Chapter 48: Fallout
The following fictional narrative involves sexually-explicit erotic events between men. If you shouldn't be reading this, don't.
In the world of this story, the characters don't always use condoms. In the real world, you should care enough about yourself and others to always practice safe sex.
The author retains all rights. No reproductions or links to other sites are allowed without the author's consent.
Thanks as always to Tom W., my patient, hardworking editor and occasional co-author. Thanks also to Mickey, Evan, Patrick, and Ash.
The first organizational meeting of the University baseball team with coaches, returning players, and hopefuls was held on a stormy afternoon in March. After the head coach was through, he suggested that they all either work out or run laps on the indoor track. "No point in being here if you don't at least work up a sweat. And I'll see you all at the practice field tomorrow, weather permitting. If not, back here. Three o'clock sharp."
Mark and Cedric ran laps, chatting from time to time, until they were both soaked with sweat and breathing became more difficult. In a brotherly competition, neither wanted to be the one to quit first. Finally, Cedric slowed to a walk.
"OK, Iron Man. You win! I'm gonna shower and go home to Tim."
"Give him a hug for me. I've got to see Coach for a minute before he gets away. See you tomorrow, Ced."
Cedric went to the showers, and Mark found the coach and asked his questions. They chatted for a few minutes. When Mark was about to leave, the coach asked him to wait.
"Mason, is it true that your buddy is gay?"
"By `my buddy' you mean Ced?"
"Well, Coach, I've got lots of friends."
"Does that mean more than one of them is gay?"
"Frankly, Coach, I don't think that's any of your business."
"It isn't unless they're on my baseball team. Of course I meant Jones. I don't care how many of your other friends are gay."
"OK. Now we know we're talking about Cedric. So what difference would his sexual orientation make at this point? You know what an asset he is to the team."
The coach held up his hands. "Slow down, son! I know you and Jones were roommates for three years and that you're pretty close. That's why we're having this talk."
"I still don't understand why we're having this talk."
Coach Brandt took a deep breath. "Look, Mark. I've managed to get you all prickly. Relax. I'm on your side. I just wanted to say that the word is out about Cedric. The guys all seem to know that he and that little English prof have been living together since last summer and that they have sort of come out recently."
"And most of the comments I've heard sound like the guys are OK with it. As they should be. But I want you to keep your ears open. If you hear anybody giving Jones a hard time, or if anybody says anything very negative to you, I want you to let me know."
Mark nodded. "Well, if I hear any homophobic comments, I'll set them straight, you can count on that."
"Look, Mark. I don't want this to cause dissention on the team. It's all right for you to defend your buddy. In fact, I would encourage you to. But I want you to let me know about anything that is likely to create problems that might interfere with the way the team functions. Can I count on you to do that?"
Mark grinned. "Sure, Coach. Sorry I was being testy a moment ago."
Clapping the younger man on the back, Coach Brandt said, "No problem. You should be loyal to your friends. Now, better hit the showers. You're a little rank."
* * *
Sylvia Horowitz picked up the phone and punched in a number. When the person on the other end answered, she said, "My God, Marybeth, he's done it again!"
"Hi, Syl. By `he' I assume you mean your neighbor across the hall."
"That's right. And you won't believe what happened."
"I might if you'd just tell me."
"Well, last night I heard something outside my door. When I looked through the peephole, there was this guy taking off his clothes."
Marybeth laughed. "That's a first. Was it Philip?"
"No. You know how those peepholes distort things. I couldn't tell a lot, of course. But this guy was an inch or two shorter than Philip, bigger in the shoulders, and had brown hair."
"Yeah, I know how hard it is to get a clear view through those peepholes. So what happened?"
"Like I said, he was taking off his clothes. He left on his shoes and socks, but everything else came off. He folded his things and laid them on the floor. Then he knocked on the door. When the perv came to the door, this guy sort of spreadeagled himself, hands straight out, legs apart."
"Delicious! Then what happened?"
"Best I could tell, Halifax pulled him inside and closed the door. Then a minute or two later, the door opened, Halifax grabbed the guy's clothes, and then shut the door again."
"You say this guy was not quite as tall or as thin as Philip and had brown hair?"
"Yeah. Of course you realize I didn't get a clear look. Oh, and he had a small tat on his right cheek. I couldn't make out what it was."
"So, Syl, it definitely wasn't Philip's boyfriend, Geoff."
"Have you ever seen him around this building before?"
"No, but I didn't see his face, and, of course, he was bare-ass when I saw him. Great ass, by the way. What a shame to waste it on another guy."
"Tell me about it. I know they say you can't `turn' a gay guy, but I'd sure like a chance to straighten Geoff out."
"Yeah, Beth, he's gorgeous."
Marybeth sighed. "Yes, well, thanks, Syl, for the info. Oh, by the way, did you see the guy leave Phil's place?"
"I thought you'd never ask! He left about a half an hour after Philip did this morning, but I still didn't get a look at his face."
"Oh, he's a stud. I'm pretty sure he's the one I saw in a lip-lock with your randy neighbor recently in the parking lot."
"I thought he might be, but with Halifax, you never know who's going to be spending the night."
"Yeah, the bastard. Gotta get to class, Syl. Thanks for the info."
"Anytime. See ya."
* * *
That evening Geoff and Philip met for dinner at the Olive Garden. It was late-ish when they got there, and the family crowd had gone home, so they were able to get a booth away from other diners. The plan was that they would go back to Philip's place for the night.
Philip ordered a beer, and Geoff, thinking nostalgically back to an evening he'd spent with Trey the previous summer, ordered red wine. They agreed to share an order of the hot artichoke dip and toasted pita chips.
Geoff was thinking of that evening when he'd come out to Trey and how understanding Trey had been. He was thinking of how much had happened since, especially about how secure he'd felt having a guy he thought really cared about him. He and Philip had been spending several nights a week together, and the sex was incredible, better than he'd ever dreamed possible. And Philip often came to Nighttown, where the trio played, keeping him company on the way there and back, often driving his car so Geoff could doze on the way home if he was exhausted.
Philip noticed that Geoff seemed preoccupied. `Shit! He can't know about Hook being there last night. Can he?' He decided to carry on as usual, pretending that everything was all right.
They chatted about this and that. Geoff told him the trio was going to work on some new arrangements he'd made at its rehearsal the next afternoon in Berea. Philip reminded Geoff that there was an SGA meeting on Wednesday night. Then he ran over some ideas he had for his next column and asked Geoff's opinion. Geoff had some useful ideas, so Philip reached into a pocket of his parka, which he'd thrown on the seat beside him, and pulled out a small pad and a pen. He scribbled for a minute or so, and replaced them.
Geoff smiled. "With all the electronic gadgets available these days, using a writing pad and a pen is pretty retro. Is that just an affectation?"
Philip, relieved to see Geoff smiling, said, "Maybe. It seems more in keeping with my ideal of a journalist."
"Such a romantic! You have an old-fashioned notion of what journalists do, I think."
Philip grinned and reached for another pita chip. "Yeah, G, maybe I do."
After the young female server, obviously a university student, had brought another beer for Philip and another glass of red for Geoff, she promised to be right back with their entrees. And she was.
When she had gone, Geoff took a deep breath, rubbed his palms on his thighs, and said, "OK. Now she won't be back for a while. I don't know how to lead up to this, so I'm just going to say it."
'Fuck! He does know!' Philip thought.
"You had a guy all night in your apartment last night. And he was in the hall naked before he knocked on your door? Can that be true?"
At that moment Philip would have gladly throttled Sylvia. He knew how nosy she was, and he had figured out that Syl was telling the woman upstairs, Geoff's friend, what went on at his place.
"Geoffie, it hurts me that you're having people spy on me, babe."
"Oh, crap, Philip! I have never asked anyone to spy on you! But some of the people who live in your building are pretty much aware of what goes on there. And, face it, you've got a reputation for having a stream of guys in and out. But I thought all of that had ended since we got together."
Geoff took a swallow of his wine. As he set his glass down, Philip reached across the table and put his hand on Geoff's.
"It has ended, G. Really."
Geoff pulled his hand away. "What about the guy you were kissing in the parking lot the other day? I told you if that happened again, we'd be through. Was this the same guy? Not that it matters. Just tell me if what I heard about last night was true. Was there a naked guy in the hallway? Did he spend the night?"
"Yeah, but you don't understand. I didn't invite Hook. I told him that morning in the parking lot there'd be no repeats, that I was in a relationship."
"I'm told you seemed pretty eager to get your hands on him when he knocked on your door last night, that you literally yanked him inside."
"Geoff, think about it, man! He was naked in the hallway. I know how nosy that bitch across the hall is, and I didn't want her or anybody else to see a naked guy at my door. So, yeah, I pulled him inside, but it was only to get him out of the hall."
Geoff thought about that for a moment. "Then why didn't you just tell him to get dressed and get the fuck out of there?"
"Well, it's a long story . . . "
"I'll just bet it is. Like I said the last time, you don't seem capable of saying `no.'"
"G, you don't understand, babe."
Geoff pulled his wallet out of his hip pocket. He sighed. "Yeah, you're right. I don't. You know, Philip, I thought I loved you. Maybe I do still love you. I'll always be grateful to you for showing me all about sex, for being such a good teacher. For being gentle and patient with me. That was wonderful! You gave me what I had needed and longed for all my life. You'll always be special to me." "But," he continued, "I can't trust you. I'm not sure you're capable of being faithful to just one guy. It sure looks like you can't be faithful to me. And I can't take that. I don't think any relationship can take that if it's going to survive. So I guess we shouldn't see each other anymore."
Tears streaming down his cheeks, he took some bills out of his wallet and put them on the table. His plate of chicken marsala was untouched. He grabbed his coat and left.
"Geoff, baby, wait!"
Geoff didn't wait.
`Halifax, you stupid fucker, you've screwed up for sure this time,' he said to himself. He called for his check, paid it, and left, his fettuccini alfredo only half eaten.
Back in his apartment, Philip felt as if there were a lump of lead in his stomach. It wasn't the alfredo. It was the result of his awareness that he had probably lost Geoff. And he knew now that he truly loved Geoff. Now he felt flat, empty. And incredibly stupid. To have risked ruining what he had with Geoff because he had a cute guy like Hook coming on to him was immature, egotistical, and weak. He'd never lacked for self-assurance – until now. He poured himself some JD on the rocks and sipped it as he wondered what he could possibly do to get Geoff back. His vision was blurred by the tears in his eyes.
* * *
Mark, Lori, Steve, and Rebecca were having burgers, fries, and beer at Noplace. Mark had just been telling them about his conversation with Coach Brandt earlier that day.
"Baseball season's starting already," Rebecca said. "This year is really flying by. It will be over before we know it."
"That makes me very sad," Lori commented. Mark put his arm around her shoulders and they leaned their heads together.
"Me, too, Liebling," Mark said.
"Why is that, Lori?" Steve asked.
"Because I must go back to Germany. My parents are coming here for the commencement, but they insist that I come home with them. They say I have been away long enough."
"You're an American History major, right?" Steve asked.
"What can you do with that back in Germany?"
"Hardly anything. I could teach if I had a graduate degree. My folks want me to take graduate studies at a German university next year."
"Lori," Rebecca said, "I don't want to disparage your universities, but wouldn't it make more sense to study American History here?"
Lori smiled. "In theory, yes. But we have many excellent uni's in Germany. It's not the quality of the graduate programs that makes me sad," she said, looking at Mark.
"I wish she could enroll in Yale's grad program," Mark said, "but her parents just won't hear of it."
"So you two will be separated next year?"
"Yeah, dammit!" Mark exclaimed.
Lori smiled. "But Mark is coming to Germany to see me this summer. At least we'll have that month!"
Mark grinned and gave her a squeeze. "What about you two? What are your summer plans?"
Rebecca looked at Steve and said, "I've got a job teaching English and reading to inner city kids in Erie."
"Isn't that wonderful?" Lori asked.
Steve grinned. "Yeah, I'm pretty proud of her."
"What about you, Steve?" Mark asked.
"Well, since I began my nursing major, I've been scrambling to catch up. I'm going to be right here all summer taking courses."
"Well, Steve," Mark said, "Erie's not that far away. You two should be able to get together on weekends."
"Yeah, I'm hoping Becca will come see me pretty often." He grinned at her.
"But Mark, why can't you go to Erie for weekends with Rebecca?" Lori asked.
Rebecca chuckled. "Shall I tell them your problem, Steven?"
"Metz, you're blushing!" Mark exclaimed, chuckling.
"Yeah. He's embarrassed about doing the dirty with me under my parents' roof."
Lori grinned. "But I thought that's where you did it the first time."
"It was, Lori," Steve said. He took a gulp of beer. "But, you see, it's like this. When we did it that first time, I didn't instigate it. It was a surprise. And we were very quiet. I just feel awkward, really awkward, about showing up for weekends and having them know very well that I'm, uh, making love to their daughter every night."
"Every night, huh?" Lori said. "I'm impressed."
"Well, Suesse," Mark said, grinning, "that's only two nights a week if they're only together on weekends. We manage more than that."
Lori slapped his hand. "You're telling secrets. I think perhaps we should change the subject."
* * *
Hook often ate lunch at the Union cafeteria, not because he particularly liked the food there, but because he knew Philip Halifax occasionally lunched there. He'd been rebuffed twice by his idol, but each time it was after they'd had sex. He thought persistence might pay off. And, since Philip had initiated him into the pleasures of anal sex, he'd had this craving. He wanted more. He'd gone to his room and sucked on his middle finger and stuck it up his ass. He bought some lube at the drug store and that evening lubed up first one finger, then two, then three, and shoved them all up his ass. It wasn't as good as having Philip's nice cock there, but it satisfied the itch. Temporarily.
He wasn't paying any attention to the stew and cornbread he was eating. He was thinking about having a cock up his ass. Thus he was startled when a guy set his tray down next to him and began to talk.
"Hi, I'm Em Cates. I see you around the jock dorm, don't I?" He offered his hand.
"Er, yeah. Hi. I'm Ethan van Hoek, but everybody just calls me Hook."
Emerson held onto Hook's hand just a little longer than guys usually did. "Hey, haven't I seen you at SGA meetings?"
Hook brightened. "Yeah. You go to those, too?"
Emerson grinned. "Just started going to them recently."
"They do a great job of making people like us feel comfortable on campus. Uh, sorry, I just assumed . . . Maybe you aren't gay?"
Cates grinned again. "Relax, bro. I'm gay. But I gotta tell you, I didn't start coming to SGA for the programs. I thought it would be a place to meet another gay guy."
"No! A great looking dude like you is scouting around? I wouldn't think you'd have any trouble finding someone. Hey, I know where I've seen you! You're on the swim team!"
"Yeah, I swim. You're tennis, right?"
"Well, let me tell you something. I don't have any trouble getting chicks. But I'm not bi. I want me a man. I made the mistake of coming on to a brother that I know is gay, but he turned me down because he's got him a man."
"Tell me about it!" Hook said, looking sad.
"You've had that experience?"
"Oh, yeah. I've been following Halifax himself around like a puppy. Managed to get him into bed a couple of times, but he says he isn't interested. He's got a guy, too."
"Yeah, I know his partner. Geoff Benton. Was our best diver until he graduated last year. I heard he and Halifax were together."
"I guess they are. Philip doesn't want anything to do with me. Oh, I think he's happy to have me help him before and after SGA meetings, but he isn't interested in me as a sex partner."
Hook finished his stew, picked up the last piece of cornbread, and wiped it around his plate, sopping up gravy.
Emerson took a swallow of his coffee and looked sideways at Hook. "Man, seems like you and I both got the same problem."
"Yeah," Hook said, grinning sheepishly, "I guess we do. Sucks, doesn't it?"
"Well, what I'm thinking, is maybe we could help each other out. You are one fine-looking white boy."
Hook looked appraisingly at Emerson. He'd been so mesmerized by Philip Halifax for the last month that he had quit looking at other guys in that way. What he saw made his groin tingle. Cates was six feet tall, light skinned, blue eyed, with brown hair. He was obviously the product of parents who weren't of the same race. And he was beautiful!
The tingle in Hook's groin turned into movement. His dick began to extend further down the right leg of his jeans. He put a hand down there to adjust it. Cates saw what he was doing, pointedly looked at Hook's lap, and grinned.
"You got any classes coming up right away?"
"No, I was going back to my room and study."
"Got a roommate?"
"Yeah, but he won't be back until 9:00 tonight."
"Like to have a study partner?"
Hook stood, picked up his tray to take it to the return window, and, looking over his shoulder, said, "Well, come on, what are you waiting for?" That itch in his ass had become very intense.
Back at the suite Hook shared with his roommate, as soon as he and Cates were inside and had closed the door, Hook grabbed Em, put his arms around him, and began to kiss him.
"Whooee," Emerson said when they came up for air, "You don't waste any time, do you?"
Hook grinned. "I thought you wanted to come here and have sex with me."
"I do, boy, I do. You just look so, I dunno, innocent, I guess."
"Well, I haven't had all that much experience. Philip fucked me twice. That's been about it. So I have a lot of catching up to do." He grabbed the bottom of Em's sweater and pulled it over his head. Then he stuck his hands up under Em's tee and began rubbing his nipples.
"Slow down, boy. If your roomie won't be home until after supper, we've got all afternoon. Let's have us some fun. And let's take it nice and slow."
Hook took a deep breath and began to take off his flannel shirt. "Look, Cates, you're the one with the experience. Or at least I suppose you are. So you set the pace. But don't go too slow. I need you to fuck me!"
"Damn, Hook, you really been needin' a man, ain't you?"
Pulling off his Nikes, Hook grunted and said, "Damn straight!" Then he dropped his jeans, stepped out of them, and stood there in his jockeys and white socks. His boner made a big tent in the briefs, and there was a wet spot where the end of his cock touched the cotton fabric.
Emerson slowly removed his tee while Hook watched, licking his lips. After he toed off his sneaks, he dropped his jeans. He, too, was tenting his briefs, but his were black and, if there was a spot there, it wasn't noticeable. The two stood there looking each other up and down for a moment. Then Cates knelt in front of Hook and began to suck on his dick through the stretched fabric.
Soon Hook had his head back, moaning with pleasure, and the fabric of his jockeys was transparent from Em's saliva. Cates then stood up and began to play with Hook's nipples as he leaned forward. Hook's mouth was already open, so Em just stuck his tongue in it and began exploring. Hook made a kind of gurgling sound and then began to respond, playing with Em's dark tits and sucking on Em's tongue.
After several minutes of that, Emerson pushed Hook away from him, grinned at him, and said, "You got a bed somewhere?" All this time they had been standing in the living room of the suite.
"Bed, yeah, uh, that's in here." He grabbed the elastic of Emerson's briefs and pulled him into a bedroom. He pulled him to the bed. Then, falling back onto the bed, he pulled Emerson down on top of him. The two began to kiss again and hump their dicks against each others' belly.
"Wait a minute, dude. Let me get out of these." Cates pulled off his briefs and dropped them on the floor. "Now," he said, grinning down at the guy beneath him, "where were we?"
Hook wrapped his arms around Emerson's neck and began to kiss him again. "Mmmmm," he groaned. Still kissing, they began to hump bellies again.
This was hot. Incredibly sexy. But Hook knew what he wanted. Putting a hand on either side of Em's face, he pushed him up just a little.
"Dude, you gotta fuck me. I need that big thing of yours up my ass. Please?"
"Mister van Hoek, it will be a pleasure to stuff that nice white ass of yours! I've got a rubber in my wallet. You got any lube?"
"Don't bother with your wallet. There's condoms and lube in that drawer!"
"How you want to do this?"
Hook giggled. "Well, the general idea is that you shove that thing in my hole."
Em grinned and said, "Don't get smart with me, white boy. I mean, what position?"
"I'd like to do it doggy style. This time."
"Sounds like you think I'll want that ass again."
"Oh, man, I hope so."
Cates was beginning to think he had a real needy bottom boy on his hands. And that wasn't so bad!
"That ass better be clean, boy!"
"I stuck a soapy finger up it when I had my shower, just before I went to the Union."
Hook assumed the position, head down on a pillow, ass in the air.
Em got on his knees behind Hook and, putting a hand on each cheek, spread them. "Cute rosebud," he murmured, as if to himself. Not wasting any time, he began to rub the tip of his tongue up and down over the other man's pinkish brown pucker. It was clean, as Hook had promised. Soon he had Hook moaning into the pillow. When he began to probe the hole with his tongue, Hook raised his head off the pillow and groaned, "Oh god, oh god, that's so good! Deeper. Please go deeper!"
The tongue is only so long. Cates did the best he could, but still the other man pleaded for more penetration. So, Emerson got back up on his knees. He lubed up his fingers, and began to probe Hook's chute with them. Still he was begged for more.
He took the precum that was sliding down his cock and spread it all over. Then he rolled on a condom, which he covered with Hook's lube.
"Now, boy, maybe this will shut you up. Nobody's ever complained it wasn't long enough or big enough!" He put the tip against Hook's pucker and pushed, not too gently. It was as if his big cock were sucked in. Both men gasped.
"Yessss! Now, Cates, FUCK ME! Show me what you can do with that thing!"
On his knees, Hook was able to rock back to meet the thrusts. Soon both men were growling their pleasure as Cates banged away. No matter how hard or fast Em pumped his steel rod into the other man, Hook kept saying, "Yeah, oh god yes, do it harder! Fuck me deeper! Yeah, that's the way, I need more!"
At first Hook was alternately grabbing the headboard and putting his arms at his sides and then putting them on Emerson's hips or his nipples. But then his body went rigid.
Emerson knew what was about to happen. He very quickly pulled out and flipped Hook over, so that he sprayed his cum all over himself. There were big globs of thick white jizz from his chin to his navel. Em then pulled off the condom, dropped it on the floor, and gave his cock a pump or two. That was all it took. He sprayed his own cum over Hook's body.
"Why did you do that?" Hook asked. "Just like in a porn flick. I thought you'd come in the rubber, inside me."
Em grinned down at him. "Here's why! He leaned down and licked up all of the white semen puddled on Hook's chin, chest, and abs. He swallowed some of it, probably because he couldn't hold all of it in his mouth. Then he kissed Hook, allowing him to taste the mixture of their jizz. They swapped it back and forth for a while before either of them swallowed. Then Em collapsed onto the bed beside Hook. "Man," Em said, "I love cum! Can't get enough. And those big balls of yours really are cum factories. You and I are going to get along just fine, boy, just fine." They held each other for a while, and both went to sleep.
When they woke up, because Hook pleaded, they did it again. Then they showered together. As they were dressing, Hook said, "Emerson, you're something else! That was fantastic. Can we do it again soon?"
Cates grinned. "Oh yeah. You know, my roommate moved out at the end of first semester, so we can use my place next time."
"Hey, that would be great. I've got to get the smell of cum out of here before my roommate gets home. When can we get together?"
They compared schedules and decided that Hook would spend the next evening with Emerson in his suite two floors up.
* * *
Cedric and Tim were sitting in the living room reading and listening to a Bill Evans cd Ced had bought recently. The phone rang. Tim started to put his book down, but Cedric said, "That's OK, babe. I got it."
He answered the phone as he and Tim had been doing since they came out: "Hello. Tim and Cedric's residence." Pause. "Yeah, this is Ced."
He listened for a while. Then he put down the handset, reached for a pencil, and jotted something down on the pad by the phone.
"Short conversation," Tim said, reopening his book.
Cedric went over and sat where he had been before. Instead of picking up his book, he looked at Tim. "It's started, babe."
"Well, we wondered what would happen when pre-season practice began. You know, about me being gay."
"Oh, shit! What happened?"
"That was some guy who said he was a teammate. He said he and the rest of the team expected me to drop out. Said they `didn't want a faggot on the team.'"
Tim took off his glasses, put down the book, and went to Ced, who pulled him down onto his lap.
"Did you get their number?"
Ced grinned. "Sure did. That's why we have Caller ID, isn't it, so we can deal with unwanted calls?"
"So what are we going to do now?"
"Nothing yet. We'll just block calls coming in from that number. That may take care of the whole problem. If it doesn't, then we'll have to figure out what else to do. Meanwhile, I'm going to see if I can get a look at Coach Brandt's team roster. It will have phone numbers on it, and I can see if this call really came from one of the guys on the team."
"Ced, I'm worried. I think we should go after this bastard. And I want you to promise me to be careful. Watch your back. Try not to be caught anywhere alone, day or night."
"Aren't you being a little melodramatic, babe?"
"Perhaps. But you're pretty well known on campus. An easy target. Do you mind if I call Coach Brandt tomorrow?"
"Yeah, I wish you wouldn't do that. Let me talk to Mark. Maybe he's heard some of the guys muttering. I'd like to take care of this `unofficially' if possible."
"Well, if you promise to talk to Mark, OK. But if you get anything else like this, we're going to go through channels and get this stopped."
Ced grinned. "Yes, daddy." Then he pulled his partner into a long kiss.
The next day had better weather, and the team worked out on the baseball practice fields. Back in the locker room, Cedric sat down on a bench next to Mark.
"Hey, Ced, how are you doing, guy?"
Ced grinned. "Hey, bro. I'm OK. How are you and your sexy lady?"
"We're both great. When are we going to see you and Tim?"
"We'll have to get together soon."
"I got a phone call last night."
"Uh huh. Guy said he was a member of the team, and they didn't want any faggots on the team."
"Shit! I was hoping nothing like that would happen. Do you have any idea who it was?"
"No, but I have the stupid bastard's phone number."
"That's right, you and Tim have Caller ID, don't you?"
"Yeah. So if the guy wasn't calling from a phone booth or something, we may be able to find out who it was."
"I'd like to get my hands on the bastard!"
"Whoa, Markie. I don't want to beat him up. But I would like to know who it is."
"I think maybe we can do that. You know, Ced, yesterday after practice Coach Brandt told me he wanted to know if there was any trouble about your coming out. Said I was to come to him right away if there was."
"Yeah. He doesn't seem to care if you're gay. He just doesn't want any dissension on the team." Mark paused. "You know, I'll bet if we took that phone number to him, he'd tell us whether it goes with somebody on the roster."
Cedric grinned. "It's worth a try."
The two friends went to the coach's office. The door was standing open, so Mark knocked on the doorframe.
"Come in, guys. What can I do for you?"
"Well, Coach, you said to let you know if there was a problem about, well, uh . . ."
"Come on Mark, you can say it. About me being gay."
"I got a phone call from some guy who claimed he was a member of the team. He told me I wasn't wanted on the team because I was a `faggot.'"
"Shit! Pardon my French. That's just what I didn't want to happen. Do you have any idea who it was?"
"Well, I think I know how we may be able to find out. You have phone numbers for all the guys on the team, right?"
"Well, I know the number of the phone the guy called from. Of course, if he was smart, he was using a pay phone. But it would be worth checking." Ced handed the coach a slip of paper. "Would you mind checking this number against your list?"
"Sure, hang on a minute." Coach Brandt grabbed a clip board from his littered desk and began to look at a roster. "I'll be damned. It's here. Somebody was really stupid."
"Or pretty brazen," Mark observed. "If he called from his own number, he must have been pretty sure of himself."
"Either way, I'm going to have a talk with him."
"Who is it, coach?"
"You'll find out in due time, Jones. I'm going to deal with that young man myself. But I think you can expect an apology tomorrow. Or we'll be short one pitcher for a while."
Cedric and Mark thanked the coach and headed for the showers.
"Pitcher, huh?" Mark said.
"That's what he said. Any idea which one?"
"Oh, yeah. If it isn't Kyle Mullens I'll be very surprised."
"Well, the coach said we'd know tomorrow."
As the players were getting ready to hit the showers after practice the next day, Coach Brandt said, "Jones and Mullens, in my office, now!"
Brandt had some things he needed to talk about with the other coaches, so Cedric and Kyle got there first.
"Cedric," Kyle said, extending his hand, "Coach found out about that phone call. And, man, he reamed me a new asshole! I guess I deserved it. I'm sorry."
Cedric didn't take the proffered hand. "What did Coach say that changed your attitude overnight?"
"Oh, it was a long session, and pretty fuckin' intense. But he asked me if I hadn't always admired you as a ballplayer, and I had to admit I had. Then he asked if you had ever been anything but decent to me, and I said that I had always liked you until I found out . . . uh . . . "
"That I am a fag."
"Well, I'll not be using that word again, for sure. So, anyway, he asked if you had ever come on to me or any of the guys on the team, so far as I knew, and I said no."
By this time they had sat in the two chairs facing the coach's desk. Ced waited for Kyle to continue.
"Then he asked if it was anybody's business what I did in my bedroom, and I said it sure as hell wasn't."
Ced grinned. "And then he said . . ."
"He said what you did in the bedroom sure as hell wasn't any of mine. And he had me. He was right."
"But Ced, all my life I've heard about what a sin homosexuality is, how sick and perverted it is. I've heard that from Carl, my big brother, from my dad and my uncles and from the preacher at our church. So I guess when I heard about you being, uh, gay, it was like being hit by a ton of bricks. I just couldn't believe a guy like you could be gay. I couldn't believe that there'd be a gay guy on our team. I don't know what came over me, man, when I called you. I guess I was just having some kind of knee-jerk reaction, not really thinking at all, you know?"
"Yeah, I know."
"So, like I said, I was way out of line. And I apologize. OK?"
Ced stood, so Kyle did, too. Then Ced offered his hand.
As they were shaking hands, the coach walked in. "Well, it looks as if you two have things straightened away."
"Yeah, Coach," Cedric said, "Kyle and I are cool."
"OK, good! You know, Jones, it would have been a lot better for me if you had just stayed in the closet. But I have to admire you for coming out. My problem now is to see that this team functions like a well-oiled machine, and I don't want any more problems. You two both got that?"
Both guys nodded. "Now," the coach continued, "there's something I want you both to do. I've already told Mason this, and he's going to help. If either one of you hear any kind of anti-gay talk, you let me know. Don't protect your buddies, Mullens, or you'll be up the creek. We're just not going to tolerate that sort of shit on this team. I want to hear about anything at all of that nature. Got that?"
"Yeah, coach," they answered in unison.
"OK, then get your funky asses out of here and hit the showers."
To be continued.