This story concerns adult and teenage gay males who may be involved in sexual situations. If it is illegal for you to read such stories, or if you do not like to read such stories, please leave now.

This story is copyright 2006 by the author who retains all rights.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

This is my third submission to Nifty. My previous submissions can be found in the High School section under Kiel’s Story. Any comments or questions are welcome at:

A warm thank you goes out to all who write. I appreciate knowing someone is actually reading this stuff, whether you like it or not. I try to answer all emails, even flames. (I’m a writer, I live for rejection.) Although sometimes it takes a little time to get back to you, I do try to answer. If I'm remiss in replying to yours, I apologize.

The Pastel Cowboy

by Carl Holiday

Chapter 18 – Surprise!

Zach stared at the tip of Jeremy’s cock as it spewed cum onto his face. He couldn’t figure out why he liked pulling off at the last moment to watch this incredible feat of physiological engineering, but since Jeremy’s release from Bud’s form of house arrest, he’d been doing that very thing.

Jeremy, on the other hand, tried to swallow Zach’s cock at the moment of impact. He was never successful and took it all in his mouth. He’d hold the cock in his mouth until it decided to wither or remain hard for another assault.

Neither of them could figure out why Zach wasn’t able to go again right away, while Jeremy always seemed primed for stimulation from the second he arrived at the apartment until they held each other for that last kiss. Zach never closed the door until that remarkable bulge in Jeremy’s khakis got onto the elevator and went out of his life.

The cast was gone, yet his arm ached nearly every night as he lay naked next to Carlotta. Although they never probed each other’s bodily orifices with tools of pleasure, as she was not about to become the third link in a bizarre ménage a trios, she often acquiesced to tactile assistance from various places on Zach’s body. He knew she was Paul’s full time lover, but he didn’t know if it was Carlotta fucking Paul or the other way around; and, he didn’t know if Paul knew about Carlotta and other facets of Bruce’s shattered personality.

“I’m not all that happy with the two of you living together,” Doctor Cunningham said the week after Zach learned of Bruce’s problem, “but I’ll not interfere.”

It had been Zach’s appointment, but he brought Bruce along with him. When they walked into the room, Carlotta immediately went to the couch and sprawled over it. Zach hesitated for a moment, then took the overstuffed side chair.

“He’s a wuss,” Carlotta said. “He doesn’t even fight for a piece of furniture.”

“You take karate,” Zach said. “How am I supposed to fight you?”

“Bruce takes karate, dummy,” Carlotta said, “and he’s so unsure of himself he’ll never use it to defend a couch.”

“What? Then who’s slapping me?”

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s one of the others, but it isn’t Bruce or me.”

“Just like a married couple after three months of living together,” Doctor Cunningham said. “I will not counsel you two together. Bruce? Bruce!”



Silently Bruce exited, leaving Zach alone with their psychiatrist. He stared at the floor, avoiding her eyes. He didn’t know whether he was supposed to be embarrassed or relieved. Then she said she wouldn’t interfere with their living arrangements. She did caution him to be very careful of Patty, who hadn’t shown herself in months, but who was quite capable of doing harm.

Zach suspected at that moment it was Patty who bit him in the night. The biting had stopped, though. Maybe one of the others had told her about the threat of arrest raised at the clinic.

“So, we’re okay, then?” Zach asked.

“Yes, I think so, how is Jeremy?”

“He’s coming over until I get my cast off and I can go to him,” Zach said.

“Let him grow up and come to you,” Doctor Cunningham said.

So, at least twice a week, Jeremy showed up at the apartment to get naked with Zach. Sex for them was not mad and passionate, but slow and careful as each studied the other’s response to various stimuli, learning in a mutual exchange of orgasmic bliss. Zach said they’d need it later in middle-age when they couldn’t fuck anymore because Jeremy couldn’t get enough of a hard-on to put it in.

They hadn’t fucked yet, though. Zach wasn’t certain whether Jeremy was holding off until Zach asked or for some other reason. He wanted Jeremy’s dick up his ass and taking his boyfriend’s cum in the face seemed to be some form of psychological punishment for denying access to the warmth of his body and it was him who was denying access. All he had to do was hand Jeremy a condom. Jeremy would have his cock lubed, covered, lubed again, and ready at Zach’s gate in an instant, but Jeremy didn’t ask for a condom and he didn’t offer one.

It wasn’t going to happen today, that was certain. This was Jeremy’s third orgasm and the cum supply was diminishing. Without anal stimulation, his own limit seemed to be two. Yet, this was not enough for him to give in to the younger teen’s unspoken need for dominance, or for Zach’s need to be dominated.

“I met a girl today,” Jeremy said as he came up from Zach’s cock. They kissed, Zach tasting himself in his lover’s mouth. “I think it was a girl. You can’t be certain up here.”

“What do you mean you can’t be certain?”

“Well, you know, all those guys dressing like girls and the girls are just as bad,” Jeremy said as he snuggled down beside Zach. His time of departure was close. Autumn was upon them and it was getting too dark for Jeremy to be out on a bicycle. At least he wasn’t riding the whole distance. He left his bicycle at the bus stop at the intersection of Foundry Ridge Boulevard and Oak Park. It wasn’t a hard slog, but it was all up hill until the last quarter mile as the boulevard wove around the estates at the top of the ridge.

“Did you get her name?” Zach asked as he silently pondered whether to allow Jeremy to fuck him next time. Carlotta said he should wait as long as possible. Bruce said he’d waited too long already. Willy, a young boy not quite thirteen, who’d show up at the oddest times, wanted Zach to let him watch, but Zach said no because he couldn’t be certain Willy would stay. The last thing he wanted was Carlotta making snide remarks; or, worse, having Bruce stick a lubed finger up Jeremy’s ass. Carlotta said he’d do it and Zach wasn’t too certain he wouldn’t.

“Melanie, I think,” Jeremy said. He began to play with Zach’s right nipple. “And, I think she’s a lesbian.”

“Why do you say that?”

“She was with a guy, only that guy wasn’t a guy. It was plain as day, but she introduced him as Robert. Do guys dress up as girls and hang out with girls dressing up as guys?”

“No, I think there’s a rule against that somewhere,” Zach said.

“She said she like to meet you. She said she’s seen you around and wondered if I would introduce you to her. That Robert person didn’t seem to mind at all. He was weird. Would you fuck her, if she wanted?”

“Why would I want to fuck her?” Zach asked. He knew where this was going, but was helpless to stop it now. Jeremy hadn’t mentioned him fucking Sara, so it was time to get it cleared between them.

“I don’t know, would you?”

“I’m sorry,” Zach signed and rolled away from Jeremy. It was true, then. Just like Carlotta said. He liked the feel of a vagina around his dick, but did that make him something he didn’t want to be? He loved Jeremy. He knew that.

He wasn’t paying any attention to Jeremy until he felt the cock press against his gate. He relaxed and winced slightly at the insertion. He rolled onto his stomach and spread his legs. Jeremy was in position, fully inserted, and ready. He waited.

The hard cock in his ass slowly throbbed as Jeremy’s heart quieted from the initial exertion.

He waited.

Jeremy moved slightly, adjusted his body over Zach’s.

He waited.

He felt Jeremy’s body being lowered onto his.

Pain shot though his consciousness as teeth bit into his flesh. He was up and over Jeremy in a flash. He could feel blood trickling down his back. He stared down into the startled boy’s eyes. His blood was smeared on lips he’d kissed only moments ago.

What was he going to do?

He jumped from the bed and ran to the bathroom. Bruce was sitting on the toilet, the odor of his presence hung in the air. He looked at the blood trickling down Zach’s chest and began to hurriedly wipe himself. He flushed and was up beside Zach looking for the alcohol he knew they had.

“What’re you doing?” Jeremy asked at the door.

“Get the fuck out of here,” Carlotta yelled.

Jeremy stared for a moment then slunk back to the bedroom. Zach looked at Bruce, who had squatted down to look in the lower cabinet.

“He wouldn’t come in here because you and that boy were in the bedroom,” Carlotta said. “Well, we had to shit and I wasn’t about to let him do it in our pants. Ah, here it is.”

Zach took the bottle began pouring alcohol over the wound.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Carlotta said. She took the bottle from Zach. “You’ve made a complete mess. Let me look at the bite. Fuck! What the hell was he thinking?”

“He’s sixteen, thinking doesn’t start until seventeen,” Zach said.

“And, you’re good evidence for that theory? We’re going to have to go to the clinic and you know what that means.”

“Can’t you put something on that?”

“It’s a human bite and a deep one at that.”

“They’ll call the police. You heard her, didn’t you?”

“No, I wasn’t there.”

Zach looked at her and understood.

“Tell Jeremy to put his clothes on,” Zach said. “He’ll go with me. He needs to know about biting people. Oh, and call Paul, he can pick us up and take Jeremy home if the police don’t take him.”

“Come on, you can’t go naked,” Carlotta said. “You really do love him, don’t you?

“Yes, I do.”

Gulls wheeled in the sky above them riding air currents thrown up by tall buildings facing the waterfront. Zach fully expected a dollop of bird shit to splatter over his Caesar salad. When the salmon finally arrived the gulls were out over a container ship sailing into Elliott Bay with a load of cheap clothes for discount stores across America.

Bud had been pensive throughout the meal, but when their coffees arrived Zach could see the older man had only been waiting for a less distracting moment.

Paul was quiet, too. His presence surprised Zach, but he knew the two men had some sort of business relationship and Bud knew Paul was sort of a mentor for Zach, so his being at the lunch wasn’t totally unexpected. Obviously, he was deferring any comments to Bud.

Jeremy picked at his food. His plate still hadn’t been removed, as it was practically full, only generally messed up with his constant moving objects around with his fork.

Zach knew of the three of them, he was the least likely to have a part in the forthcoming conversation, as it was Jeremy who bit him.

“I do enjoy a warm autumn day in Seattle,” Bud said as he put down his coffee. He’d ordered an African blend, which was too tart for Zach. “We have a problem and I don’t know how we’re going to solve it. Jeremy here seems to have inherited much of his father’s irresponsibility. By the way, how is the bite?”

“They’re taking out the stitches tomorrow,” Zach said. He looked over at Jeremy, but his boyfriend was staring at a piece of salmon on his fork. “Lucky, I guess, since there isn’t any infection.”

“And, Jeremy goes before the judge tomorrow,” Bud said. He patted his grandson’s forearm then playfully tousled his hair. “Lucky, I guess, as his case remained in juvenile court, but that’s the limit of my involvement. I don’t know what the final decision will be because I have not spoken to the judge, even though she called and asked my opinion. What did you tell them?”

“That I love Jeremy and have accepted his apology for biting me. I told her that someone else had done the same thing and I thought Jeremy was only doing it because of that. Sort of a, I don’t know, if you like it I can do it, too. I don’t know what he was thinking.”

“But, you’re not mad at him,” Paul said. Zach looked at him as if he’d interrupted.

“I was mad at him and then the clinic made such a big deal about it. They called the police and suddenly we’re all giving statements. I had to call Doctor Cunningham because the stupid doctor sent the police to the apartment to arrest Bruce. They couldn’t believe Jeremy had done it. They were so certain he was simply taking the blame. If that wasn’t bad enough, they took me to the hospital for surgery. I guess Jeremy got a little too close to some nerve. But, don’t you see, I love him and don’t want anything bad to happen.”

“Jeremy? Anything to add?” Bud asked.

“Yeah, what’s this all about?” Jeremy asked. He looked at Zach then turned toward his grandfather. “Zach and I have already been through this. I made a mistake, a big mistake, and I’ll be lucky if I don’t have to spend more time in juvy. I’ve been kicked out of that elite private school, but, at least, I got into North Park High. My life is about as bad as it can get. But, what is this about? Grandfather?”

“We’re here to make a decision,” Bud said. “Paul and I have discussed the situation along with Doctor Cunningham and I think we came to a viable decision about how we’re going to manage your, both yours’ and Zach’s, lives for the next few months. It’s more than obvious both of you love each other. I don’t understand it, but I knew whatever was decided had to take that into account. I’m not so stupid not to know young love is one of the great powers of the universe and will bend and break any force pressed against it.”

“Then I can continue to see Zach,” Jeremy said.

“I didn’t say that, did I?”

“No, sir,” Jeremy said. He looked as if he’d been hit with a broom handle. The smile was gone as he knew this wasn’t going to be to his liking, even if that were possible.

“You’re too impetuous, like your father and I suspect, your mother, who I’ve also spoken to. She still has some responsibility over you whether she wants it or not.”

“Mother is in on this, too?” Jeremy looked totally defeated. Zach suspected Jeremy was close to tears, but Bud was being as gentle as he could.

“Not as much as I would like, but I’ll take whatever advice I can get,” Bud said. The waiter came by and refilled Bud’s cup and moving around the table Paul’s, who was also drinking the African. He looked at Zach.

“Sumatra,” Zach said.

“Sure, be right back. Are you finished, sir?”

Jeremy looked up at the waiter and shook his head. “No, I think they’ll skin me before throwing me to the dogs.”

“It’s not that bad boy,” Bud said.

“Oh my god, it’s Carlotta and Wahoo,” Zach said as he watched two classic drag queens done up as Carmen Miranda, including the fruit, walking through the tables. They were following the maitre d’ who didn’t seem all that perturbed they were invading his restaurant. When he sat them at a long table along the railing, the best table on the terrace, Zach knew the “club” was having a business lunch.

Paul’s mouth was in bass mode, gaping open as if waiting for a lure to come slithering by. His eyes followed the pair before settling on Zach.

“That’s Bruce,” Paul said.

“Obviously, you don’t know,” Zach said.

Wahoo caught their stare and waved. Zach waved back and, surprisingly, Bud did too. For a moment, Carlotta acted as if she’d been caught in a snare. Then she, too, gave a little wave.

“You know Carlotta?” Bud asked.

“No,” Paul said. “Isn’t that Bruce?”

“No, that’s Carlotta,” Zach said. “She’s one of personalities struggling within Bruce’s head. It’s all too complicated to talk about here. Paul?”


“If you’re nice and try to understand, I’m sure Carlotta, or maybe, Willy, will talk to you,” Zach said. “You might want to ask Doctor Cunningham, too. But, don’t try to talk to Bruce, it makes him upset and he goes away.”

“But I see him nearly every day,” Paul said.

“You see the body, but you’re probably not paying attention to the personality.”

“How many?”

“I know of five, but I think there’s at least one more, but he or she won’t talk to me. Doctor Cunningham won’t help on that matter. She says to go with the flow and help out when I can. He’s okay and not a danger to anyone.”

“Well, Jeremy, you look like you also know those two,” Bud said. He seemed more at ease with the interruption. It had broken the tension.

“Yes, sir, Carlotta was there when I bit Zach,” Jeremy said. He wasn’t looking at anyone. “Wahoo was the nurse who treated Zach. Both of them talked to me before the police took me away. Carlotta calls me sometimes. She’s nice.”

“Okay, this has gone on long enough, and we’ve seen the floor show,” Bud said, “so I think I’ll take the rabbit out of the hat and let the boys chew on it. From this day forward, until I decide it’s over, you can consider yourself on restriction. Zach can come to visit and you can visit him, but in each instance, your visits will be supervised, which, quite simply means no sex. If you two want to engage in phone sex, well that’s fine with me. Paul?”

“Zach, I trust you to follow through on this,” Paul said.

“Carlotta, also, said she’d be willing to help,” Bud said. Paul looked at him. “I met her at Doctor Cunningham’s office, or, rather I met Bruce who I know, but it was Carlotta who had come for the appointment. She said she can keep you on an even keel. Is that right?”

“Yes, sir,” Zach said. Yeah, he said to himself, Carlotta can certainly keep me on an even keel. She was definitely more responsible than Bruce.

“Any questions?” Bud asked.

“No, sir,” Jeremy whispered.

“Sounds fair,” Zach said.

“Good, by the way, when is David’s party?” Bud asked.

“Next Saturday,” Paul said.

The party was all set. The out of town guests were sequestered in their hotels. David was taking his medicine as prescribed. The caterer was doing all of those day before tasks needed to turn a so-so birthday party into something spectacular, or that’s what Zach thought as he lay on his back staring at the ceiling in the dark bedroom.

He was going to be eighteen on Sunday, but everyone was going to be celebrating David’s birthday Saturday night. Who was going to be in the mood to do anything for him on Sunday? He wasn’t completely excluding the idea something was afoot, but had enough doubts built up to come to the conclusion it would be, at best, a belated celebration.

Bruce’s body was next to him, but further away than usual. The menagerie of Bruce’s mind wasn’t all that difficult to deal with as long as he didn’t make a big issue about Patty coming on to him in the middle of the night. Once he’d gotten to know Patty, it wasn’t so bad because basically Patty was only interested in one thing, making her lover hurt. She was a sadist. Zach was just enough of a masochist to tolerate a little bit of pain. When the agony went beyond his limit, and he did have a limit, he simply told her to stop and, for the time being, she did.

Willy was coming around more, too. He’d snuggled up to Zach one night and before they dropped off to slumberland, Willy slowly stroked Zach’s cock. He didn’t come, but Zach felt Willy’s cock jerking against his thigh and the hot splatter of cum hitting his leg. He kissed Willy on the forehead and turned on his side to go to sleep. The young boy spooned in behind and draped an arm down over his chest. Patty didn’t show up that night.

And, then, tonight, Donny came out of the dark shadows and asked Zach to check his asshole after taking a shit. He said Mommy got mad when he didn’t clean himself properly and he wanted to make sure he’d done a good job. Zach could see the boy had used more than enough toilet paper, but he still had to bend over and stare at an asshole he’d licked more than once.

“Did I do okay?” Donny asked. The voice was very young and very worried. This was a boy who’d been on the receiving end of more than one spanking and was willing to do anything to prevent another occurrence.

“Yes, it’s clean enough to kiss,” Zach said.

“Eww! Don’t do that!” Donny whispered. “Mommy will get mad if you touch my boo-boo. I’m not supposed to let strangers touch my boo-boo or Mister Winky. You’re not going to touch me, are you?”

“No, I won’t touch you,” Zach said. “I’m going to bed, now. Will you be okay?”

“Uh, huh,” Donny whispered. “Mommy says I’m a big boy now and can turn out my own light. Do you know my Mommy?”

“No, I haven’t had the pleasure.”

“She’ll spank me if you touch me. You promise not to touch me?”

“Sure, I won’t touch you,” Zach said. He was heading for the bedroom and Donny was following, a few feet behind. “Will you tell me your name?”

“Donald Abernathy Stuart, but Mommy calls me Donny. I was Brucie’s twin brother, but I died before we were born. I was strangled by his cord. That’s what Mommy said. Do you believe her?”

“I guess she’d know,” Zach said. He sat on his side of the bed and waited for Donny to turn out the light. He didn’t know how it worked for twins, whether they were in one amnionic sack or two. He figured if they were identical they must have been in one, but he didn’t know. It was enough to know that’s what Bruce’s mother told him.

“Don’t you wear anything when you sleep?” Donny asked from the other side of the bed.

“No, but I can if you want.”

“I want to wear my Spidermans’s so Mister Winky doesn’t get cold, but I have to wear these.” He held up a pair of blue and green plaid boxers.

“Okay, I’ll put mine back on.”

After he was properly attired, Zach slipped under the covers and turned out his lamp. He heard Donny saying a prayer where everyone, including him, David, and Paul, were asked to receive God’s blessing and protection. The other light went out shortly after Zach heard the amen.

Zach lay there in the dark wondering how it would be to grow up knowing you had a twin and knowing, because your mother told you on numerous occasions, that he died because you were in the same womb and he wouldn’t have died if you weren’t twins. It was a scary thought thinking how much she must hate Bruce for living while his brother never had a chance. No wonder he was screwed up in the head.

Sleep was taking over, though, and thoughts were fading into dreams. Zach felt a hand on his arm, but he didn’t move. Fingers worked their way down toward his hand and quietly enveloped it.

“Thank you for being nice to Donny,” a voice said. It wasn’t any of the personalities he’d heard. “He gets scared sometimes and needs to know it’s okay to talk to strangers.”

“Sure, anytime.”

The last thought to cross Zach’s mind was asking who had just spoken to him. He had no idea, but it was most likely whoever was holding his hand.

The North Park College Sawyers football game with the UPS Loggers didn’t come down to the wire. It wasn’t even close. It was a record setting game, though. The Sawyers total offensive yardage was a meager three yards. The quarterback was sacked seventeen times, had every pass intercepted, and fumbled six times. It was the worse performance by a Sawyer quarterback in the history of the school, but he was all they had.

Zach was in the stands with Jeremy, Willy, and Bud. He almost wanted to go down and ask the coach if he could tryout for the team, but he was a known queer at school and a jock is a jock, even if he was a high IQ jock, which to Zach sounded impossible. He’d bumped into a few of the members of the team at the field house or, rather, they’d bumped into him and had a few choice, thought provoking, non-PC comments. He had every right to report them to the campus PC police, but figured why should he have to prove a stupid jock was a stupid jock.

After the game, after a quick kiss and grope with Jeremy in the men’s room, Zach and Willy headed downtown to help with the preparations for David’s birthday party. Willy, or whoever, was to help Paul with the decorations. Zach had the important job, keep David out of the condo for four hours. It was to be a surprise party, after all.

“Enjoy the game?” Zach asked as he merged onto I-5.

“We were bad,” Willy said. “The Loggers lost last night, too.”

“What Loggers?” Zach asked, instantly confused.

“Oh, my, I mean, our high school, you know, North Park High. Oh, that’s right, you’re not from around here. I keep forgetting. You’re not mad are you?”

“Why should I be mad?”

“They, I mean he gets mad when I forget things about us. I’m sorry I upset you.”

“You haven’t upset me, Willy,” Zach said. The express lanes were open, which surprised him as it was nearly one in the afternoon, but he changed lanes and slipped in just as the highway workers were activating the gate. “Whew! That was close. Now we don’t have to do the U-dub crawl.”

“What’s that?” Willy asked.

“All the traffic from the University of Washington football game getting on the freeway at the Ship Canal will stop up the freeway for miles. I’m surprised you don’t know about that, you are from around here.”

“I’m sorry,” Willy whimpered.

Zach looked over and saw a tear dribble down the boy’s cheek. Fuck! He thought. Talk about forgetting, I can’t even remember something so simple as Willy always makes mistakes. Even when it isn’t a mistake, he gets blamed for it.

“No, I’m sorry, I forgot you don’t drive, yet,” Zach said. “Hey, how about an ice cream cone before we go up to the condo?”

“I can’t have one,” Willy whimpered.

“Why? I know you’re not lactose intolerant or diabetic, so why not?”

“I can’t have one,” Willy whined. He was close to blubbering. Tears were freely running down his cheeks.

Zach turned on his four-ways and pulled onto the shoulder. He couldn’t be here long because the highway truck was only a few miles back, but he had to keep Willy from losing it. That, according to Doctor Cunningham, was essential to Bruce’s well-being.

“Hey, come on, Willy, I forgot, okay,” Zach said as he rubbed the boy’s neck. He took out his handkerchief and wiped the tears from Willy’s face. “Come on, buddy, it’s okay, please, you know I haven’t known you all that long.”

Willy looked at him with the strangest expression. What did I say? Zach asked himself. Whatever is was it stopped the crying. The boy’s expression was something between fear and joy.

“You called me buddy,” Willy whispered. “Lance said I was his buddy. He’s our friend.”

“I’m your friend, right?”

“Yeah, you, too.”

Zach saw the state truck pull up behind him. He waved and pulled back out into traffic. Who was Lance? Zach asked himself. Was he real? He’d have to ask Carlotta or Bruce, if he ever came back. It seemed to be Carlotta, Carlotta pretending to be Bruce, or Willy now. Donny showed up for the first time last night; and, the mysterious stranger spoke to him. Bruce hadn’t been around for over a week, but one of them was going to karate and it wasn’t Carlotta. She didn’t do karate. She was adamant about that.

Zach took the Stewart Street exit and turned left on Boren to go up the hill. Normally, he would’ve spun around and headed up Denny to the apartment, but with having to take David out for whatever, he headed straight for the condo. He looked over at Bruce and wondered how it was all going to turn out. None of this started until they moved in together, but things seemed to be settling down, somewhat, if he didn’t count Patty’s infrequent nighttime sadistic visits.

Zach zipped into the condominium’s parking garage with the remote David gave him when he moved in and headed for the lowest floor where he still had a spot. He glanced over at Bruce and saw a change had occurred. Willy was gone and someone else, soon to identify him or herself, would help out at the party. Maybe Bruce had come back from wherever it was he’d gone.

“Hi, I’m Lance,” the voice said, the voice from last night. “You know, we all appreciate what you’re doing. We haven’t had many friends, our parents are very religious and don’t trust people who don’t belong to their church.”

“Yeah, same here,” Zach said. “Where’s Bruce?”

“Ah, Bruce, well let’s say he’s tired and needs a rest. Paul knows me, but I’ll try to stay away from David as much as possible. I think Paul understands and I hope you will, too.”

Zach didn’t want to say anything that might be construed he was jumping to the wrong conclusion, but he didn’t know what else could be said, “Then you’re the dominant one.”

“Me and Carlotta, yes. You could say we’re one and the same, except Carlotta wears a dress and I don’t. You know, I like the way you kiss.”

Zach hung his head and sighed. This was getting to be too much, too confusing. He wondered if he could get out of this somehow, but didn’t see any opening.

“Uh, Lance, uh, is it possible you guys, and, uh, girls.”

“There aren’t any girls. We’re all guys. Carlotta talks about getting the operation, but she doesn’t mean it. She likes fucking you too much.”

“Oh, god, I didn’t need to know that,” Zach said. “Look, you know I go to Doctor Cunningham, too, and you know I have to take pills to keep me from flipping out and you guys are overwhelming me. I can’t take much more of this, this insanity.”

“Who would you like?” Lance asked. “I think we might be able to arrange it among ourselves to minimize our interactions with you.”

“I thought I liked Bruce, but now I’m not certain it was Bruce.”

“It was Bruce, but you can’t have him,” Lance said. The voice was deeper with more authority. “He’s tired and needs to rest.”

“So my choices are basically you or Carlotta,” Zach said. He got out of the pickup and walked around to the other side. Lance got out in one fluid motion as if he’d been to a few karate lessons. “You don’t joke around much, do you?”

“No, I have a very poor sense of humor,” Lance said. He was close to Zach now, less than an inch of air separated them. “Also, I’m not too certain I’m gay. I don’t mind having sex with you, fucking you, because I’ve done it a couple times and it feels real good, but if you want sex then you’re going to have to be with Carlotta, Willy, or, god help us, Patty. I know for a fact both Carlotta and Willy want you to fuck them, but I won’t have it. I’m totally, completely, absolutely against that happening.”

“I have a boyfriend,” Zach said. He might not be having sex with Jeremy, but he was trying to be true with him this time around. He certainly wasn’t interested in messing with the menagerie, but it was interesting Willy wanted to be fucked. That wasn’t going to happen, though. Willy wasn’t a teenager, even though he was in the body of a twenty year old.

“Yeah, but you like our dick up your ass,” Carlotta said.

Zach stared at her.

“Lance and I are kind of like polar opposites,” Carlotta said. “We’re interchangeable. We come and go in each other’s presence. You’ll never know which one of us you’re talking to.”

“Like I said, I’m getting tired of this,” Zach said. “I don’t know if I can go on being around you guys and keeping my own sanity.”

“Okay, okay, we’ll back off,” Carlotta said. “But, you know, if Lance wasn’t around, you’d have fucked us a long time ago.”

Zach sighed. That was the last thing he needed to know.

“Where’re you taking me?” David asked as Zach pulled out of the garage and headed east on University.

“I need a new dark suit and was hoping you’d help me pick one out,” Zach said as he turned north on Broadway.

“Downtown is the other way,” David said. “Besides, you should go to my tailor. He can give you better quality than off-the-rack.”

“You know I can’t afford a tailor,” Zach said as he remembered being measured by Boots Clearfield. He wondered if David’s tailor would be so thorough.

“I’ll call him and set you up with an appointment next week,” David said. “So, now that that’s settled, do we go back to the condo now, or drive around for awhile. I know about the party.”

“You do?” Zach asked. He glanced over at his uncle, but David was looking out the window.

“Paul can’t keep a secret this big, someone always slips. How about we go to the zoo? I have been there in years.”

“Uncle David? Are you okay?” Zach asked.

“No, as a matter of fact, I’m not okay,” David said. He turned to Zach and their eyes met for a brief moment when Zach glanced over. “It happens to creative people now and then. You lose it. I haven’t written a new, original story in two years. I haven’t written anything in over a year. The bucket is empty and I haven’t got the foggiest idea how to fill it, again. Come on, humor me, take me to the zoo. I’ll treat you to a beer, afterwards.”

“I can’t drink beer,” Zach said.

“Sure you can, I know a place that’s a little lax in checking IDs. It’s a daddy bar down the hill from us. Hell, everybody will want to buy you a beer. Kind of makes your ass tingle, doesn’t it?”

That was true, Zach’s ass was tingling, but he wasn’t about to admit it.

“You know, I’m not eighteen until tomorrow,” Zach said.

“That doesn’t seem to have mattered up to now,” David said.

“No, you’re right about that; and, I’m very sorry if I’ve upset you with my promiscuous behaviors in the past few months.”

Silence enveloped the truck as Zach drove toward the zoo. They barely spoke for the rest of the afternoon. They walked past all the exhibits in silence, Zach following a half step behind David. It had been said. I had to be said and it was out there burning a hole in their relationship. Zach had been a sleazy slut, a whore, and now he was paying for it. He’d lost his uncle’s respect and it was going to take him a long time to regain it.

By the time they finally walked back to the parking lot it was nearly five o’clock, the appointed hour for the big surprise.

“I guess we’d better get back to the condo,” Zach said as he turned the ignition key.

“Yes, it is almost time,” David said. “I hope I look shocked.”

“You’ll do okay,” Zach said.

He cut down to Aurora, out over the bridge David attempted to jump from a month ago, and down to Denny and up Boren. They were in Zach’s parking spot a little late, but David didn’t seem too concerned. To Zach, he seemed a little too thoughtful. Maybe it was just the depression.

They rode up the elevator in silence and stood at the door a moment.

David looked at Zach and then, quite unexpectedly, took the boy in his arms and hugged him tightly against his body.

“No matter what happens, I want you to know I love you very much,” David said. “No, don’t say anything, you’re much more than my own son could ever have been. Things will be okay for you. I just want you to know that. Well, let’s get it done.”

He let go of Zach and opened the door.

It wasn’t deafening, but it was loud as everyone on the other side of the door shouted, “Surprise!”