This is a fictional story dealing with love and consensual sexual activities between males.  If you are not of legal age, reside in an area where viewing such material is illegal, or are offended by homosexuality and/or homosexual themes leave this site now.

The author retains all rights to this story.  No reproductions or links to other sites are allowed without the permission of the author.

Note: Thanks to Tim for feedback on the draft chapters.  I owe a special thanks to Robb for doing the final proofreading and catching all those silly little errors I missed.


by Jeff Allen


While the weather in the first part of the autumn had been almost ideal with cool nights and warm sunny days, the last three weeks of October were the complete opposite.  Cold, rainy, windy, and generally just miserable.  The soccer matches were all on the road, and they were played in miserably wet and cold conditions.  They guys were so muddy by the end of practice or a match it was hard to tell who was who and which team was which.  We did manage to win all the matches, but they were brutal.

The morning conditioning runs were inside the old gym because it was just too nasty to run outside.  Somehow the adverse weather conditions during practices and matches seemed to increase the team's sense of community and brotherhood.  Even more than before, the guys watched out for each other.  They helped each other up from the muddy field; they patted shoulders and butts when someone made a good play; they shouted encouragement even if someone made an error; and scholastically they were arranging for their own tutors when someone was having trouble in a class.  It was marvelous to see the way the team had come together.  I also noticed an increased amount of physical contact in the showers and locker rooms.  Guys spent time washing the mud off the backs of their teammates.  Arms were placed around shoulders and remained there for a long time.  When I thought about it, the behavior was very sexual, but when it was happening, it seemed the most natural thing in the world.

Karl, Donnie, TJ, and TJ's brother Ryan continued to come out to the house on Saturday mornings, but since the weather was so unwelcoming we mostly spent the mornings talking and drinking coffee.  TJ's team spirit seemed to extend enough to include Ryan as well.  I didn't see any frustration or resentment on TJ's part that Ryan was with us.  In fact, I suspected he was now actually encouraging Ryan to come along. 

It was clear to me that both Ryan and TJ thrived on attention from me, and to a lesser extent on attention from Donnie and Karl.  I thought their need for attention from older males must have been because their father was still so ill from the continued rounds of chemotherapy.  I also picked up on the fact that Ryan had some of the same difficulties with his mother as TJ did, and both boys made no bones about the fact they thought their sister (or stepsister) was a spoiled bitch.

TJ had his fifteenth birthday on October 20.  That explained a little of why he appeared more mature physically than other guys in the freshman class.  His real mother had held him back a year before starting him in school, making him one of the oldest kids in his class.  His birthday had actually been on Friday.  When the guys plus Ryan arrived for coffee the next morning, I had a coffee cake from the local bakery ready on the kitchen table.  I lit the candle on the cake and started singing happy birthday; Donnie and Karl quickly joined in.  I thought TJ was going to lose it.  He teared up and gave me a big hug. 

As TJ clung to me, holding back his tears, Ryan folded his arms around both of us and said, "That's really neat, Coach.  TJ and me don't get birthday cakes at home."

I wondered again if troubles between TJ and his stepmother were just the normal sort of teenager/parent tension or something deeper.


I had my introductory encounter with TJ's stepmother during the first week of November.  I'd just gotten home after practice on Tuesday evening and was about to put something in the microwave for dinner when the phone rang.


"Coach Arnold, this is Angela Ladd.  I'm Tyler's mother."


"I have a bit of a situation here that I'm sure you can help me with."

"What's that?"

"As you know my husband, Dr. Ladd, is receiving chemotherapy treatments down in Charlotte.  He will be going down there later this week and staying over the weekend, and I need to be with him.  My daughter will be staying with some friends, and normally Tyler would stay with Karl Henson and his parents, but they will be out of town also.  Tyler thinks so highly of you that I'm sure you wouldn't mind if he and his brother stay with you this Friday and Saturday."

"Well, I had planned to be out of town also..."

"Oh, I know this is sudden, but I am in a bit of a fix here."

"I guess I could..."

"That would be wonderful.  I'll have Tyler take his and Ryan's things to school with him on Friday.  Ryan will walk over to practice from his school.  I'll be back late Sunday evening so the boys may need to stay on Sunday night also.  I'm sure you understand."


"Thank you, Mr. Arnold.  I'm sure the boys will appreciate it.  Good night."

I stared at the receiver after she hung up.  Ginger and I had planned on going down to a bar in Charlotte on Saturday night, but my plans had just been changed.

I called Ginger and explained the situation to her.  Of course she laughed her cute little ass off; she told me I was "an easy mark."  She also told me she'd miss my company and that she would be sure to tell me on Monday about all the cute guys I'd missed at the bar.

The next morning after the conditioning run, TJ with just a towel around his waist came into my office as I was pulling on my trousers.

"Coach, I need to apologize for my step mom.  I heard her on the phone last night.  She never gave you a chance to say `no'."

I put my hand on his bare shoulder and said, "TJ, you're assuming I would have said `no'.  Your step mom may have been a little pushy about it, but I'd be glad to have you and Ryan stay at my place this weekend."

He grinned from ear to ear.  "Thanks, Coach."

I watched his shapely adolescent, towel-clad butt as he walked back toward his locker to get dressed.  TJ and I hadn't been alone for any length of time since that one day weeks before.  He'd never said anything or even hinted at wanting a repeat of our one time together in the shower, but an entire weekend, even with Ryan as a chaperone, might prove interesting.

The weather had been miserable for three solid weeks.  It changed dramatically on Thursday before our match.  The skies cleared, the sun came out, and the temperature soared up into the high seventies.  Glorious!

We won the match handily. 

Friday's football game was away so we had a regular soccer practice.  The guys were really pumped from their win the day before, and we had a great practice.  About half way through, I noticed Ryan Ladd standing over on the sidelines watching.  When practice was over I had the guys run a couple of laps around the field before heading in for a shower.  I went over to Ryan and told him to go on into the locker room and wait for TJ and me.  Even though he'd been around the guys on the team before, I sensed he was a little reluctant to go on into the locker room.  At twelve years of age being around a bunch of high school jocks would be intimidating.  I put a hand on the nape of his neck and steered him toward the lockers.

TJ saw him and took over.  He led Ryan to his locker and told him to wait while he showered.  I stripped off my gear in my office, grabbed a towel and headed to the shower room.  I glanced over at Ryan.  He was trying not to look, but he just couldn't help but take a glance now and then at the naked soccer players.  He was sitting with his hands pressed between his legs.  I was sure he was trying to hide an erection.

I showered and moved toward the drying area between the locker room and the shower room.  From where I was standing I could see Ryan still sitting next to his brother's locker.  His hands were pressed even harder into his crotch trying to control his erection.  He was looking in toward the shower room.  I followed his gaze and saw that he was looking at Jordan Nance and Christopher Harris who were sharing a showerhead.  Christopher was washing Jordan's back.  They were laughing together about something.  Jordan's dick was standing at attention, and Christopher's was in the process of "plumping."

I finished drying off, wrapped the towel around my waist, and headed over to Ryan.  Normally I wouldn't have bothered covering myself up with the towel, but in this case I thought it might be less embarrassing for Ryan if I had at least a towel wrapped around my midsection.

I sat down on the bench next to Ryan.  "Hey, champ, I need to explain something to you.  First of all, I know you've been checking out the guys.  That's okay.  It's a natural thing to do, and most men do it whenever they're naked with other guys.  You've also seen that some of the guys here have erections or partial erections.  That's also natural for guys as they're going through puberty.  In other places you might be embarrassed to sprout a woodie in the middle of the locker room, and you'd expect someone to make fun of you, but that doesn't happen here.  It's natural to get erections.  In fact, I think you probably have one right now.  It doesn't mean anything except that your hormones are kicking in and you're growing into a man.  Guys can't control when they get erections, so we've decided that this is a `safe place.'  No one will make fun of you for popping a boner.  No one is going to call you names.  What happens in here, stays in here.  We don't talk about it to anyone outside the team.  You saw Christopher washing Jordan's back.  Look over there now, and Jordan is returning the favor.  If you're in here more, you'll see a lot of that.  It doesn't mean anything except that we're a team, and we care for one another.  Do you understand?"

He nodded his head.  I wasn't sure if he really understood at first, but then he lifted his hands out from between his legs and moved them to his side exposing the obvious tent in the front of his khaki pants.

I smiled and got one from him in return.

"Let me go get dressed, and we'll start the weekend.  I thought we'd stock up on some videos from Blockbuster, grab a pizza, and head out to my place.  Does that sound like a plan?"

"Yeah, Coach.  Thanks."

"No problem, champ."

Back at my house the guys literally inhaled the pizza.  When I commented on their appetites Ryan blurted out that they didn't have pizza at their house because his mom thought it was "too common."  TJ looked embarrassed.  I didn't say anything. 

We watched a couple of the action movies the guys had picked before hitting the hay.  I retreated to my bedroom while Ryan and TJ shared the bed in the other room.

The next morning the boys came stumbling down the stairs at the same time.  Both were clad in just their boxers.  I'd seen TJ's body numerous times, but this was the first time I'd seen Ryan without a shirt and pants.  The similarity between the brothers was remarkable.  Ryan was just a younger version of TJ.  The younger boy's body was beginning to mature.  He had well-formed legs with just a hint of hair beginning to appear on his shins.  His tummy was flat, and his chest showed the promise of muscular development later in youth.  I saw a few wisps of dark hair under his arms so I figured he already had pubic hair as well.  I knew from the size of the bulge in his pants in the locker room that his dick had started to grow, but that was hidden by the plaid boxer shorts.

While TJ and I were drinking a cup of coffee Donnie Micheaux called to explain that he and his girlfriend were having some problems and he wouldn't be out to run with us that morning.

Ryan kept up with us pretty well on our run.  I was impressed.  I considered TJ to be a natural athlete.  It looked like his half brother might be one also.

After the run, the boys and I went to work on my yard.  It had suffered from the long three weeks of rain in October.  All of the leaves were down, and the grass needed mowing desperately.  Of course TJ was glad to pitch in.  Ryan wasn't too keen on the idea of doing yard work at first until I told him he could use the riding mower.  Then he thought yard work might be fun.

By lunchtime, we'd finished mowing, raking, and trimming the yard.  I fed us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I had one.  They had two each.  In the afternoon we did the final weeding of flowerbeds and clearing out the dead plants before winter.  Afterwards we moved on to the orchard and got it cleaned up. 

In was beginning to get dark by the time we quit for the day.  I think the boys were tired.  I know I was.

Back in the house I told the boys to grab showers before dinner so they wouldn't stink so much.

TJ and Ryan grinned at each other and then grabbed my arms and propelled me toward the stairs with them.

TJ laughingly joked as we headed up the stairs, "Come on, Coach.  We're not the only ones who need a shower.  You stink as bad as we do."

We stripped down in the bathroom.  Ryan didn't hesitate to shed his clothes and was the first one in the large shower enclosure.  He turned on the water and adjusted the temperature of the showerheads as TJ and I finished undressing.  I watched Ryan as he moved around in the shower.  Like his brother, he had an impressive dick for a kid his age.  He didn't have a lot of pubic hair yet, but his cut dick was already three or four inches long and respectably thick.  His ball sac contained two orbs that were already nearly the size of small hen's eggs.

When TJ got into the shower Ryan grabbed the soap and started washing his brother's back.  I took one of the other showerheads and began to soap up while watching the two brothers out of the corner of my eye.  After Ryan finished with TJ's back he turned around.  TJ got the hint and returned the favor, but where Ryan had stopped at the top of TJ's ass, TJ continued down and spread the soap over Ryan's smooth butt and then reached around and ran his soapy hands up Ryan's flat tummy and chest and then out his arms.  As he did so his cock momentarily pressed against Ryan's butt.  Ryan giggled in response but didn't move away.

After the shower, I stuck some potatoes in the oven to bake and fired up the grill for steaks.  When I opened a bottle of beer Ryan asked if he could have a taste and TJ quickly echoed the request.

Both boys were surprised when I replied, "Yes, you can each have one beer because you guys both worked hard today.  Now before you get all excited, there are a couple of conditions.  Don't expect a beer every time you're out here.  It ain't gonna happen.  Second, it's one beer only.  Don't even think of asking for another one.  And last, this is between the three of us.  I could get into a lot of trouble if people found out I gave you an alcoholic beverage.  Agreed?"

They both nodded their heads in agreement so I fished two beers out of the refrigerator and handed the bottles to them.

"Drink it slowly," was my last admonition.

The guys took me at my word.  They were still nursing their beers at the end of dinner.  We cleaned up the dishes and settled in to the living room to watch some more videos.  TJ and Ryan still had a little bit left in their beers, which had to be very warm and flat by that time.  I opened a second brew for myself and settled down on the floor in front of the TV.

We were most of the way through the cheaply made martial arts video the guys had picked out when I had to go to the bathroom to get rid of some of the beer.  My muscles had stiffened up from lying on the floor and I groaned involuntarily as I got up and headed to the bathroom to pee.  I groaned again when I got back down on the floor.  I couldn't believe how tight my shoulders were from the yard work.

TJ poked at my ribs with his bare foot.  "What's the matter, Coach?  Sore?"

"Yeah, guess you little monsters worked me too hard today."

He poked his foot at me again and laughed.  "We worked you too hard?  Man, talk about a slave driver.  I'll bet you broke every child labor law on the books today."

"I didn't break any child labor laws because I didn't pay you anything, and if you poke me with that foot again I'm going to tear it off you."  I tried to make my voice sound gruff.

TJ rose to the bait.  "Oh right!  You and what army?"

"Only me, buster!"  I grabbed his foot and spun him around to put him in a headlock.

Ryan came to the aid of his brother, and the three of us began a playful free-for-all on the floor.  We wrestled around for a couple of minutes until I yelled out from a sudden cramp in my shoulder.  That caused the boys to move away.

There was real concern in Ryan's voice when he asked, "Are you hurt, Coach?"

"No, not really.  It's just a cramp in my shoulder."

"Do you want me to give you a shoulder rub?  I do that for TJ some times."

"Let him do it, Coach.  He's got really strong hands and gives a great back rub."

"Okay.  How do you want me?"

"Take your sweat shirt off and lie down on your stomach."

I peeled off my sweatshirt and lay down cradling my head in my folded arms.  Ryan knelt down at my head and began kneading my neck and shoulders.  TJ was right; the kid had great hands.  His hands were large for a twelve-year-old, the size of most adult men, and surprisingly strong.  He seemed to have a sense of which muscles to knead for maximum effect.  I was soon purring under his touch.  I became aware of TJ massaging my bare feet.  It felt great.  I must have zoned out for a minute or so because the next thing I was really aware of was TJ placing his hands under my stomach and untying the waist cord of my sweat pants.

"Lift up a second."  I raised my hips, and TJ slipped the sweat pants down and off leaving me clad in just my boxers.  I felt TJ begin to massage my calf muscles as Ryan began to move his hands from my shoulders down my back to the tops of my boxers just above my butt before moving back up to my shoulders again.  In the meantime TJ's massage had moved from my calves to my lower thighs.  I purred again under the ministrations of the two boys.

Ryan's hands came down my back to slide under the band of my boxers and halfway down the globes of my ass.  At the same time TJ's hands slide upward on my thighs to move under the leg band of my boxers and up the mound of my butt cheeks.  I felt the boys' hands meet in the middle of my butt.  My dick had been getting hard before that point, but now it was rock solid and straining against the floor.

Both boys switched from kneading and rubbing with their hands and fingers to a light, almost imperceptible touch using just the tips of their fingers.  Man, I thought I would cream my shorts right then.  The sensations were overpoweringly sensual but totally relaxing at the same time.  I heard myself start to snore . . . then I didn't hear anything for quite a while.

I woke up at the end of the movie flanked by the boys.  Ryan was stretched out along my right side with his head resting in the small of my back.  TJ was on my left sitting Indian style on the floor with his leg resting along mine.

As I started to come back to consciousness, TJ leaned back and said, "Maybe we worked you too hard today, Coach.  I think it's time for bed."

I got up and stretched.  My dick was no longer fully erect, but it did create a serious tent in my boxers when I stretched.  I noticed Ryan giving it a good look.  We turned out the lights and headed up the stairs.  The three of us peed into the bowl at the same time before brushing our teeth at the sinks.  I said good night and headed into my room.  The boys headed to theirs.

I stripped off my boxers and climbed in between the sheets.  I had just gone to sleep when I felt the bed move.

In the darkness TJ whispered, "Ryan's asleep.  There's something I've wanted to do for weeks now, but this is the first chance I've had.  Lie back."

I felt his naked body press against mine.  Then he slowly slid down until he was able to take my penis in his mouth.  Either this was not his first time to have a dick in his mouth or the kid was as much a natural cocksucker as he was a natural soccer player.  I wondered if the "playing around" with Karl that TJ had admitted to involved fellatio.  He soon had me at the brink of orgasm.  I tugged at his shoulders and moved on the bed.  He got the message and twisted his body around so that I had access to his crotch.  I couldn't see in the darkness, but I smelled his musk and felt the heat coming from his groin.  I grasped his hard penis and guided it to my mouth.  He moaned in pleasure.  Soon we were both close to orgasm.  I unloaded first.  He took all of my cum and then began to move his own prick in and out of my mouth.  I concentrated on him, and within seconds I was rewarded with five big spurts of his ball juice.  His cum had a slight almond taste.

TJ moved around so we were facing each other.  I leaned in and kissed him with just-after-sex passion at first but then with more gentleness as the kiss continued. 

We broke the kiss, and he nestled his face against my neck.  "That was better than I'd imagined.  Thanks."

"TJ, I . . ."

He put his finger up to my lips.  "Don't say anything.  I wanted to do that.  Just hold me for a little while.  This is my `safe place.'  Let me stay here."

I pulled him closer.  He sighed softly against the skin of my neck.

The sky outside the window was just beginning to lighten when I woke up the next morning.  TJ lay spooned in my arms, his silky muscular backside pressed against my belly.  I listened to his breathing.

I suddenly realized that the bed didn't feel right.  I turned my head.  Ryan was lying under the covers on the far side of the bed looking at us.  I thought, `Oh shit, we are so busted!'

Ryan reacted to my movement by wiggling closer under the covers.  He pressed his body against mine and maneuvered his head under my arm.

"I've been watching you sleep.  Hold me too." 

He snuggled closer.  His hand slid across my stomach and down to my pubic hair before moving across my body to TJ.  His exploration had revealed TJ's and my nakedness.  I thought that discovery would surely bring an outraged question, but he just pulled off his own boxer shorts and pressed his now naked body back against mine.

The boys slept in my arms for another couple of hours.  I didn't sleep.  I watched the sky grow lighter and lighter and the furniture in the room become more distinguishable as the sun rose higher.  Eventually the pressure in my bladder grew uncomfortable so I extricated myself from the sleeping boys and headed into the bathroom to pee.

I was on my second cup of coffee when TJ and Ryan, both clad in just their boxers, walked into the kitchen.

They came over and gave me a hug.  Ryan settled at the table to select his breakfast from the boxes of cold cereal I'd placed there.  TJ made a detour to the coffee pot.

I cleared my throat.  "Guys, we need to have a talk about last night."

Ryan looked up from his cereal.  "You mean about you and TJ sleeping together?"

TJ settled at the table with his coffee.  "I think Ryan's cool with it, Coach.  He's seen K . . . ah, a friend and me playing around, and he's never said anything."

"I know TJ likes guys.  It's no big deal."

"It is a big deal for me," I forged ahead.  "If you told anyone about TJ and his friend, it could make life pretty miserable for them at school or home.  If you told anyone about TJ sleeping in my bed or about the three of us taking a shower together, then I could be in real trouble.  I'd lose my job for sure, and I might even be put in jail.  Do you understand?"

Ryan swallowed a mouthful of cereal and started an eye roll before answering.  "Coach, I know.  I'm not going to tell any one.  If I did then I wouldn't be allowed to come out here again.  I like it out here.  You don't treat me like some dumb kid who's tagging along with his big brother."

"Thanks, Ryan.  You're a neat kid, and I enjoy having you around here and at school."

His eyes lit up, "Does that mean I can come over to soccer practice more often?"

"There's only a couple of weeks left in the fall season, but you're welcome any time.  When we start practice again for the spring season, you can be there all the time if you want."

He came over and gave me a big hug.  "Thanks, Coach.  I'll be there.  I want to be a good player like TJ when I get to high school."

We finished breakfast without too much more conversation.  Both the boys had eased my misgivings.

We finished the clean up work in the orchard and started organizing the barn.  I called a halt to the work in mid afternoon so the boys could do their homework and I could grade some papers and make lesson plans.


I made spaghetti for dinner.  Afterwards the three of us settled onto the floor of the living room to watch TV until bedtime.  Ryan had his head on my stomach, and TJ was cuddled up against my shoulder. 

We showered together before bed.  After brushing his teeth, Ryan walked into the other bedroom as TJ and I retreated together into mine.

We ended up in a 69 position again.  TJ was hell bent to bring both of us to climax quickly, but I slowed the action down.  Finally both of us couldn't hold back any longer, and we exploded into each other's mouth within seconds of each other.

TJ rearranged himself on the bed to snuggle under my arm.  I drew him in closer and kissed him on the forehead.

Sometime later Ryan crawled into bed with us.  I woke up in the middle of the night to find his naked body pressed against my backside as I spooned with TJ.


Soccer season ended in mid November.  Our record for my first season as a coach was 8 and 3.  Not a bad showing for a rookie!

With the season over I suddenly had a lot more free time since we didn't have afternoon practice.  I still showed up at school each morning at six to run.  The team had almost insisted on continuing the tradition of a morning conditioning run followed by eating breakfast in the cafeteria as a team.

The week before Thanksgiving Karl accompanied by Larry Bledsoe and Ricky Jordan, who had been a part of the planning for the apple sale, came to see me after school.

Larry started out, "Coach, we really want something to do as a team in the afternoons."

"What do you mean?"

"Karl, Ricky, and me and some of the other guys have been talking, and we don't think that the morning run and eating breakfast together is enough to keep the team spirit going until spring practice starts in February.  We want to do something in the afternoons as well."

"We can't have soccer practice, if that's what you're asking for.  It's against league rules to have an organized practice out of season."

Ricky jumped in, "We know about that, Coach, but we were wondering if we could maybe have a study hall or something like that in the old gym.  That would keep us together, and we could help each other with our grades and things."

"Would the league rules allow something like that?"  It was Karl that time.

"Yes, I think they would."


Ricky came in again, "What about doing some conditioning exercises?  I'll bet there are some things we could do that would help us be better ball handlers next season."

"I'd have to check on that.  I think we could use weights, but I'd bet that any agility exercises with soccer balls would be out of bounds."

Larry spoke out, "Would you be willing to work with us on that, Coach?"

"You know I would, guys.  I've kind of missed having you lugs around each afternoon."

I talked with the principal and the AD the next day.  We worked out the details and so "Team Time" became a standard part of our lives on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons.  We met in the old gym next to our locker room.  The guys scavenged some tables and chairs for studying, some old free weights for light workouts, and some cast off floor pads from the wrestling team that the guys used for taking naps, reading, or just lounging around.  I insisted that the "Team Time" be open to any male student.  I thought it might serve as a recruiting tool for the next soccer season.

The first day "Team Time" met, I asked the guys to establish rules.  They were simple, and we posted them on the wall.  They were: "1. Respect your teammates; 2. Help your teammates; 3. This is your space so keep it clean." 


I had been planning on spending the Christmas holidays with my brother Deuce and his family, but that didn't work out.  Deuce called me on Thanksgiving and told me that Christie, his wife, had found a great deal on a holiday trip to Hawaii and really wanted to go.  Of course that would mean that I couldn't be with them over Christmas.  Deuce was disappointed.  We'd talked once or twice a week on the phone, and both of us had been looking forward to seeing each other again, but I understood that Deuce needed to keep peace in his own family, so I told him I didn't mind and that I'd just come out for a longer visit in the summer.


The day before the start of the Christmas holidays, Donnie came into "Team Time" and asked if he could talk with me back in the office.

Something had been bothering him for a couple of weeks.  He just hadn't been his normal cheerful personality.  Once we were behind closed doors, he sat down, took a deep breath and told me that his girlfriend was pregnant and that they would be getting married over Christmas.

I sat in the chair next to him and put my arms around his shoulders.  "Donnie, is that what you want to do?"

"Doesn't matter what I want, Coach.  I got her pregnant.  We're going to have a baby, and I intend to be there for my child.  I never knew my father.  He left my mom, sister, and me when I was a baby.  I can't let that happen to my child."

"What about college?"

"Maybe later.  Maybe I'll be able to take some courses at the junior college, but I've got to get a job to take care of my family."

"When's the baby due?"

"We think it'll be due sometime in late May."

I did some mental math.  "That means she got pregnant in August."

"Yeah, but she just told me about it three weeks ago."

"Well that explains why you've been preoccupied lately."

He gave a little laugh, "Yeah, I haven't been thinking of much else.  I told my mom yesterday.  She cried and cried, but she told me that I had to `do the right thing and be a father.'  Leigh told her parents last week.  She says it's been kind of rough over at her house since then.  Her parents don't really like me."

"Donnie, I'm sure this has disappointed them, but you're a great person.  They'll get over it."

He looked at me and smiled.  "No, Coach, I don't think they will."

"Why not?"

To my surprise he hugged me tightly.  When he pulled away there were tears in his eyes again.  "Coach, in case you hadn't noticed, I'm Black.  Leigh's White."

"Still, I think her folks will come around."

"Coach, I love you, and I love the guys on the team because for the first time in my life I forgot I was a black man.  You and the guys here have never treated me any differently than anyone else.  Leigh's folks aren't like that.  They don't just not like me, Coach.  They hate me.  They hate me, and her old man has called me `nigger', `coon', and `jungle bunny' to my face.  Sometimes I think the reason Leigh likes me is because it makes her daddy so mad."

"Oh, Donnie, I'm sorry to hear that.  It's going to be hard enough starting out with a wife and baby at your age without adding a whole big bunch of family problems.  You know if you need anything, all you have to do is ask."

"Thanks, Coach."


Weddings are supposed to be happy occasions.  The wedding of Donnie Micheaux and Leigh Finch wasn't.  They got married at the AME Zion Church on the outskirts of Carterville.  Donnie had asked Steve Pope and me to come.  We sat together in the small church.  Karl Henson stood up with Donnie.  Leigh had one of her friends with her.  The wedding party was dressed in their go-to-church clothes.  Nothing fancy.  Leigh's parents had given permission for the marriage, but they didn't attend the ceremony.  The "reception" afterward consisted of cookies and punch served in the fellowship hall of the church.  After the reception, the new husband and wife spent their first night in their new home . . . a two-bedroom apartment above the garage where Donnie worked part-time.

(To be continued)