Max in the Middle
With the fall semester starting in two weeks, David was excited to get started on his college career. Freshmen weren't allow to have a car on campus, so Lloyd took David and all of his things down to the University. Max and his dad helped David lug everything up to his room in the dorm, and get him settled in.
They then went up to the Eyrie and joined Dave and Joe for dinner. After dinner they strolled through the campus to David's dorm, dropped him off and then went back up to their home on top of the Tower. Throughout the trip and whole evening Max had been strangely withdrawn. Lloyd figured he was being down because David was leaving home. He knew that Max idolized his older brother and figured that he would soon get over it. So he just let him be.
An hour in to their drive back home Max still hadn't said a word. Lloyd studied his son who slumped in the seat and stared out the window.
"You're awfully quiet, Son, are you feeling okay?"
"Yeah, Dad. I'm fine." Max mumbled without looking at his father.
"You might feel better if you talk about what ever is bothering you."
"I might." Max agreed but continued his silence as he stared out the window. Lloyd let the boy be, figuring he would talk when he was ready.
The trouble was that Max hadn't really identified and come to terms with whatever it was that had him down. Max was coming of age. His hormones were raging through his body. Not only was he maturing into a young adult he had a growth spurt that had sent his height up to five feet, eight inches. Max was discovering that with this new height girls were beginning to pay attention to him. He lay awake many a night wondering what was wrong with him. Why didn't he find them as attractive as they were finding him? Why was he getting a boner every time he looked at his best friend? Why was he unconsciously checking out all the guys in gym class?
School started and Max was even more depressed. He started avoiding his friends. The only time he felt better about himself was when he was in his room, his mind locked into a fantasy while he masturbated. Afterward he would fall back in to his funk, wondering what was wrong.
And then when Phil Boxner had walked past him, naked, in the dressing room and caught him staring at his big cock the truth had hit him right between the eyes. Max had started getting a boner. Phil was hung like a horse and liked to show off and then put down every guy that stared at his long dong.
"Keep your eyes to your self, faggot." Phil had muttered.
Tim had heard this guy call nearly everyone around him the same name. But he realized the truth at that moment. He was a faggot. Guys turned him on. Girls just had no attraction for him. Furiously blushing at realizing the truth, he hurried to get dressed and got out of the gym before any one else could notice him.
He stood blinking in the blinding September sunlight wondering what to do. The only one he felt he could talk to was his mom and she was still in California with Gary. David might be okay to talk to about this, but he was living in a dorm down at the University. The thought of talking to his dad scared him. Even though his dad had recently told Max and his brothers that being prejudice against gays was unacceptable, Max wasn't certain that his dad would accept his own son being a Queer. Sure his dad had made up with Uncle Dave, but.... UNCLE DAVE. He was the answer. He could talk to him. He was gay, too. He would be understanding and accepting.
The next afternoon Dave has his nose buried in one of the journals. Joe had to be at the building site into the late afternoon. The intercom chimed. Dave marked his place, closed the journal and answered the device.
"Mr. Gates, this is Will at the desk, there is a young man here asking to see his Uncle Dave. He says his name is Max Brown."
"Max? Good God! Send him up. Thanks, Will." Dave walked into the foyer to await Max's arrival. The door slid open to reveal a dirty tired- looking young man dragging his back pack.
"Hi, Uncle Dave."
"Max. What in the world are you doing here?"
"I didn't know where else to go. David lives in the dorms and I knew he wouldn't have a place for me to stay."
That didn't answer the question, but Dave let it be for the moment. There were more important things to take care of.
"I can see that you haven't had a bath for a while. When was the last time you ate?"
"I had a McMuffin and a milk this morning."
"Okay. Does you dad know you are here?"
"I left him a note, but I didn't say where I was going."
"I see. And when did you leave home?"
"Yesterday after school."
"Yesterday? Where did you spend the night?"
"In a truck stop. This trucker that gave me a ride to there, told me to stay and wait for his buddy who was coming through early this morning. So I got a ride with him."
Again Dave mentally shuddered again, and gave thanks that Max had made it safely.
"You have clean clothes in that bag?"
"You go into the guest room and take a bath and put on some clean clothes while I fix you some lunch."
As soon as Max was in the bathroom Dave called Lloyd.
"Lloyd it's Dave. Max just showed up on my doorstep."
"Thank God. I was just going to call you. I called Mary just a few minutes ago. I'll have to call her back. I have had everybody looking for him, even the state police. Is he okay?"
"He's fine. He was kinda dirty. He's in showering now. Look, call Mary back and the police and anyone else. And then call me as soon as you can talk."
"Thanks, Dave. Take care of my boy. Tell him no matter what, I love him." Lloyd had a difficult time talking and not crying at he same time.
"Will do. Call me as soon as you can. Bye." Dave hung up the phone and opened the fridge to get the makings for a sandwich.
A few minutes later as Dave set a sandwich and a glass of milk on the table Max walked into the kitchen barefooted. His hair was still wet. He was wearing a tank top and a pair of cut off jeans.
"I didn't know a shower could be so good."
"You look a heck of a lot better. Sit down and eat. Where'd you leave your dirty clothes?"
"In a pile on the bathroom floor."
"Soon as you finish, bring them in and toss them in the washer."
Dave sat down across from him.
"Max, I called your dad and let him know your safe."
"I was going to ask you to do that, Uncle Dave."
"Do you want to tell me why you ran away?'
Max studiously ate a bite of his sandwich. His ravenous appetite had suddenly disappeared.
"I didn't know who else to turn to, Uncle Dave." He finally said, staring at his plate.
"What are you talking about, Max?"
"You and Uncle Joe are the only gay people I know."
"Well, I'm gay too." He muttered. He'd dropped his hands into his lap. Tears dripped onto the plate in front of him.
That took Dave by surprise. It took him a moment to process.
"Oh, you are? How do you know that?" he finally asked.
"Uncle Dave, you of all people shouldn't have to ask me that." There was hurt and a bit of belligerence in his expression as he stare in disbelief at the one person he'd been sure would understand. Dave ignored the hurt for the moment. He could get back to it if need be.
"Me of all people definitely has to ask you that, Max. Just what makes you think you are gay?"
Tears coursed down his face as he stared at his uncle.
"Max, I'm not trying to be mean. I really want to know why you think you are gay."
"I don't like girls. Okay?" Max's voice was almost a yell. He looked down and whispered. "All I can think about is my best friend, and what I'd like to do with him. I think I'm in love with him." Max looked back up at his uncle. There was a note of desperation in his voice. "And I have a bad time in gym. Especially in the showers. It's so hard not to get a hard-on looking at the other guys."
"Well, that does sound like me when I was around your age."
"So what did you do about it, Uncle Dave?"
"Well, I wasn't as fortunate as you, Max. I didn't have any one to talk to about how I was feeling. I just hid it until I met Bill. I masturbated a lot, and had wet dreams about other boys, but I didn't do anything else until I met Bill. Do you remember him?"
"Yes, he used to come up to grand mom's with you. He was bigger than Uncle Joe."
"Well, Joe is just as tall, but Bill was a lot bigger around." Dave agreed. He thought for a moment. "I guess I was kind of different than other gay guys. I've always thought that sex was something special to share with the one person that's extra special in your life. Just like your mom and dad feel about each other."
Dave and Max spent the afternoon talking, with Dave explaining all the aspects of being gay. What not to do and how to be extra careful having sex. They went through all the STDs and how they can ruin one's life. He assured Max that no one could tell by looking at him that he was gay. And that as long as he controlled his urges he shouldn't have any problems with the other guys in school. By the time it was time for Joe to becoming home, Dave felt that Max had a pretty thorough understanding of what his future could hold for him.
Dave was considering what to have for dinner, when he remember that this was Thursday night. The night when David had a standing invitation to dinner. He explained it to Max.
"Max, does David have any idea that you might be gay?"
"No way, Uncle Dave."
"How are you going to explain why you are here?"
Max was silent for a while.
"I won't lie to him. So I guess I'll have to tell him the truth."
"Have you given any thought to what you're going to say to your dad when he calls back? He's definitely is going to want to speak to you. He told me to tell you that no matter what, he loves you, Max."
Max got real quiet. Dave let him alone with his thoughts and started puttering around in the kitchen. Max got up and wandered out. After a while Dave got curious as to where the boy had wandered off, and went looking for him. He wandered though the house calling for him and not getting an answer.
Dave walked out onto the patio calling louder. Still he got no response. He looked around the north side where the tent had been set up a few weeks earlier. Dave was beginning to panic. He ran around to the south side where the lap pool was. He saw Max floating face up in the pool. His eyes were closed. He wasn't moving.
"Max." Dave screamed as he surface dived into the pool. He grabbed Max around the neck and started hauling him to the edge before he realized Max was struggling and yelling at him. When it got through to his brain that Max was alive and kicking, he let him go.
"God, I thought you had drowned. You really scared me." He hugged Max.
"You scared me, too. I was just laying there thinking about how to tell dad. I didn't mean to scare you."
Dave let go of him. He still felt a little bit of hysteria. He wanted to laugh and cry with relief, all at the same time.
"I didn't mean to scare you either, Max.
Dave pulled himself up, sat on the edge of the pool and laid back.
"Damn, it's going to take me a bit to recover."
When he eventually calmed down. He sat up and lifted his feet out of the water.
"Well, at least I wasn't wearing my boots." He said as he shucked off his wet trainers. Without thinking about the fifteen year old boy standing there. He took off his plaid shirt and soggy Levi's. Dave was always bareback unless he was wearing slacks, then he would wear boxers. Max was enthralled. He couldn't unglue his eyes from Dave's magnificent body. Dave was wringing the water out of his clothes.
"Wow, you are a Greek god, Uncle Dave."
"You look just like the statues of the Greek gods I saw in an art history book.
"Oh m'god. I didn't think. Max don't you dare tell anyone you saw me naked. Damn your dad would kill me, thinking I'm perverting you."
He was trying to cover his nakedness with his wet clothes. He heard chuckling behind him. He whirled, exposing his naked butt to his young nephew. Max was taking it all in, not aware that the front of his pants were tented.
Joe was leaning against the wall laughing. He picked up a big towel from a pile that was always laying out by the pool.
"Cover yourself. What would Mary say if she knew you were showing Max what a grown man looks like?" He couldn't help but laugh some more at Dave's rueful expression.
Dave dropped his wet clothes and wrapped the towel around his waist. What Joe could see of his body was beet red.
" Max, what are you doing here, anyway?" Joe picked up another towel and tossed it at Max.
"Hi, Uncle Joe." He wrapped the big towel around his shoulders. Joe made no comment about Max 's state of excitement.
"I do think some kind of explanation is in order here. Dave, why were you in the pool fully clothed?"
"I thought Max had drowned. He was just floating there with out moving."
"Okay, Max, why were you just floating?"
"I was thinking about how to tell Dad I'm gay."
"You asked." Dave stated grinning at Joe's stunned expression.
"Hello. Uncle Dave? Uncle Joe? Any body home?" David called out from inside the house.
"We're outside, David." Joe yelled back.
David came around the corner and froze.
"What's going on? Max what are you doing here?"
"It looks like Max ran away from home. Dave thought he was drowning and jumped in the pool to save him." Joe chuckled.
"Joe you're not being funny." Dave muttered. "I'm going to go put on some dry clothes."
"Me too." Max said, following Dave. David grabbed his younger brother's arm as he passed.
"Not so fast, little bro." Max was almost as tall as David. "You haven't said why you are here."
Max pulled his arm from of his brother's grip.
"I'm not sure I want to tell you."
He proceeded to the guest bedroom, with David following on his heels.
"Does Dad know you're here?"
"Yeah, Uncle Dave called him and told him."
David closed the door as he followed Max into the bedroom. Max proceeded to rifle though his bag for clean clothes.
"Max does this have anything to do with someone being gay?" David's voice was soft and soothing much as one's voice would be talking to a skitterish colt.
"You talking about the Uncles?" Max was being flippant.
"No Max. I'm not talking about the Uncles."
Max sat down on the bed, looking defeated.
"You're talking about me, aren't you?"
David didn't answer.
"How can you tell?" Max looked up at him.
"I can't tell. I suspect from things you've said. But there is no way to tell by looking at you." David sat next to him and put an arm around his shoulder. "You look as normal as any other guy your age. Hey, you're my brother, we shared the same bedroom for all our lives. I know you almost as well as I know myself."
Max was enjoying the closeness with his big brother. David had always been his idol. The one he always emulated. He glanced up at him.
"Do you really believe that Dad has changed, that he doesn't hate people like Uncle Dave....and me?"
"I know for a fact that he's changed. Max, take my word on it, Little Bro." David said as he recalled the conversation he had over heard between his parents. "You don't have to fear telling Dad."
Joe followed Dave into their bedroom. As soon as the door was closed he grabbed Dave up, dumped him on the bed and leaped on top of him. Dave was still a little disgruntled about Joe making light of what had happened. He lay there not responding to Joe's advances.
"Come on Babe, look at it from my side. I walk out and see this ogle-eyed fifteen year old boy watching you strip. You were completely unaware of the effect you were having on him. I had to make light of it. He was standing there with this raging hardon, mesmerized by your fabulous bod. I didn't want to embarrass the kid. Their egos are so fragile at his age."
"Your right. I was just so shaken. I really thought he had drowned. He was laying spread eagle with only his face above water. He wasn't moving."
Dave shuddered as he relived the event. He wrapped Joe in a hard hug. Joe rolled to his side. He rubbed his hand over Dave's furry chest and down his belly. He fondled Dave's turgidity.
"Are you sure your not twenty years old? We don't have time to take care of this now, so you better get dressed. Let's take the boys out to dinner."
Dave couldn't help it, he just got excited when ever Joe touched him. He ignored the question.
"I don't understand why Lloyd hasn't called back. I'm going to call him as soon as I get dressed.
Lloyd sounded drugged when he answered the phone.
"It's Dave. I thought you were going to call back before now. We're worried. Are you okay?"
"Damn, what time is it?"
Dave could hear him making stretching noises.
"It's nearly seven."
"I'm sorry, Dave, after I called Mary, your mom and the police, I sat down for a moment. I guess I just relaxed knowing Max is safe. I fell asleep. I haven't been sleeping well with Mary gone and then not at all last night with Max disappearing. Is he doing okay?"
"I think he's going to be fine. David is in talking to him now."
"I'd like to talk with him."
"Lloyd, before I call him to the phone, you need to know he's a little fragile right now. He's finding out who and what he is, and he's running scared. Give him your love and reassurance. He needs that more than anything else right now."
"Dave, as I said before, I've made a grave mistake shunning you from our lives. My boys have missed much that you could have offered them. I am sorry that I wasn't man enough to face up to my self."
"Lloyd, it take a real man to admit what you did and to make amends. I love you fellow. Don't be so hard on yourself. Let me call your son."
Dave knocked on Max's door and entered.
"Max your Dad wants to talk to you."
He pointed at the phone on the bedside table.
"Come on, David, Max needs some privacy right now."
"Dad? I'm sorry, I shouldn't have run away."
"Are you okay, Son?"
"I'm alright. Uncle Dave has helped me a lot."
"Your Uncle Dave is a good man, Son, trust him."
"He didn't tell you why I came down here, did he?"
"No, Max. He wouldn't tell me anything unless you told him to do it."
"I'm sorry to be such a disappointment to you and Mom. I try to be a good as David. I guess I'll never measure up. He's so perfect."
"Max. We've never expected you to be like David. You're two different people. All we've ever ask of you is for you to be and do the best you can."
"But David is special because he's the oldest and Gary is special 'cause he is the baby. And I'm just stuck in between."
"Is that what is bothering you?"
Max didn't reply.
"Max, being in the middle is as special as being the youngest or oldest. You are as important to your mom and me as either of your two brothers. We love you just as much, and maybe a little bit more because you are extra special."
"I'm not even special. I'm just a big disappointment. And I know your going to hate me and kick me out of your house when you find out what I really am." Max had worked himself up forgetting for the moment all that Dave and his brother had just told him.
"Max? Son, listen to me. No matter what you tell me. No matter what you are. There is absolutely nothing that would cause me to hate you. You are my son, Max, and I love you very much."
"I don't want to be this way, Daddy. I want to be like you and David. I want to grow up and have kids of my own. But I'm gay, Daddy. I'm sorry."
Max was rolled into a fetal ball with the phone cuddled to his ear.
"Don't be sorry, little man. Be proud of what you are. Like I said, you are extra special and because of that Mom and I love you just a little bit extra. And I'm sure that if you want kids you'll find a way, Max. I want you to promise me something, Son."
Max hugged the phone to his ear. He wanted to believe his dad. He wanted it to all be true.
"Max, are you listening."
"Yeah, Dad, I'm here."
"I want you to promise to be the very best person you can be. Make me proud to say, "That's my son Max."
Max straighten out and lay flat on the bed.
"I'll do that, Dad. I'll be the best gay man I can be. Just like Uncle Dave."
"You couldn't have a better man to style your life after, little man. I love you son. I'll be down to pick you up tomorrow afternoon. Now. I want you to hang up this phone and go tell Dave to give you a big hug for me. Oh, and a big kiss on your forehead."
"Not like you give, Dad, they're so sloppy."Max giggled.
"I love you, Max."
"I love you, Dad."
"Don't you guys ever get tired of eating in the same restaurant all the time?" David asked.
They were sitting around the owners table at the back of Gio Gio's.
"What? And miss a free meal?" Joe's English accent was bad.
"It's not free. Gio just takes it out of your share of the profits." David pointed out.
Dave acted confused. He love pulling the wool over unsuspecting eyes.
"He does? And here I thought Gio was just being so generous."
Two beefy hands clamped down on Dave's shoulders.
"And what is the reason I should be generous to a table full of free loaders?" Gio had overheard the whole conversation.
Dave looked up at Gio and grinned.
"Because we're purty to look at?"
"Well, other than that?"
Joe raised his hand like an eager little boy.
"I know. I know."
Now he had everyone's attention.
"It's because we're sooo loveable. And. We love you Gio."
"Alright, enough. My boots are not so deep to keep out all this tall.... how do you say? BS. Yes?"
"Yes, it is BS, but you got the rest of it backwards it's tall boots and deep BS." Dave said.
"What ever." Gio said throwing up his hands. "English is a most difficult language. So what do you young men want for dinner?" He asked, looking at Max and David.
"I'll have a cheeseburger and fries." David said looking at the menu as if such a thing were listed on it.
"And I'd like a Hot Dog with everything on it." Max piped up joining in the fun.
Gio didn't even raise an eyebrow. He just nodded his head.
"And you Mr. Gates?"
"I would like to try the Chicken Florentine and a baby greens salad with your wonderful house dressing."
"Someone is learning how to make points with the chef. And you, my dear cousin?"
"What Dave's having. Especially some of the wonderful house dressing."
"One point for Dave, a half point for you. Coming right up, Gentlemen." Gio whirled and headed for the kitchen.
"Uncle Joe, we were joking. There aren't hamburgers and hot dogs on this menu." David whispered. Joe laughed.
"Knowing Gio the jokes going to be on you boys. Let's see what he concocts for you."
Gio sent one of his assistants down the street to the local hamburger joint for a deluxe Hamburger, a Hot Dog with the works and two orders of French Fries. When the man returned, Gio laid out the items on plates and decorated them as he would have one of his own dishes. The waiter served them along with the Chicken Florentine for Joe and Dave. Both boys looked at their plates in surprise. Gio had followed the waiter out to see their reactions. He grinned at their shocked faces.
"You didn't think I would serve you such fair?"
David recovered and looked up at Gio.
"Could we have some ketchup, please?"
"Of course, just one moment."
He returned with a Bottle of Heinz Catsup.
"From my own private reserve." He said presenting the bottle as one would a fine bottle of wine. David, suspicious of Gio, took the bottle, opened it and smelled of it. Gio grinned. David poured some on his plate and passed it to Max.
"You know, Gio," David said around a mouth full of burger. "this hamburger tastes just like the ones they serve down the street. And the fries are cut the same, too."
Gio threw up his hand in mock exasperation.
"Okay, you win. I didn't realize I was serving to a connoisseur of hamburgers. I thought to push a joke on you, I have never made one in my life."
They all had a good laugh as they tackled there meals.
David had parted ways with the others to go back to his dorm to study. Joe and Dave strolled along shoulder to shoulder, with Max lagging a little behind. They stepped into the elevator and turned to wait for Max to catch up. Dave put a comforting arm around his shoulder as they ascended.
When they entered to the eyrie, Max flopped down on the livingroom sofa with his hands stuffed in his pockets.
"Let's sit outside for a while and enjoy the balmy evening. There won't be many more before the fall chill sets in." Joe said. "Come on, Max, join us."
Max got up and shuffled out behind Joe.
" I'll be out in a minute." Dave yelled from inside the house.
A moment later he appeared carrying a guitar.
"I feel like singing a bit tonight." He said.
"Where did that come from. I didn't know you could sing."
"Remember what you said to me as you dragged me into your lair that first night? We have the rest of our lives to discover each other."
"You had to drag him into the bedroom, Uncle Joe?" Max's eyes were big with the wonder of imagining Joe doing such a thing.
"And he was kicking and screaming like a white woman about to be raped."
"I'll get you for that one, you golden eyed fox." Dave muttered.
Max giggled, he really enjoyed the banter between his uncles.
Dave winked at him as he sat down and started strumming and tuning his guitar.
"This is a song for both of you."
He ran through a few chords and started singing. His voice was a mellow tenor. Joe was transfixed by it. He sat forward listening to the words. Dave sang the first part to Max.
No matter what they tell us
No matter what they do
No matter what they teach us
What we believe is true.
No matter what they call us
How ever they attack
No matter where they take us
We'll find our own way back
I cant deny what I believe
I cant be what I'm not
I know I'll love forever
I know no matter what
If only tears were laughter
If only night was day
If only prayers were answered
We would hear God say:
"No matter what they tell you
No matter what they do
No matter what they teach you
What you believe is true
And I will keep you safe and strong
And sheltered from the storm
No matter where its' barren
Our dream is beating on
No matter where they follow
No matter where they lead
No matter how they judge us
I'll beat everyone if you need"
Dave turned to Joe and continued the song singing to him.
No matter if the sun don't shine
Or if the sky is blue
No matter what the ending
My life began with you
I can't deny what I believe
I can't be what I'm not
I know this love's forever
Now no matter what *
Joe stood up and lift Dave to his feet. He took the guitar and handed it to Max. He turned back and wrapped Dave in his arms.
"I love you forever, my love."
He pressed his lips to Dave's, who returned the kiss.
"Wow. You guys are totally awesome."
They broke the kiss and simultaneously turned to Max.
"Yes, we are. Aren't we?" Dave said. "That's what love does. It makes us awesome."
*Music by Andrew Lloyd Weber- Lyrics by Jim Steinman
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