarterback scores 15 points in two minutes with an almost-suicidal play, the crowd cheers, the coach freaks out, and the kid gets kicked off the team. Another great human interest story.
The elder Callahan laughed heartily and slapped his son affectionately on the back and squeezed his shoulder.
"Congratulations, son!" he exclaimed. "It's your first news story. You beat me by at least six years. Of course, my stuff is boring. It usually winds up buried on the financial page."
On seeing the boy's expression, his father sat next to him on the bed and continued.
"Listen, Dylan," he said, reassuringly. "I know what you told us last night. But it's going to work out -- you just wait."
Dylan shook his head. "You don't know Coach. He's really pissed-off this time."
"Son, listen to me. I know this may seem like a disaster now. Don't forget that old Chinese proverb: their symbol for chaos is also the same one for opportunity. You can find a way to use this situation to your advantage."
"Coach hates my guts," he said bitterly. "He's already kicked me off the team."
His father laughed. "Well, when I was on the baseball team back in '72 in high school, I got kicked off at least three times that year. We still did pretty well, and I talked my way back on every time. We even made it to state, and we coulda won if..."
"...yeah, yeah," Dylan interrupted, "if you only hadn't blown-out your knee the week before the championships, yadda-yadda. I remember, Dad." The boy had heard the story many times before. He grinned over at his father, who finally burst out laughing and stood up.
"That's the spirit, Dylan. No threats, no temper-tantrums. Even if you have to eat a little crow, as long as you still wind up getting what you want, that's all that matters. Compromise is the essence of negotiating, kiddo. You'll learn that someday if you get your MBA."
The teen thought for a moment. "Maybe I can try to make Coach an offer he can't refuse. How 'bout if I leave a bloody football on his bed, sorta like The Godfather?"
They both laughed.
"Try to keep it legal and moral -- at least in the beginning, son. And try to learn from this experience. I bet you'll find it useful later on in life."
His father opened the door, then hesitated. "Dylan, you know, if you wanted, I might be able to pull a few strings with Jack Hayes, the school superintendent downtown. One word from me..."
"NO!" yelled Dylan. "No, Dad. Just let me handle it my way, okay?"
The man sighed. "Alright, Dylan. It's your call. But let me know what happens, either way. Alright?"
Dylan nodded, and his father closed the door. "Fuck," he mumbled to himself, falling back on the bed and pulling a pillow over his head. "He's always tryin' to mess with my shit."
* * * * *
Sunday brunch with Tracy was uneventful. He let his girlfriend do most of the talking, while they ate at Mr. Chow's, an upscale sushi bar on Ventura Blvd. in nearby Encino.
"I said, are you listening to me, Dylan?"
He looked up at her. He'd been staring off into space, thinking about the events of the last few days: the game, the fire, and what he was going to have to do tomorrow about getting back on the team.
"Huh? Shit, I'm sorry, Trace. I've just got a lotta shit goin' on, y' know?"
She grinned and shook her head. "I'm sorry, Dyl. I should've let you tell me what's been going on with you. You seem... kinda different lately. Are you alright?"
He had felt different since meeting Angel. It was like a missing chunk of his life had been found and put back in place, as if it had never been gone.
"Yeah," he replied, smiling. "I'm fine." He reached out and held her hand.
She squeezed his hand, then jumped up. "I've gotta go to the lady's room. Be right back."
Dylan reached for his wallet to pay for the check, when suddenly his cell phone chirped. He flipped it open.
"Hey, man, it's me," said a familiar voice.
"Listen, lil' dude -- I'm... I'm kinda busy today..." he began.
"But you promised! Where are you now?"
Dylan sighed. He felt like he was being pulled apart in three directions at once. "I'm havin' lunch with Tracy."
"That bitch," snapped Angel.
Shit, he thought, momentarily taken aback. That's the first time Angel's been jealous of her.
"C'mon, Angel -- it's not like that," he said, soothingly.
"Then what is it like?" the boy retorted.
This was getting more complicated than he'd planned. Dylan nervously glanced around. Good -- Tracy was still out of the dining area.
He lowered his voice. "Listen, man -- I gotta go work out with Kyle this afternoon, then I've got a shitload of homework tonight. By all that is holy, you got me tomorrow night at 9."
"Okay, Monday night. Where?"
He laughed. "Wherever you want me."
Angel giggled. Almost instantly, he was his old self again. "Cool. Tomorrow night -- in the barn."
"Okay, that'll work. Nine o'clock, sharp. I'm really lookin' forward to it, lil' dude."
Suddenly there was a voice to his right.
"Looking forward to what?"
It was Tracy. Dylan's face fell.
"Look, uh... I gotta go. See ya tomorrow." He clicked off the cellphone, tossed two $20 bills on the table and stood up.
Tracy looked at him curiously. "So who was that?"
"Nobody," he said casually.
She narrowed her eyes. "Nobody that you're gonna meet tomorrow night for a secret rendezvous, right?"
Dylan laughed nervously. "Hey!" he said. "I think you're jealous!"
"That better not be another girl from school," she said, shooting him a dirty look.
He held his hands up in mock surrender. "Swear to god. Just a friend of mine -- and it's a guy. Scout's honor."
She looked relieved, then smiled. "Good. For a moment, I thought you were fooling around with somebody else."
"Trace, you watch too much Dawson's Creek," he said, as they walked from the restaurant and out to the sidewalk.
* * * * *
"Seven, eight, nine, ten... fuck, that hurts!" panted Dylan. He dropped the dumbbell back on the floor with a loud clank, then sighed and wiped the sweat off his brow.
The Powerhouse Gym was the largest and best-equipped fitness emporium in the area. Kyle and Dylan had been going there for nearly two years, since they'd started upping the ante on their workout routines. They usually went at least two or three times a week, in addition to pumping iron at school. But the equipment at Powerhouse was a lot newer and in better shape than the paltry gear at school, making it preferable for serious bodybuilders.
"So, you figured out what you're gonna say to Highland tomorrow?" asked Kyle, as he put the weight back on the shelf.
"Fuck, I dunno," huffed Dylan, who was finishing the last part of his bicep routine. He set the dumbbell down on the shelf, then did a quick pose in the mirror. Beads of sweat trickled down his forearm, and the veins bulged out prominently around his upper arm.
Kyle looked over. "Not bad, man. Shit, I remember when your arms were like toothpicks! What are you up to now -- 18 inches?"
"18-and-a-half," replied Dylan, squeezing his arm to make the bicep peak bulge even higher.
Kyle whistled approvingly. "Dude! Maybe I should try that stacking routine. Deca and Anadrol, right?"
"Yeah," he nodded. "I got that from your buddy Hank at school. He gave me the doses and all that shit."
"He gettin' in some more stuff?" Kyle asked anxiously.
"Yeah. Sometime next week."
Dylan was already running low on the Deca injectible steroid, and would be completely out in another three days. But the steroids were pretty widely available. If he couldn't get them from Hank, he knew a guy down the street at Bally's who had some stuff -- albeit with higher prices and lower quality.
They trudged wearily across the gym floor. Even in the late afternoon, the enormous workout area bustled with activity, as a crowd of would-be bodybuilders, athletes, and just-regular Joes pumped iron and put themselves through punishing exercises on the machines. Half a dozen tired housewives trotted gamely on the treadmills, and two or three fat executive-types pedaled furiously on the Lifecycles. The latest J-Lo hit pounded out from the speakers.
"I think I thought of a way of gettin' back on the team," said Dylan, as he stopped at the water fountain to grab a long slurp.
"Bribery?" laughed Kyle, as he wiped the sweat off his forehead with his towel.
Dylan shook his head. "Naaa. Besides, that wouldn't work anyway."
Kyle thought for a minute, the leaned over close to Dylan's ear. "You could always blow him."
They both laughed as they continued walking into the locker room.
"No. He's not my type," replied Dylan with a grin.
"Okay, then what?"
Dylan opened his locker and pulled out his gym bag, then sighed. "The only thing I can do. I'm gonna apologize my fuckin' head off, tell him it'll never happen again, and that I'll do whatever he tells me to do."
Kyle almost fell down laughing. "So you're gonna throw yourself on the mercy of the court! Dude, that's never gonna work."
"It'd better," Dylan said, slamming the locker door. "If I can't get Coach to change his mind, I'll have to either get Coach Wilson back in charge, change schools or... or I don't know what." He sighed and shook his head.
"You could always kill him," said Kyle playfully. "It'd be the perfect crime. Shit, half the players already can't stand him."
Dylan played along, as they headed outside to his BMW. "Ah, but that's just what he'd expect. Maybe arrange for a serious accident."
"A hit!" added Kyle. "Call up Tony Soprano, and ask him for a favor." Then, in a heavy Italian-accent, he quipped, "I will do this thing for you, my son, because you are a friend of ours."
"Shut up!" laughed Dylan.
* * * * *
As it was, putting a hit out on the coach wasn't necessary. During homeroom on Monday morning, promptly at 8:35, Dylan was summoned to the principal's office. When he arrived, the secretary waved him on in.
"Mr. Meyers is waiting for you, Dylan," she said, cheerily.
Great, he thought glumly. He trudged past her desk and into the room, feeling like the condemned man walking the last mile. Dylan had only been in the principal's office once before, when he'd thrown an eraser at Kyle in class a year earlier, only to have it clobber a teacher, an older woman, right on her shoulder. He'd managed to fast-talk his way out of a suspension for that one, but he'd been lucky. Very lucky.
"Come in, Dylan, and close the door," said the principal from behind his desk. Coach Highland sat uncomfortably in the chair to the left, his face already as red as the insignia on his school shirt. The man avoided making eye contact with the boy.
Dylan walked in and sat down uneasily in the chair to the right, inching it slowly away, just in case the coach tried to lean over and smack him a good one.
The principal eyed him with a serious expression. "Dylan, Coach Highland and I have been doing some talking about this situation with the two of you, and we've come to a decision."
Dylan held out his hands in protest. "Hold it," he said. "Listen, before you say anything... I'm really sorry about what happened at the game. Coach Highland was totally right -- I was wrong. I should've listened to him, and I fu..."
The principal's eyes glared momentarily.
"...uh, I mean, I totally screwed up," Dylan quickly corrected himself. "I swear, it'll never happen again."
The coach looked perplexed, and the principal got up from his chair and stood between them, leaning back against his desk.
"Actually, Dylan," he said, folding his arms, "as I was just telling Coach Highland here, the footage of him shaking you at the end of the game has been aired on several local newscasts. We're concerned that... well, because of your parents, and... Well, let's just say we want to avoid a lawsuit at all costs."
Dylan looked bewildered. "What? Shit! I mean...uh, sorry, Mr. Meyers. Actually, you know my Dad's totally against frivolous lawsuits. He tried to back a state bill to get rid of 'em a few years ago. I doubt if he'd sue you even if Coach kicked me in the ass," he laughed. "Hell, he'd say I probably deserve it."
I hope I'm not piling it on too thick, he thought.
The principal nodded. "I appreciate that, Dylan. Coach?"
The coach looked at him, concern in his eyes. "Dylan, listen," he said in a low voice. "I was out-of-line at the game. You're... you're back on the team, son."
This is too easy, Dylan thought to himself. Maybe I won't need Tony Soprano after all.
"No, no," the boy protested, trying to sound as sincere as possible. "You were right, Coach. I meant what I said -- I'm really sorry. You're the man in charge." He held out his right hand, and the coach reluctant shook it.
"Good!" said the principal, patting Dylan on the shoulder. "I'm glad you two could work things out. And Dylan?"
"Uh... Please do me a favor, and don't talk to any papers about this. Let's just let this situation die down. I've believe we've had just about enough publicity about this school for the month of October."
"You got it, Mr. Meyers."
They stood up and made their way to the door. Dylan let the coach exit first, then he hesitated and turned back to the principal.
"Mr. Meyers?" he called.
Dylan hesitated. "Is there any word on when Coach Wilson's gonna come back?"
The principal frowned. "I'm sorry, Dylan. We're not supposed to talk about it. There's already lawyers talking right now. Let's just say that it doesn't look very positive."
Dylan shook his head. "Yeah. I thought so." He closed the door behind him and left.
The principal took off his glasses and squeezed the bridge of his nose, then sighed. He knew Wilson was finished. He'd probably never work again, at least not in the state of California. Hell, Wilson was lucky that the Washington family's lawsuit was just against the LA school system, and not the coach himself.
He put his glasses back on, grabbed a stack of papers, and went back to work.
* * * * *
Dylan and the coach trudged silently down the hallway. At the turn-off to the south wing, Dylan began to make a left turn, but the coach touched his shoulder.
"Thanks for what you said back there, Callahan," he said quietly. "You know I only want what's best for the team."
Dylan shrugged his shoulders. "It was the truth, Coach. I really am sorry, man."
"Yeah. Anyway, see you at practice."
As the boy ran off down the hallway, the coach stared at him. Little asshole, he thought. He knew what the kid had done was just a performance.
Highland knew the type. Dylan Callahan was a loose cannon. No discipline. Goddamned rich kids... think they own the whole friggin' world. Fortunate sons, like the old '60s Creedence song.
I'll show the little son of a bitch, he thought, as he walked briskly across the campus to the gym building. That little shit will be sitting on the bench for the rest of the season. One foul-up -- just one -- and I'll not only kick him off the team, but get him suspended from school as well. He laughed at the thought, then continued into his office.
* * * * *
Much to the Chatsworth residents' eternal relief, the San Fernando Valley weather was finally cooling off. A gentle breeze blew in from the north. This part of the valley was known for its killer winds, caused by the proximity of the nearby Santa Susana Mountain range to the North, and the Pacific Ocean, just 10 miles to the South. The gusts could get up to 50 miles an hour in the winter and early spring, uprooting small trees and scattering trashcans down neighborhood streets. But late October was almost always fairly peaceful -- a welcome respite from the summer heat wave.
That afternoon, football practice at Chatsworth High went as expected. Half of the offensive players were lined up at the "torture tire" line, endlessly running drills back and forth as the coaches barked out their instructions.
Kyle was ecstatic at his friend's surprisingly-good fortune. "I knew you'd do it, man!" he said, affectionately punching Dylan's arm. "You think Highland totally bought your story?"
Dylan grinned. "Yeah. I think he was as sorry the whole thing happened as I was."
"He need any, ah, persuasion?" Kyle asked, in his faux-Italian Sopranos accent.
"I bet Dylan got on his knees for Highland," quipped Jordy from behind them.
Dylan and Kyle turned around. Team center Jordy Chandler was comically pantomiming a blow-job, pushing out his cheek from the inside with his tongue.
"Yeah, I hear he's a real maticone," laughed Bobby Guiterro, one of the fullbacks.
"Como mierde!" spat Kyle.
"Shaddup, you guys," said Dylan, laughing good-naturedly. "Me and Coach shook hands, and I promised not to be such an asshole if he'd keep me on the team."
"Not possible!" yelled Kyle, as he ran down the course. "You're a terminal asshole!"
"Quit talkin' and start movin', McDermott!" barked Coach Davis, the kicking coach. "You're up next, Callahan!"
Dylan shook his head and readied himself for the gauntlet. Just as he was about to move, a whistle blew behind him.
"That's it for today, gentlemen!" called out Coach Highland. "Give me 25 up-downs, and let's hit the showers. Back at 3:30 tomorrow."
As they jumped and dropped to the ground for the exercise, somebody poked Dylan in the shoulder.
"Psst! Hey, Callahan! You aren't gonna try any theatrics in Friday's game, are ya?" whispered Charlie Stephenson, who was just behind him.
"Swear to god, man," whispered Dylan, jumping back up and running in place as the coach yelled and blew his whistle again.
Charlie laughed. "It was still a cool play, dude."
"Gentlemen!" barked the coach. "All of you are now gonna give me 25 more up-downs, thanks to Mr. Callahan and Mr. Stephenson, who think this is a time for polite conversation! Now move it!"
All the players groaned and dropped back down to the ground.
* * * * *
The hot water felt fantastic. Between his arm and back workout yesterday, the early-morning run with Kyle, and football practice this afternoon, Dylan was thoroughly exhausted. He leaned against the wall and let the water cascade over his neck and shoulders, trickling down his back. Steam billowed out and filled the tile room, and several other players let out audible groans as they dealt with that day's bruises and tired muscles.
"Hey, Callahan!" yelled a voice behind him. It was Buck Johnson, one of the linebackers. "Lookin' good, man! You doin' that stack I told you about?"
"Yeah," he said, nodding. "It's workin'. Listen, tell your buddy Hank I need to get some more Deca." He did some quick math in his head. "I'm gonna need another box of twenty-four. That should last me at least two months, right?"
Johnson turned on the shower next to him. "Yeah. But that's big money, dude. I'll need seven hundred bucks, dead presidents, tomorrow."
"Not a problem," he replied. "I'll bring the cash to practice tomorrow." Dylan turned off the shower and grabbed his towel, then started to leave.
The large black teen stopped him. "Naw, man," he said quietly, looking around. "We gotta keep this on the down-low. I'll meet you at your car in the lot at noon, then we can pick the stuff up at my place tomorrow night. Highland's still sniffin' around here, makin' his speeches and shit."
Dylan rolled his eyes. Their new coach was known for being strictly old-school -- totally against drugs, trying to enforce a lotta stupid rules, and ignoring the way football was really played these days. Highland's got his fucking head in the sand, he thought. Wilson was always a lot cooler about this shit.
"Okay. Tomorrow at lunch."
"You got it."
Dylan got to his locker and started toweling off. He'd have to dip into his savings account to get the $700, but if he was lucky, his parents would never notice. And if he had to, he could always get a cash advance on the two credit cards he had.
"Don't forget, we're hittin' chest and tri's at the gym tomorrow night at 6:00, right after practice," replied Kyle, walking up alongside him.
He looked up and grinned. "You got it, man."
As Dylan pulled his gym bag out of his locker, a small piece of folded paper fell out onto the floor. He picked it up and opened it. It was written crudely but legibly in large block letters, in bright red ink:
I KNOW YOUR SECRET
YER A COCKSUCKER
DIE IN HELL, FAGGOTT!
The note was unsigned.
"Love-letter from Tracy?" quipped Kyle, as he pulled off his towel and began drying his legs and chest.
Dylan felt his face burn, then quickly crumpled the note and stuffed it in his pocket, then looked away.
"Naw," he said quickly, trying to recover. "Just a note to remind me about that history paper due Wednesday. It counts for a third of our grade, y'know."
Kyle nodded and continued to dry off, and began talking idly about the upcoming history test.
His words echoed away into the din of the locker room. This can't be happening, thought Dylan, desperately fighting the urge to panic. He started feeling dizzy, and put his hand up against the metal locker door to steady himself.
Dylan glanced around the room. Lionel Wilson was talking to Jordy, and several other second-stringers were walking in from the shower. He felt a sudden twinge when he saw Jordy's naked body a few feet away, water beading down the boy's muscular chest and arms. He looks a little like Angel, he thought.
Shit. I can't think like this. Not at school.
"Dude? You okay?"
He turned, and Kyle was now fully dressed, staring at him, an expression of concern on his face.
Dylan nodded and regained his composure. "Yeah. I'm just... I'm just thinkin' about a buncha shit."
"You still freaked-out about Latrelle? Man, that guy was so cool. I can't believe he's dead." Kyle shook his head sadly.
"Yeah. Me, too. Anyway, see ya tomorrow," he said, making his way for the door.
"6:45 at the park! And it's my turn for breakfast!" called out Kyle.
"You got it, dude."
Dylan rushed out to the parking lot, then tossed his notebook in the BMW's backseat and got in the driver's side and slammed the door. He felt for the paper in his pocket and stared at him again.
The words burned into his brain. He could see the words again on the front door back in Phoenix:
in thick red letters, two feet high.
He felt a chill run up his spine, and his hands began to sweat. What if somebody found out what had happened to him three years ago in Arizona? Maybe Corey had some relatives in town. Maybe Corey saw his name in the paper and got a friend to harass him. But who?
Dylan looked through the window. Students were laughing and talking as they strolled through the parking lot. Three large yellow school busses were parked on one of the side-streets, and a large crowd of students were busily pushing their way inside. It could be any of them, he thought.
He fought the urge to panic. It's nothing, he told himself. Just some stupid jerk fucking around with me.
Dylan crumpled the paper, shoved it back in his pocket, revved the engine, and quickly made his way home.
* * * * *
The night was cool and quiet. Crickets whined sharply in the distant trees, and the crescent moon was dim and distant. At 9:05, Dylan quietly walked from the house over to the barn, and saw the boy standing by the far right side. He was leaning against Borneo's stall, petting the horse's neck and gently feeding him sugar cubes from his hand. The room was dimly lit by a single bulb at the front, which cast a pale yellow light around the doorway.
"Dude!" he called out, closing the door behind him.
Angel ran up to Dylan and hugged him. They kissed hungrily, and Dylan felt his groin stirring.
"You really wanna do it in here, lil' dude?" Dylan asked, wearily. "I mean, it kinda stinks and stuff."
The boy grinned and nodded. "Yeah. I see whatcha mean. It does smell kinda funky." He wrinkled up his nose. "We just learned about the Augean Stables in English Lit. You ever hear about that?"
Dylan shook his head as he unbuttoned his shirt and lay it on a nearby post. "Some kinda ancient fable, right?"
"Yeah." Angel slipped off his T-shirt and hung it on a peg next to Dylan's. "It's from the Greek legends about Hercules. He had to work like a slave and clean this really fucked-up horse stable with like 800 years of shit in it!" He giggled again.
Dylan pulled off his pants and underwear, then turned. Angel looked more beautiful than ever, with the amber light hitting him just so, from the left. Dylan walked over to him and kissed him again, caressing his hand on the back of the boy's head and stroking his long black hair.
"Mmmmph," the boy said. "Lemme get my pants off, man. I'm really horny." He kicked off his shoes and tossed his pants on a nearby railing.
Dylan stared down at the boy's erection, which bounced as he walked towards him. "Yeah," he said, laughing. "I can see that."
The boy reached out and grabbed Dylan's groin.
"Ouch!" he cried out. "Be careful with that!"
Angel giggled. "Come with me, slave. You will do my bidding, over here in the royal pile of hay."
He led him across the barn to the very back, then pulled him down to a large pile of fresh hay, which was soft and smelled wonderful. They pressed their bodies together, and Dylan nuzzled his neck. Angel moaned with pleasure, then reached out and pinched the older boy's chest.
"Ooooof! What's this?" he said, looking down and laughing.
"You never pinched your tit during sex?" Angel asked, giggling. "It feels real good. Lemme show you."
He pushed Dylan back on the hayloft. Dylan he leaned back and put his hands behind his head as the boy moved his head down to his groin. His erection throbbed in time with his heart beat. Angel massaged it gently, then reached up with the other hand and lightly pinched Dylan's nipple. He immediately moaned with pleasure.
"Ohhhhhh, lil' dude... Yeah, I see whatcha mean," he whispered.
Angel stroked the boy's penis several times, amused by how it jumped and quivered with his every move.
"I know what you really need," he whispered. He quickly kissed Dylan on the mouth, then slurped his way downward, swirling his tongue in ever-widening circles, leaving a trail of wetness down his chest.
"Oh, christ..." moaned Dylan.
Angel let his tongue move to the teen's right nipple, then lightly flicked it back and forth. Suddenly, he leaned forward and suckled on it, hard. Dylan's face flushed with desire. He reached down towards the boy's groin and gave it a gentle stroke. Angel stirred and moaned, then looked up and grinned.
"Just lay back and enjoy it, man," he whispered. "I'll do all the work."
"Thanks, lil' dude. I love ya, man."
Angel grinned and nodded, then moved his face down to Dylan's stomach. He darted his tongue into the teen's belly-button, then followed the trail of hairs downward to his groin. In seconds, he reached his target, and Dylan immediately stirred.
"Oh, fuck..." he moaned.
As if in answer, Angel inhaled his full length, then reached up with both hands and tweaked his nipples -- first gently, then harder.
"Mmmmmmmmph," Dylan groaned. It was a curious combination of pleasure and pain, one he'd never experienced before.
The boy began to get into a rhythm, plunging his face up and down Dylan's full length. Dylan reached out and gently stroked Angel's long hair. The boy reached down with his right hand and lightly squeezed his balls, and Dylan immediately moaned in protest.
"Not... not too hard, lil' dude," he whispered. "I'm almost there, man."
The boy nodded and continued his onslaught. After another minute, his pace quickened, then he lifted both hands again and caressed Dylan's muscular chest. Angel's fingers caressed the thin sheen of sweat on his skin. Dylan felt his heart pound, and his hips began to thrust involuntarily.
Angel's head was almost a blur now, moving up and down like a jack-hammer, pounding on his groin like some kind of bizarre erotic machine. Dylan began to moan loudly, then felt the eruption begin deep inside him.
"Oh, god!" he moaned. "Angel... OH, GOD!"
Just as he exploded, the boy squeezed as hard as he could on his nipples. Dylan cried out loudly, then thrust his hips over and over again. Angel kept his face firmly attached to his groin for a few moments, then sank back down with Dylan to the floor, and rolled beside him on the hay.
"Shit..." panted Dylan, his heart still pounding. "Lil' dude... you shoulda warned me. That... that kinda hurt, man. I'm glad my folks aren't home tonight." He lightly touched his nipple and flinched.
The boy grinned and wiped off his mouth, then kissed him. "But I bet it also felt kinda good, didn't it?" he whispered, then giggled. "You ever heard that song, 'Hurt So Good'? I think that's what they were talkin' about."
Dylan nodded wanly and closed his eyes. I guess it did feel kind of good, he thought.
Angel stroked his chest, then rolled on top of him and kissed him deeply, letting his long hair fall onto his face. Dylan smiled and gently pushed the boy's hair back onto his shoulders, then parted it out Angel's bright green eyes and gently caressed his face.
"I really love ya, lil' dude," he whispered, then tenderly kissed the boy on his nose. "I'd do anything for you, Angel."
"Really?" the boy said, giggling. "Then suck my dick! The king commands it!"
Dylan gently lifted the boy up in the air as he stood up, then kissed him again. "Your wish is my command, sire. You wanna lie down?"
"No, slave," Angel said. "I'm gonna fuck you in the mouth. Kneel down before me!"
Oh-kay, thought Dylan, as he got down on his knees. I guess he wants to get kinda kinky tonight.
He tentatively opened his mouth, then almost choked as the boy forcefully slammed into him, slamming his erection almost to the back of his throat. Dylan choked and fell backwards, then coughed and sputtered several times.
"Dude! We don't have to be in so much of a hurry. C'mon, man!"
Angel looked dejected. "I just... I wanted to try somethin' different."
"Sure, lil' dude. Just start slow, 'kay?"
He sat up and leaned forward again. This time, Angel slipped himself in Dylan's mouth a little more gently, and began a slow in-and-out motion. Dylan slurped hungrily around the boy's stiff member, and took it in all the way to the base. He reached behind and gently gripped the boy's buttocks. Angel immediately moaned in response.
"That's it, slave," he whispered. "Now, spank my ass!"
What? Dylan thought. Okay, let's go for it.
He lightly spanked the boy, while Angel's thrusts increased in frequency.
Dylan continued to spank and slurp, trying desperately to fight his gag reflex.
He began briskly pounding the boy's buttocks, knowing that it must sting like hell.
Angel suddenly grabbed the back of his head and forced it forward, jamming his nose deep into his groin. Dylan began choking and tried to push him away, but Angel cried out and held firm. The boy's hips bucked once, twice, three times... and then they both fell back down to the hay, gasping for breath.
"ANGEL!" coughed Dylan. "You just about strangled me, lil' dude!"
Angel panted for a few seconds, then sat up. "Sorry 'bout that," he said, apologetically. "But it felt fuckin' great, man." He leaned forward and kissed Dylan passionately, pressing his tongue deeply across Dylan's lips. "I love you, man," he whispered. "That was really cool."
"Thanks, lil' dude. But please... can we, kinda... take it easy next time?"
The boy nodded. "Yeah, I guess."
Dylan looked at the boy curiously. "Where'd you get that idea?"
He shrugged his shoulders. "I saw some porno movies. Looked like somethin' cool to try." Angel stood up, then looked down at him and grinned. "When you wanna get together again?"
Dylan thought for a moment. Tuesday night he'd have his workout with Kyle. Wednesday he had to study for the History exam. Thursday, they were gonna have a late football practice, and Friday was the game. Shit.
"I'm sorry, lil' dude," he said apologetically, as he struggled up to his feet. "I think we're screwed until Saturday."
"Okay," nodded Angel, as he got up and walked across the barn to retrieve his clothes. "I'm cool anytime Saturday. You wanna see a movie or somethin'?"
Dylan stepped up beside him, pulled up his jeans and reached for his shirt. "Yeah," he said, then immediately winced. "Oh, wait -- shit, I gotta go out with Tracy Saturday night."
Angel rolled his eyes. "Why not just tell her you're gay, dude?"
"NO!" yelled Dylan. "JUST FUCKIN' SHUT UP, MAN!"
The boy cowered in fear, flinching as if Dylan was going to be beat him to a pulp any moment.
"Shit! I'm really sorry, Angel," Dylan said, as he walked over and embraced the younger boy, kissing his forehead. "Listen, I just... I got so much shit on my mind, I don't know what's goin' on with me today. And I'm really tired, y' know? I've been up since like six this morning, and it's fuckin' 9:45 already."
Angel nodded, but said nothing as he pulled his T-shirt over his head. "I gotta go," he said in a small voice. "Can I use your phone to call my mom at work?"
"Yeah," said Dylan. "Let's go into the house. The stupid phone out here in the barn never works."
They finished dressing and crossed the yard, then entered the house through a side door that led to the kitchen. On the granite countertop, the telephone answering device was blinking red.
"You want a drink, lil' dude?" called Dylan, as he opened the refrigerator.
"Yeah," replied Angel, as he sat down on a barstool. "You got any Coke?"
"No Coke -- Pepsi!" he replied, in a funny foreign voice.
Dylan pulled out a can from a stack and tossed it to the boy, who popped it open and immediately took a long swig.
"Sex and caffeine -- that's a great combination," Angel said, giggling as he wiped his mouth.
Dylan laughed. "Yeah. Lemme check the messages."
He pressed a button. Message one was his mother, reminding him that they'd be home by 10PM. Message two was a hang-up. He hit the button to play the last one.
"Message Three, on Monday, October 8th, at 9:21PM. Line One, no caller ID," chirped the device. Suddenly, a deep, mechanical-sounding voice came out of the speaker.
"This is a message for Dylan. I know you're a fuckin' faggot, man, and you should burn in hell. Everybody's gonna know about you at school, you fuckin' cocksucker whore! I bet you want to suck off everybody on the team in the shower, don't you, you fuckin' fudge-packer? I hope you get AIDS and die, faggot! Die, die, die!"
The machine beeped, then announced, "end of final message."
Dylan felt dizzy and clutched the wall for support. No, he thought. Please, god.
"What the fuck was that?" asked Angel, who was standing next to him, open-mouthed, staring at the phone.
Dylan walked over to the kitchen table and sat down, then put his face in his hands.
"I don't know," he whispered. "I don't know who it is."
Angel shook his head and walked over to him and put his hand on his shoulder. "Look at the clock," he said. "Whoever it was called just as we were... you know, out there in the barn."
Dylan was shaking. Tears welled up in his eyes, and he desperately fought to stop himself from breaking down and sobbing.
"Shit, lil' dude. I don't even know what this guy wants. He's just fuckin' with me. Look at this -- I got this note in my locker at school today."
He held out the crumpled piece of paper. Angel took it by one corner and examined it carefully.
"Nothin' special about the paper. No marks, no lines. You already touched it, so we can't get fingerprints."
Dylan eyed the boy suspiciously. "Who are you? Lieutenant Columbo?"
Angel laughed. "Naw. I just watch a lotta detective shows on TV. Hey, look at these letters."
He pointed to the text. "Looks like he used a red Sharpie. See? The lines are real thick. The guy doesn't know punctuation worth a shit, and he can't even spell 'faggot' or 'you're' right, with an apostrophe. Maybe he's foreign, or some kinda dumb jock."
He giggled, then stopped as he saw Dylan's face. "Sorry, man," he quickly added. "I just thought maybe that was a clue. What I meant was, the guy's not too good with spelling or grammar."
"Yeah," said Dylan, crumpling up the paper in his hand. "Listen, let me worry about it for now. You wanna use the phone to call your mom?"
"Yeah. Just take me a second." Angel grabbed the phone and quickly dialed the number.
Dylan walked across to the kitchen counter, hit a button, then played the message back again, at a low volume. He shuddered as the voice began.
Shit, he thought. Whoever he is, he's got a deep fucking voice. Either that, or he's using some kind of device to make him sound like that.
Dylan wracked his brain. It must be somebody at school, he reasoned. Maybe one of the players. Maybe even one of the coaches.
But it couldn't be Coach Highland, he mused. Can he still be that pissed-off at me?
Dylan shook his head, then hit another button on the device. "All messages erased," it obediently responded.
Nearby, Angel hung up the counter phone. "I'm done," he chirped. "Mom's comin' home early, so I'm gonna split. She thinks I'm at home, so I gotta run now."
"You want a ride, lil' dude?" asked Dylan.
"Naw. I got that cool Trek bike, remember? I can make it home in four minutes flat, if I take the secret short-cut." He grinned from ear to ear.
Dylan smiled and nodded. The boy stood on his toes and kissed him. Dylan reached out and stroked his long black hair.
"Thanks, man. See ya Saturday, right?"
"Yeah. Thanks, Dylan. Love ya."
With that, the boy turned and ran down the hallway and out the side door, which slammed shut behind him. Dylan walked to the living room and watched as the boy grabbed his bike from the side of the house, then rolled out the driveway and waved as he rolled down the street.
Dylan waved back, then trudged wearily down the hall and up the stairs to his room, then flopped on the bed. Who could want to hurt me like this? What if Mom or Dad had grabbed the phone? Or the maid?
His mind went back to Phoenix, and he remembered a hazy image of a frightened little 14 year-old boy, frantically trying to erase the horrible words off his front door. He could see the faces of Corey and his cronies, laughing at him. Die, faggot!
Suddenly, he began to weep, and rolled over into the pillow. I could lose everything, he thought, sobbing uncontrollably into the pillow. My whole life could be over. He lay there for several minutes, letting the cushion soak up with tears. In the distance, he thought he heard a door slam.
"Dylan?" called a voice from down the hall. "You awake, son?"
He quickly wiped off his face and sat up on the bed. His father stuck his head in the doorway and grinned.
"Hiya, kiddo. We just got home. How'd it go with the coach at school today?"
Dylan forced a smile on his face. "Great, Dad. Just like you said. We, uh... worked out a compromise."
The man smiled. "See? That's one negotiating tactic that can work as well in business as it does in life, son. Just be sure you compromise only as far as you can without losing any self-respect. Got it?"
Dylan was staring at the wall. He could still see the note, and the hideous phone voice echoed in his head. Die, faggot.
He looked up.
"Yeah, yeah, Dad -- compromise. Self-respect. I got it. I'm... I'm kinda tired. I'll see ya tomorrow, okay?"
"Alright. I'm glad it worked out for you. 'Night, son."
The door closed and Dylan reached over and turned off the light, plunging his bedroom into darkness. He rolled over on the bed and stared up at the ceiling. The reflected light from the backyard swimming pool cast glittery blue shapes onto the far wall. To the side, his clock-radio showed it was 10:07.
Self-respect, he thought ruefully. Yeah. I got plenty of that. After a few minutes, he drifted off to an uneasy sleep.