SUMMARY: Past, present and future are mixed together and served up in this loose retelling of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. You can find a longer synopsis of the entire story here. Please note that italics are typically used within the story to indicate what a character is thinking or saying to himself.
WARNING: This story is a work of adult fiction and intended for mature audiences only. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. The story may describe, depict or otherwise include graphic portrayals of relationships between men and/or adolescent boys that are homosexual in nature. If you do not like or approve of such discussions or it is illegal for you to read such material, please take note and consider yourself warned. If you continue to read this story, you are asserting that you are fully capable of understanding and legally consenting to reading a work of adult fiction.
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AUTHOR NOTES: This is my holiday gift to you. It's undoubtedly been done before and better, but every generation of writers has a new take on the tale and this is mine. I hope it will haunt your house as pleasantly as the original. As Dickens noted, I have endeavored not to "put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me." Read, enjoy, and feel free to participate in the creative process, either directly below if you are reading this story at the web site where I post my stories or by sending me an e-mail if reading it elsewhere. You can find my e-mail address at either my web site or my my blog. I would appreciate hearing from you even if only to let me know about any spelling or other errors you find since I would like to correct those wherever possible.
THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER: In Chapter 5 Brian recalls some of the reasons he dislikes Christmas, including the commercialism and religious phoniness surrounding the holiday and charities that spend the funds they raise in foolish or bigoted ways. Later, when he gets home, Brian turns on the television in an effort to avoid having to read the book Robbie has given him, only to discover one of the channels is broadcasting the made for TV version of A Christmas Carol. He watches the program with a cynical eye, hurling editorial comments at the television. Later he smokes a joint and retrieves a box from the closet in his bedroom. The box contains pictures of a boy named Eric who had died at the age of seventeen. Brian recalls how the two had met years ago in a gay bar, how he had given the boy a ride back to his home in the Washington suburbs, and how he had rejected the boy's efforts to have sex as a way of compensating him for the ride. In the months that follow the two gradually become friends, with Brian trying to serve as a mentor and role model for Eric even as the boy cautions Brian not to become too attached to him.
WITH APOLOGIES MR. DICKENS
A Tale of Sin and Redemption
One of the ways Eric and I were different was in our attitude toward adults. When I was thirteen, I had trusted adults, but Eric was completely the opposite. He was suspicious of them and for a long time I think he wondered exactly what kind of game I was playing with him.
That didn’t surprise me. In fact, I remember thinking it was a healthier attitude than mine at the same age. But I wasn’t playing a game. I was genuinely trying to show him I was different, that there were adults he could trust who were interested in him for something more than just sex and that I was one of them. As time passed I sensed I was winning him over.
By now we had known each other for months and he was beginning to open up to me. I think it was probably sometime after that last trip up to the mountains in November that his attitude toward me changed for good. I welcomed that.
I wanted to be his friend, someone he could count on; and it seemed to me the best way to do that was by not changing very much, by just being there when he needed a ride home from the bars and offering him opportunities to do things no one else in the bars was willing to do. I was comfortable keeping things the way they were.
And then everything changed.
I was out making the round of the bars one evening in mid-December when an early winter storm rolled into Washington. They had said it was a possibility, but they were usually wrong and I hadn’t changed my plans for the evening. It was still calm and quiet when I descended the stairs to Phil’s that night. It was only later when Eric arrived and I saw his jacket covered with snow that I started thinking about it.
“It’s snowing like hell out there,” he said, grinning at me. “That’s why I stopped by here earlier than usual tonight. I figured you’d be here and was wondering whether you could give me a ride home. If you can, we better go now because it’s really starting to get nasty out there.”
“Sure,” I responded, just like I always did.
I only began to have second thoughts about the idea when I pointed the car north up 13th Street. The snow was coming down really hard by then and the wind was making things worse. The guy on the radio was telling people to get off the roads and all of that made me nervous.
This is going to take forever, I remember telling myself.
I hope I don’t get us killed in the process.
Because I was driving cautiously, it took a long time until we reached the border with Maryland. By the time we did I was even more nervous. The roads were no longer bad. They were downright treacherous. It was right about then that Eric began to moan.
“I’m going be sick,” he said, just as we entered Bethesda. “I need to get to a bathroom real soon or this car of yours is going to be one freaking mess.”
He had obviously been drinking that evening and he looked pretty far gone. I thought about it momentarily and then made the decision.
“My apartment isn’t too far away,” I said. “Try to hold on. We can be there in ten minutes. And then we can head out to Rockville.”
We got to my apartment quickly enough. Once there Eric raced off to the bathroom, the first of several trips he made. But he wasn’t in the bathroom the last time I went checking on him. He was curled up on my bed in a fetal position.
“Ready to go?” I asked.
“I’m freaking tired,” he whimpered when he caught sight of me. “It’s going to take forever to get home in this snow. Can I sleep here tonight?”
I didn’t like the idea. I had decided long ago never to have him over to my apartment. I mean, I wasn’t stupid. I knew there was some physical attraction and having him at my place would only make things worse. On the other hand, the thought of heading back out to try to reach Rockville that evening didn’t hold much appeal either.
“Your parents are going to be worried, Eric,” I finally replied. “They’re going to wonder whether you’re safe.”
“I can call them if you’re worried about it,” he said. “They’ll be happy to know I’m not out on the road in weather like this.”
“Won’t they want to know where you are?” I asked, nervously.
“They know better than to ask that by now,” he added, grinning. “I’m really tired, Brian. Please let me stay here. Please? And let me call my parents in the morning. They won’t like me waking them up at this hour of the night.”
Given the circumstances, the whole thing made sense. As much as I didn’t like it, it was the safe thing to do.
“Okay, you can stay,” I replied. “Why don’t you get yourself cleaned up in the bathroom while I see what I have to take the sting off that hangover you’re going to wake up with?”
It didn’t take very long for him to finish up in the bathroom. I gave him a couple of aspirin and made him drink a big glass of water to help keep him hydrated. Then I watched as he pulled off his clothes and climbed into bed. I remember tucking him in for the evening, then kissing him on the forehead gently. He just smiled at me momentarily, then fell asleep as I stood there staring at him.
I remember sighing and wondering what I should do. My first thought was to sleep on the rollaway couch in the living room, but by then I was tired as well. I didn’t really want to make up the couch so I just pulled off my clothes, climbed into bed and eventually fell asleep beside him. It was a queen sized bed and there was plenty of room for two. I figured it would be safe.
Eric was still asleep when I finally woke up the next morning. He needed the rest so I just laid there a long time staring at him. Eventually, after considerable moaning, he finally woke up and looked over at me.
“Are you feeling okay?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Eric responded, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. “Not much of a hangover, thank heaven. My back hurts though. I must have slept the wrong way. Can you give me a back rub, Brian?”
I remember feeling uncomfortable with that request. Touching him like that worried me.
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” I said.
“It hurts, Brian,” Eric said, flashing his shy, innocent little boy smile at me. “It hurts really bad. I won’t try to rape you. I promise.”
And then he rolled over on to his stomach, exposing his butt to me.
I started to massage his back with my hands. He had the softest, smoothest, skin I had ever touched in my life. Then, just as that thought was sinking in, I felt my cock starting to go hard without any warning at all. I was glad Eric had his back turned to me and couldn’t see my erection.
You need to stop this right now, I said to myself, staring at his ass.
But my eyes were fixated on the thing. It was small, round and cute, a fantastic little bubble butt, and I could feel my cock beginning to throb.
The next thing I knew his hands were all over my body and he was kissing me. He was pushing his tongue into my mouth and I wanted to get into it so much. But somehow I summoned my resolve and finally pushed him away.
“Stop it, Eric,” I said. “You promised you wouldn’t try anything.”
Realizing I was serious, he rolled over on to his back and grinned at me.
“So I lied,” he replied. “Shoot me. It would have helped with the hangover to get fucked.”
I climbed out of bed and walked over to the window. Cracking open the blind, I took a look around.
“This is unbelievable,” I said. “There’s snow everywhere out there. You may want to go back to sleep for a while because we’re not going anywhere soon, that’s for sure.”
“Is that right?” he asked. “Well I’m looking at something unbelievable too.”
I turned around and looked over at him and he was just staring at me; and then I realized I was naked and he had been staring at my butt.
“Go to sleep, you little perv,” I responded, placing my hands over my groin.
He laughed and then took me up on the suggestion. He rolled over, closed his eyes, and promptly fell asleep again.
I went to the bathroom and took a long shower, a cool one.
Why is everything so complicated, one part of me said? You know he’s right. You know you want to have sex with him and he’s willing to have sex with you. What’s the big deal? It’s not like he’s a virgin. That kid has had more sex than you’ve ever had and he’s a lot younger too.
Stop with all the moralizing for crying out loud!
Love is different than sex, Brian, my other half said. He has problems he needs to address. You know it as well as he does. You’re not going to solve his problems for him, but he’s not stupid either. He knows he can’t trust very many people. You’re one of the ones he does, but his trust in you is pretty fragile.
He may not mind if you have sex with him. But if you do, you’ll have proven what he knew all along, that adults can’t be trusted.
When I had finished showering and shaving, I pulled on some fresh clothes and peeked in on Eric. He was still sleeping, the sheet covering his body except for one of his legs. Curled up on the bed like that, he looked just incredibly cute. I sighed, then turned around and headed for the kitchen.
I knew he would be hungry when he finally woke up so I looked around to see what I had. I didn’t have a lot, but it would be enough to get the two of us through the day and perhaps beyond if need be.
Eric finally got up about two hours later. I had washed and dried his clothes by then and had left them in the bathroom so he would have them after he finished showering. When he finally showed up in the kitchen, he had a sheepish grin on his face.
“Sorry about this morning,” he said. “I really was feeling lousy last night so thanks for letting me stay here. As for this morning, well, a girl has to do what a girl has to do.”
“Oh, yeah,” I said, looking over at him. “And just where’s this girl you’re talking about? Are you keeping her hidden under the bed?” I asked.
“Are you insulting my femininity?” Eric replied, giving me one of his pouty looks.
“Well, see, there you go, pretending to be something you’re not,” I said. “Besides, I like you better as a boy than a girl in any event.”
“Really?” he said, his eyes suddenly widening at that revelation. “I can do butch really well, too, Brian. Do you want me to show you?”
He looked totally serious, as if changing how he behaved would somehow persuade me to have sex with him.
“No,” I replied, laughing. “You can be whoever you want to be, but for now I want you to call your parents so they won’t be worried. Tell them you’re safe but snowed in; that you’ll try to get home this evening but you may not get there until tomorrow instead. It depends on how quickly they get the roads cleared out here.”
“Okay,” he said. “No problem.”
“And while you’re doing that, I’ll whip up breakfast or lunch for you, whichever you prefer. Your choices are bacon and eggs with toast or a steak with my homemade French fries. What’ll it be?”
“Both,” he replied, grinning at me sheepishly.
I looked at him for a moment, wondering if he was pulling my leg. He must have known what I was thinking because he quickly reassured me he was serious.
“I’m a growing boy, Brian,” he said, “and right now I’m kind of hungry. In fact, I’m famished.”
“Okay, both it is then,” I said; “and one other thing.”
“What?” Eric asked.
“When you call your parents, tell them how much you love them,” I added, looking over at him.
“Okay,” he replied, shaking his head as if he found me amusing for suggesting something like that.
When his food was ready, I called him. I had already had something to eat, but I sat down at the table across from him. I just sat there staring at him, occasionally trying to steal one of his French fries while he slapped at my hand in an effort to protect them from me.
He ate everything I put before him and that made me wonder how he could be so skinny if he chowed down like that all the time.
“Thanks. That was real good,” he said, looking over at me when he was finally finished. “You’re a pretty good cook for a guy.”
“You’re welcome,” I replied. “Usually it’s just me so I don’t cook, but I figured a good meal would help you feel better.”
I had been thinking about the idea for a while and decided to broach it with him to see if he was interested.
“Um, the thing is, we’re kind of snowed in here, Eric, at least for now. But I was wondering whether you wanted to go outside and make a snowman with me?”
“You must be kidding,” he said, rolling his eyes.
“That’s for little kids,” he added, a note of scorn in his thirteen year old voice.
“Well, EXCUSE me, missy,” I replied, defensively. “I’m glad one of us in this apartment still has a little kid running around inside him.”
Eric started giggling at the way I had said it and soon enough the two of us were outside playing in the snow.
We must have spent an hour building that snowman and it was one of the best I had ever helped build. I was just standing there admiring our handiwork when the snowball hit me in the back of my neck. It caught me totally by surprise and I turned around to see where it had come from. Immediately, I was by pounded by two more snowballs, one hitting my chest and the other my groin.
“You’ll pay for that, you little bitch,” I said, pretending to be angry with Eric.
I had just gotten the words out of my mouth when the fourth snowball hit me square in the chest. I started running toward him and he turned around and scooted away, shrieking at the top of his lungs. But I finally managed to catch up and tackled him. Tumbling to the ground, the two of us rolled around in the snow for a while, just kind of wrestling. It was fun fooling around like that.
Later, after Eric had crafted one final snow sculpture he called Snow Rabbit in Heat and we had gone back inside to get warm, we stripped off our clothes. I tossed them into the washer and pulled out a couple pairs of my old pajamas for the two of us to wear. They were big on him, but served their purpose well enough.
We watched television together the rest of the afternoon, then some movie in the evening. Later still we listened to music before going to bed.
Once I had Eric tucked in, I turned and started pulling out some sheets for the couch.
“No way,” Eric said, emphatically, noticing what I was doing. “I want you to sleep with me tonight. I won’t do anything. I promise.”
“Well, I seem to recall someone else making a promise like that this morning,” I said, looking over at him.
“That was some foolish young girl,” he said, grinning at me. “She lies like the bitch she is. But tonight I’ll be all boy for you, Brian. You’ll be safe. I promise.”
“You’re sure about that?” I asked, looking at him skeptically. “I can trust you?”
“Absolutely,” he replied. “You have my word on it. I know you just want us to be friends and I’m fine with that. In fact, I’m glad about it. It’s nice having a friend who likes me for something more than my ass.”
“Okay,” I replied, joining him in bed. “I’m counting on you.”
“Can I give you a kiss before I go to sleep?” he asked, sheepishly; “on your forehead? Like the one you gave me last night, the innocent kiss?”
“Sure,” I replied.
He gave me the kiss and I liked it. It made me happy and I remember thinking it would be nice to have a real friend in my life for a change. It seemed like forever since I could recall having one.
Then, after turning off the light next to the bed, I spooned up behind him and wrapped him into my arms. Both of us were wearing pajamas and we were tired as well. I figured sharing our warmth like that would help us fall asleep quicker and it did.
Eric was true to his word that night. He didn’t try anything. He was completely trustworthy. The only thing I had forgotten to ask was just how trustworthy I was.
It was sometime in the middle of the night that it happened. Like I said, I had spooned up behind him and at some point during the evening something caused me to go hard. To be honest, I was partly awake, partly asleep, but I knew where my cock was resting and at some point I pressed forward a little just to see what it would feel like; and then I pushed forward a second time and a third and at some point I was inside him and he was moaning and I was doing it to him and he was begging me to push in deeper.
I don’t really know how long the whole thing took. But when it happened, when I finally finished the deed, I remember thinking it had been the most powerful ejaculation I had ever experienced in my life.
It was also the first time I had ever done something like that, at least for me.
I realized what I had done right away and I remember being ashamed of myself. Eric said nothing, just rolled over when I was finished doing it to him and fell back asleep as if nothing at all had happened. But as hard as I tried, I couldn’t get back to sleep after that. I spent the rest of the night tossing and turning.
Why did you do that?
I thought about what I would say when he woke up the following morning; and when he finally did, all of it came gushing out of me like water overflowing a dam.
I can’t remember the exact words. All I know is I told him I was sorry, repeatedly, and I was.
I was genuinely sorry.
But it didn’t change anything.
Eric didn’t say very much except that it wasn’t a problem, that he had enjoyed it, and that I fucked really good. But he seemed distant somehow and quickly accepted when I offered to drive him home right away that morning.
I didn’t see him the next couple of weeks. It was the holiday season and there were a million excuses for not going to the bars. But the truth is I was still ashamed about what I had done. Avoiding him made it easier to forget what had happened; and then, when January finally rolled around, I started a new job on Capitol Hill working for one of the recently elected Members of Congress. I didn’t know what the job would hold for me, but I was hoping it would be more interesting than my previous ones.
A couple of weeks later I got a phone call from Eric one evening at home.
“I’m in the bus station downtown,” he said. “I wanted to tell you something before I leave.”
“What?” I said. “And what do you mean, leave?”
“Well, the thing is, I didn’t want to leave without talking to you,” he continued. “I figured you would go looking for me at some point when your conscience stopped bothering you so much and then wonder where I was when you didn’t find me. The thing is, it’s too cold here in Washington. I need to be someplace warm so I’m going to Miami. It never gets cold in Miami; and, well, you know, there’s lots of glitter in Miami and you know how attracted I am to glitter.”
“Um, well, I don’t know what to say, Eric,” I replied. “I mean, I know I’ll miss you, that’s for sure. Will you be back in the spring?”
“I don’t think so,” he responded.
“The truth is you were the main thing keeping me here,” he continued. “You interested me for some reason. I don’t know why exactly. You just seemed different somehow. You’re a terrific guy, Brian, but I need to move on with my life now so I’m going to Miami. Maybe things will be different there.”
It was a shock and I remember wondering whether he was doing the right thing. But he thought it was the right thing to do and I knew nothing I said would change his mind, not after what I had done.
“I understand,” I replied. “Listen, Eric, I want to tell you something. I mean, um, well, I’m sorry. I know I’ve already told you that more than once, but I really am very sorry. I didn’t mean to do it. It was wrong. I know it and I apologize. There’s something I wanted to tell you that next morning, but it was hard and you wanted to get home and now I guess I won’t get the chance to tell you. And it’s not really an excuse in any event. But if there’s anything I can ever do for you, anything you ever need, just ask. I’ll do whatever I can to make it up to you, Eric. I promise.”
And yet even as I said it I recall wondering how you could ever make up for something like that.
“It isn’t that big a deal, Brian,” he replied. “Don’t worry about it. It’s not like I was a virgin. But, yeah, it was a little disappointing. I was hoping you would be different.”
I was hoping you would be different.
Those were the words that haunted me as Christmas Eve approached every year.
The thing is, when you lose trust in someone, it’s gone forever. I had lost trust in a priest a long time ago. I had wondered how he could do something like that to a kid. Now everything was reversed and Eric had lost trust in me and I didn’t blame him for that. He was right not to trust me. I didn’t trust myself.
I decided to stop visiting the bars after our conversation that evening. I didn’t trust myself to go to them anymore after what had happened. I don’t know why exactly, but Eric had been right to ask.
“Do you like little boys like me, Mister?”
Whatever the answer was, I knew I couldn’t trust myself around them. So I decided it was better to stay away from the bars entirely. It was better to be alone so whatever monster was lurking inside me could never do that kind of damage again.
Although there were times when I wondered how he was doing, I never heard from Eric again after that. I buried myself in my work and tried to blend in; and then one January several years later I picked up a copy of the Washington Blade and there it was staring at me.
It came as a shock. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. How could Eric be dead? He was much too young to be dead. I was the one who should be dead.
And yet later, thinking about it, I guess it didn’t surprise me. The virus had taken everyone by surprise back then. It was the seeming randomness of the thing that was maddening. It was only later they discovered how it was being transmitted; and knowing how it was transmitted pretty much explained everything.
After I had gotten over the initial shock of seeing that notice, after all the memories had receded, I was curious. I wondered who had placed the notice. Whoever had placed it had obviously cared. The Blade was carrying a lot of notices like that back then, but it was larger than most and attracted the eye as a result.
At first I assumed it was his family. If they were like most families, they would have wanted his friends to know he was gone; and while they probably wouldn’t have been familiar with the Blade, the undertaker they hired would have known about it and told them it was the best way to let certain people know Eric was gone.
But later I began to wonder about.
Yeah, sure, more and more people were coming out, but most families I knew were still ashamed about it.
They weren’t really interested in letting people know one of their children was gay. I guess it was the nickname that clinched it for me. Even if they were clueless about what it meant, I didn’t think the family would ever put a nickname like that in a notice.
It must have been placed by someone else, I thought, someone who cared deeply about Eric.
If Eric and I had still been friends, that’s what I would have done. I would have done more, of course; and if the notice had been placed by someone who cared about Eric, I imagine he had done more as well.
Given the alternatives, I remember hoping the notice had been placed by someone who cared, someone who had been there with Eric when he passed away. It made me angry at times that I wasn’t the one there with him; and yet, in spite of my anger, I desperately wanted someone to be there with him. I didn’t want to believe he had died alone, abandoned by everyone, a pariah.
I hadn’t really liked the holiday season for a long time, but I think it was after seeing that notice that I began hating Christmas with a passion. It was the notice, of course, but it was also the memories the notice conjured up whenever I looked at it.
The night before Christmas Eve was the hardest because he had died on Christmas Eve.
Of all the days he could have died, why Christmas Eve?
It made it hard just thinking about it at that time of year; and then, finally aware just how selfish I was being, I began to wonder how hard it must have been for him to die. It was a terrible disease and did terrible things to people. I remember thinking dying must have been very hard, especially for someone so young, someone who had so much to live for.
I could never imagine anyone young welcoming death and I didn’t believe Eric would welcome it. He would have fought to live, fought really hard.
And maybe he would have lived to see Christmas Day in 1985 if I had been someone he could trust.
By then the cat had jumped up on to the bed and I guess that broke my reverie. I took one last look at the pictures Eric had given me, then the ones I had taken.
Eventually I set them aside and took one final look at the notice as well.
Then I began to cry again, for Eric, for myself, for everything that had been lost a long time ago.
He trusted you and you molested him. You molested him just like Father Richard molested you and look what happened.
He ran away to Miami because you were just like everyone else. If he had stayed in Washington, maybe he never would have contracted the virus. Maybe everything would have been different if you had been different, if you had been a better person, a less selfish person.
Maybe he never would have died.
He trusted you, Brian, and look what happened.
The virus may have killed his body, but you killed his soul.
You killed everything that was beautiful about him just to satisfy your lust.
It wasn't about him at all, was it?
It was all about you, Brian.
What kind of person molests a thirteen year old boy?