Chapter 7
Home Sweet Home
Copyright 2005 Julien Gregg
Edited by Bruce

This story is about homosexual teenagers.  If you are offended by this kind of story, then you shouldn't read mine.  If it is not legal for you to read erotic fiction where you live, then you should not read this story.  If you have questions or comments, email me.  You can also visit my webpage.  There is exclusive story there, and you can join my mailing list to be notified when I post to a story.  This story is copyrighted, so please do not duplicate it in whole or in part without permission.

"There are two more boxes in the truck Dustin," said Charlie as he carried the last of his stuff into the apartment.

A week had gone by, and a lot had happened.  As soon as my mother had heard about the judge's decision to emancipate me, she demanded that Charlie move all of our things out of "her" house.  We were going to rent a storage shed to put everything in, but Tom let us have keys to all of the available apartments so we could look at them all.  It didn't take us long to pick one.

It wasn't the biggest place in the world, but it would do for me and Charlie.  He'd only be living there for a few months, but I told him that I'd keep his bed and other things there for him until he needed them.  All we really had were beds and two chests of drawers.  There were a bunch of boxes of odds and ends that Tommy and Steve had given us.  Tom and Shirley had pitched in a few things, too.

Since the next day was Sunday, I was planning to hit a few second hand stores to look for living room furniture.  All we really needed was a couch and chair.  There wouldn't be much room for more in the living room.  It was a combination living room and dining room with the small kitchen separated by a bar with two stools that would serve as our kitchen table until we got one of those.

The bedrooms were spacious with large closets, so I was happy about that.  There was plenty of room for our queen sized beds and chests.  My desk was the only thing in the living room for the time being, so I didn't have to worry about where to put it in my room.  Charlie was already talking about filling the empty living room with weight machines, and he had Steve on his band wagon.

"What do you say?" I asked as I sat down the last of the boxes.  "Unpack or eat?"

"I'm hungry," replied my brother.  "Do we even have food?"

"I thought we'd order a pizza or something," I said.

"We could just go down the street," he suggested.

One of the good things about the apartment was that there were two fast food restaurants and a pizza parlor just down the street from us.  Another good thing was that I was only two blocks from the main campus building of Washington Community College where I'd be taking all of my courses as soon as the Fall semester began.  I didn't like the fact that I was across town from almost every lawn I took care of, but that was just the way it was.

"So are you going with me tomorrow?" I asked my brother once we were seated in a booth at the pizza parlor, waiting for our pizza.

"Depends on what time you want to get out of bed," he said.  "I only get to really sleep in every other Sunday now that I'm in Storyville."

"Well, we could plan on heading out around noon," I said.  "If I wake up before you do, I can start unpacking."

"Then you'll have to tell me where everything is," he laughed.

"What else is new?"  I laughed back.  "If I wait for you to unpack, we'll be living out of boxes until I'm fifty."

"Fine," he sighed in mock frustration.  "Unpack.  Be neat and tidy.  I'll survive it."

"I need to buy two more lawn mowers and a few more rakes and other lawn supplies," I said, changing the subject.  "Andy has two guys from one of his classes that need work, and I have six more lawns lined up starting the week after next. I'll really need the help."

"Did you explain to these people that you won't be the one to always take care of their lawns?" he asked.

"I told them that I was starting a lawn care business and that me or one of my employees would take care of their lawn each week for a fee," I replied.  "My prices are going up, too."

"Why is that?" he asked.

"Well, these two guys that Andy has lined up can lay concrete and all sorts of things that I can't do," I said.  "They're going to teach me and Phillip to do some of those things, so I can start adding to my list of services that I can provide. I'll discuss costs with them and then come up with fees for each service."

"Sounds like you're really putting your plans in gear," he said.  "I'm happy that you're doing what you want, Dustin."

"I'll really be doing what I want after a few classes," I reminded him.

"When do you think you'll be doing flowers and plants?" he asked.

"Hopefully as early as next Spring," I replied.  "I'm sure I'll be able to plant and care for basic flower gardens and greenery after the basic classes.  What I need to look into is a greenhouse."

"Can you rent space for stuff like that?" he asked as our waiter came with the pizza and another pitcher of soda.

"Tom said that he's going to do some checking into that for me," I said.  "Hopefully, we'll find a place where I can store the mowers and other equipment, too. I know that Tommy doesn't mind two mowers and a bunch of rakes in his garage, but there'll be four mowers soon."

"You're planning to pay these guys what you pay me and Phillip?"  He asked.

"So far," I said.  "I'm not sure, though.  I mean, if they're going to be bringing me all of this new knowledge, I might have to give them something extra. Tom was talking about switching from paying by the hour to going to commissions.  I told him I'd give that one some thought."

"Phillip leaves right after I do, right?"  He asked.

"Before you, actually," I replied.

"So you'll be back to three again in August instead of five people working on these lawns," he said.  "How many do you have now?"

"Thirty-six," I said.  "I'm going to have to find more employees before you and Phillip leave."

We were both exhausted from moving everything when we got back to the apartment.  I barely had the strength to put my bed back together.  Luckily Charlie helped me with mine, and then I helped him get his together.  I left him to make his own bed while I made mine.  I fumbled around in the boxes stacked in the living room, looking for towels and then went straight to the bathroom for a shower before bed.

I was awake long before Charlie the next day, and I quickly got started on the unpacking.  It wasn't that hard, because even though there were a bunch of boxes, most of it was dishes, towels and clothes.  There were odds and ends that I had to find places for, and I couldn't put Charlie's clothes in his room, because I didn't want to wake him up.  I just stacked his boxes of clothes in the hall beside his door.

I was sitting at the bar when Charlie stumbled out of his room around eleven, and I'd come up with the perfect plan for how to divide up the lawns.  With only myself and two employees, all thirty-six lawns could be done in four days if each of us took three lawns a day.  I could even let Charlie and Phillip pick which days they wanted to take off that way.  Tom had already given Phillip the use of his truck for the summer, so all I really needed to do to make the plan work was discuss it with Charlie and Phillip and buy another mower.  I had enough rakes and other equipment to make it work.

When I met with the two guys that Andy had lined up, I could figure out the whole thing over again.  I was going to have fliers and business cards made as well, so I figured that I would have even more lawns to do soon.  That would mean that we would have plenty of work for five people to do.  I was pretty proud of myself as I tried to explain my plan to my brother.

"It works for me," he said with a yawn.  "I can buy that little trailer John has and hitch it to the back of my Jeep.  I then can haul around a mower in that. We have the garage units downstairs for our vehicles, and there are spaces for visitor parking.  While I'm here, I could put the trailer in my garage stall and park it in one of our visitor stalls."

"That would work," I agreed.  "I just have to discuss it with Phillip. I need to make sure that he's comfortable with going out alone."

"He's a big boy "D"," said Charlie.  "I'm sure he needs very little protection."

"That's not what I meant," I started to protest.

"You like him, don't you?"  He asked seriously.

"I do," I replied without hesitation.  I'd come to that conclusion the night before when I'd taken a few minutes alone with him before we loaded the last load of boxes to bring to the apartment.

"You're going to get hurt, little brother," warned Charlie.

"I know," I sighed.  "It wasn't like I planned to get attached to him."

"Well, for what its worth, I think he's kind of stuck on you too," he said.

"I figured that out," I said.  "I just don't know what to do about it."

"Well, maybe he'll move to Storyville when he turns eighteen," he said.

"That's over a year away," I said.  "I don't know about that."

"What?"  He asked.  "You think he'll find someone else in Maine to be with?"

"Something like that," I said, remembering his teacher.

Thankfully, he let it drop after that.  We left to go find furniture.  We were both hungry, but I talked him out of fast food and told him we'd go to the grocery store on the way home.  We both were pretty good in the kitchen, so cooking wasn't a problem.  We just didn't have any food in the apartment.  We had a full cabinet of dishes and silverware.  There was enough cookware in the cabinets under the sink to cook for a family of eight, too.

The first place we went had nothing we really wanted.  There was a small dining table with two chairs, but it was badly scarred, and I didn't like it.  When Charlie looked at it he wrinkled his nose.  They had recliners, but no couches.  What they did have was a nineteen inch color television that was fairly new for fifty dollars.  Charlie and I smiled at each other when we saw it, because what we had in the apartment was my small thirteen inch model from my bedroom at home.  We left that store with the television on the seat of my truck between us.

The second store had furniture, and we spent a little time while in there looking at everything before we finally agreed on a rust colored couch and chair.  We even got a coffee table and two end tables that the  owner threw in for free with the couch.  Charlie bought two lamps that matched pretty well, and we had a time getting it loaded onto my truck.  We laughed as we thought about hefting it up to our second floor apartment.

Actually, we had very little trouble getting it all up the stairs.  Everything seemed to tilt and move just right for us.  We were still sweaty and sticky by the time we got it all up there, and as soon as I had it all exactly where I wanted it, I went to take a shower.  I left Charlie to shower while I went to the store to get food.

When I returned an hour later with enough food to stock the house, Charlie was almost salivating.  I had also picked up a small television cart that they were selling at the grocery store.  We decided to wait until after supper to put it together.  Thirty minutes after we'd put all of the groceries away, we sat at the bar with plates of hamburgers and fries.

"So how soon do you want to start the three lawns a day thing?"  Asked Charlie as we ate.

"Well, I want to talk to Phillip about it tomorrow," I said.  "I think he'll like the idea that he'd only have to work four days a week, and he could pick the two extra days off in his week."

"I know I like that idea," he replied.

"I'm going to talk to Tom about getting the fliers done also," I said.  "Andy said he'd have some of his friends pass them out.  He said Gage will pass them out to his clients."

"That should get you some business," he replied.  "Maybe more than you can handle."

"That's what I'm afraid of," I admitted.

"Well, when do the guys that Andy lined up start?"  He asked.

"I'm supposed to talk to them in a few days, and I think Andy said that both of them will be available next week," I said.  "I'll talk to Andy about it."

As soon as we were done eating, I did the dishes.  Charlie had the television cart put together and the television hooked up before I even got done drying the plates.  He was fiddling with the antenna, trying to get channels to come in clearer when I came out of the kitchen.  It didn't look like he was having much luck.  Reception wasn't good.

"When are we going to get cable?"  He asked.

"They're coming on Wednesday to install the Internet, so I'll just add the television to the order in the morning," I said.

"Did they give you any trouble turning all of the utilities on?"  He asked as he sat down beside me on the couch.

"The electricity wasn't hard at all," I said.  "They just wanted a copy of the lease. The gas and water companies gave me a hassle, but Mike cleared it up for me. I also had to have him call the cable company."

"You don't mind having the phone in my name, do you?" He asked.

"No," I said.  "They told me that I had to wait until I turned eighteen to have service with or without my emancipation, so if you hadn't put it in your name, I wouldn't have a phone."

"You need a cell phone," he said.  "That way you can get your calls when you're out working."

"Mike's also taking care of that for me tomorrow," I said.  "It will be in my name, but he has to sign the paperwork for some reason. I don't really understand it all."

"Must suck to have to depend on Mike for so much when you're supposed to be an adult," he said.

"Its frustrating," I admitted.  "He says that once he gets the copies of my documents faxed to all of the right places, I won't have to worry about any of this anymore.  Besides, its July, that means I have five more months now instead of six."

"Well, you'll be eighteen with the beginning of your own business," he said.  "You already have this apartment, and you have furniture."

"I have a television," I laughed.  "I have to admit that I'd like a bigger one, though."

"Yeah, a big screen television would be nice," he agreed.

"Big screens and all of that will have to wait," I sighed.  "Right now I have to worry about paying for classes and renting storage for my mowers and a greenhouse."

"When did Tom say he'd get back to you about all of that?"  Asked Charlie.

"He just said he check into it," I said.  "I'm supposed to talk to him tomorrow, so I'll ask him about it then."

"I've been thinking about transferring to Storyville University," said Charlie.  "I've already discussed it with my sergeant, and he tells me that there wouldn't be a problem, because there are two bases within fifty miles of Storyville. I'm also going to talk to the university to see what it will take to get all my credits transferred. And I still have to find out about my scholarships, though."

"What made you decide this?"  I asked.  I had no idea he was even thinking about it.  I hoped that it didn't have anything to do with me, cause I'm a big boy, and I don't need my brother to look after me.

"I've been thinking about it since the middle of last semester," he said.  "I just really don't like Carbondale, and I miss everyone so much when I'm gone. Since I've been back, I've seen so many of my friends, and they're almost all going to Storyville University."

"I just don't want you to feel like you have to stay here," I said.

"Dustin, I'm not even thinking about taking care of you.  You've way more than proved that you can take care of yourself.  You have your own business, you make more money than I could at any job I could get right now, and you're the one that got us into this apartment."

"Tom did all of that," I argued.

"Right, but he did it to help you.  I've talked to Tom, and he thinks you are a great guy, D. He likes helping you, because he wants to watch you succeed."

"He said that?"  I asked.

"He said a lot of things about you," he replied.  "You know that he didn't have to give us a break on the deposit for this place, and it isn't like he isn't charging us rent. He just rented us an apartment and got Mike to help you with legal matters."

"Without his help I'd be doing all of this a lot slower," I admitted.  "Its nice to have him in my corner."

Our conversation was interrupted by a knock at the door.  We looked at each other wondering who it could be before I got up to answer it.  I smiled when I found Andy and Gage standing in the hall on the other side of the door.  Andy was holding a plant, and Gage was smiling at me as they stood there.

"House warming present," said Andy as I let them in.

"Charlie," said Gage, nodding at my brother.

"Guys," said Charlie, smiling at them.

"Oh, good they don't have a table," said Andy.

"Well I guess I don't have to drive around with it in the back of the Jeep all day after all," laughed Gage.

"What are you two talking about?" I asked as I took the plant from Andy and put it on the bar.

"Have a seat, guys," said Charlie.  "Drinks?"

"Sure, soda."  Replied Andy.

"Coming up."  Replied my brother as I passed him to sit in the chair.

"So?" I asked when I sat down.

"Well, Gage bought a new kitchen table and chairs this morning," said Andy.

"And I was hoping that you guys would take the old one off my hands," said Gage.  "Its downstairs in the Jeep."

"You fit a kitchen table and chairs in your Jeep?" asked Charlie.  "How many chairs?"

"Four," said Gage.  "The table comes apart."

"Is that the glass top table that you had in your dining room?"  I asked him.

"That's the one," he said.  "I'm a huge idiot, though. We went to get some stuff for my sister's wedding, and I saw this table and chairs that I really liked, so I bought it. I was trying to decide what to do with the other one when Andy told me that you guys probably didn't have one."

"I see you have living room furniture," said Andy.  "I can stop looking for that stuff."

"This stuff's just temporary," I replied.  "We needed something to sit on that wasn't bar stools. It's really not too bad."

"The color matches the room pretty well," said Gage.  "Where'd you get this stuff?"

"Crown's Second Hand," I said.  "Over on Center and Green."

"I know the place," he nodded.  "I got my first entertainment center from them when I was in college."

"Well, why don't we go down and get the table and chairs," said Andy.  "If we put it together, maybe Dustin will cook us supper."

"Sure," I laughed.

The table was brass with a glass top, and the chairs were brass framed with brown backs and seats.  They went pretty good with the living room furniture.  We had to move my desk into the hall way, and I decided to move it into my room after supper.  The apartment was filling up pretty nicely, and altogether I hadn't spent more than two hundred dollars for the furniture.

As we all sat around the table to eating pork chops and mashed potatoes, Andy told us all about Jason and Danny, the two guys joining us in a week to help with the lawns.  They were both freshmen at Storyville University, and they needed work. 

Andy said that Jason's father owned a construction company in Missouri, so that was how he knew about cement and concrete.

"He can lay brick paths and other stuff, too," said Andy.  "He and Danny did Gage's walk all the way around the side of the house to the back yard."

"That's cool," I said, remembering the hexagon brick path from my visit to Gage's house.  "I wonder how easy it is to learn to do all of that."

"Jason says that it isn't hard," said Gage.  "They were at my house last night for supper, and we talked to them about what they could teach you."

"They also like the hourly wage, Dustin," said Andy.  "My dad said that you were thinking of going to a commissions structure.  That would mean they would only get a percentage of things that they worked on.  And by them teaching you and Charlie to do the things that they do, they'd lose money on those jobs.  So if all of you took home an hourly wage, then you'd all basically profit from each lawn."

"I've thought about that and decided not to go with commissions," I said.  "I was talking to Charlie about buying more mowers and just sending everyone out to do so many lawns each day.  That way they'd have four days of work and three days off until we get more business."

"That would work out pretty well," he said.  "Unless you're laying a path or walk. Then you'd need a second guy."

"Well, we could always do those separate from the regular lawn service and come back to those on a different day to lay the walk," said Charlie.

"That would work," I said.  "If we did it all at the same time, we'd be at that one lawn for hours."

"Sounds like a plan," said Charlie.  "But you still have to talk to Phillip about going out on his own."

"I'll do that tomorrow," I said.  "I can't send him out tomorrow without a mower.  So I will buy him a mower, and that will leave me only buying two more when Jason and Danny join us."

"They both drive trucks, so transporting the mowers won't be a problem," said Andy.

"That was my next question," I said.

"When do you have to be back in school, Charlie?" asked Andy.

"Well, I'm not really sure about that," he said.  "I'm probably going to transfer to Storyville, so I'll be gone for a few days while I get all of my stuff together to move up here."

"What about the reserves?" asked Gage.

"I've talked it over with all of the right people, and I can get all of that changed."  Said Charlie.  "There are two bases close by, so that's not a problem."

"Well, you've got a place to live as long as your little brother will have you," laughed Andy.

"Oh, I think we'll be all right together," I laughed.

After that, Charlie cleaned up the supper dishes while I joined Gage and Andy in the living room to hang out. We talked about the cable and television, and I told them I wanted to get a DVD player and maybe a VCR pretty soon.  Charlie told me that he had both in his room at school, so I didn't worry about it too much.

I wanted to talk to Andy about Phillip, but I thought that was a discussion that would be better voiced in private.  I needed to figure out exactly how I felt about Phillip before talking to anyone about it any way.  I really liked him.  That much I knew.  I thought about him a lot, but since my father died, we'd been kind of on hold.  The few times we'd been alone together were filled with touches and kisses, and I missed him now that I didn't live in the same house with him.  He was only across town.  I couldn't imagine how I would feel when he was in Maine!

When Andy and Gage left the apartment, Andy stuck his head back inside the door to tell me to call Phillip.  I borrowed Charlie's cell phone and went to my room to make the call.  Tommy answered and I waited while he went downstairs to get Phillip.

"Hey," he said when he picked up the extension.  "I was just thinking about you."

"I've been thinking about you pretty much all day," I told him.  "Andy and Gage just left. I think they're on their way over there."

"Not a chance," he laughed.  "Andy's staying with Gage tonight. He told us that this morning before he left."

"So its just you, Tommy and Steve tonight, then?"  I asked.

"Not exactly, Vince is also here tonight because Maria is with her parents making wedding plans."

"That just blows my mind," I chuckled.  "I can't believe that Vince is getting married."

"I'm just glad that they're getting married two days before I leave for Maine," he replied.

"Yeah," I said softly.  I didn't want to think about Phillip leaving.

"You all right?"  He asked, picking up on my low tone.

"I'm fine," I sighed.  "I'm just liking you a little too much I think."

"Nothing wrong with that, Dustin," he said, and I could hear the smile in his voice.

"I'm worried about how its going to feel when you go back to Maine," I said.

"Well, you know I'll be back next summer, and I'm planning on attending Storyville University."

"And just when did you come to that decision?"  I asked as I smiled from ear to ear.

"Oh a day or two ago," he said.  "I talked to my dad on the telephone, and he said that he would discuss it with Uncle Tom, since I'll only be seventeen when I come back and start college."

"So you'd be living with Tom and Shirley?" I asked.

"Probably," he said.  "Or maybe Tommy and Steve. I'm not sure who all will still be living here by this time next year."

"Well, Vince won't be there, and I won't be there," I said.  "But you know you are more than welcome over here any time you want."

"You know, I have yet to even see your apartment," he said.

"Well, you could pack a bag and come spend the night with me," I said.  "I have to come over there in the morning to get the mowers any way."

"Be there in twenty," he said quickly, and I laughed as I terminated the call.