STANDARD WARNING: This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to individuals, living or dead, is pure coincidence. Do not read this story if you are offended by man-to-man romance or sex. Do not read if you are underage according to the laws in the country, state/province, county, city/town/village or township where you live. There is sex between males. You have been warned!

Copyright 2001 by Nick Archer. Permission is granted to Nifty Archives, ASSGM, and gaywritings, to post one copy. No part may be copied, reproduced, republished, or reposted on another website without written permission from the author.

Family Instincts

By Nick Archer

Chapter 10: Bizarre Love Triangle: Acute

Matt was being ruthless.

He sat at the dining room table sorting out papers from his past. He had three milk crates on the floor near him – a crate which was the source, one crate for those papers he was going to keep and organize further and the third for recycling. The latter crates were marked only in Matt’s head – he knew which was which.

Most of the papers he was sorting represented a personal history. They were his college papers and lesson plans and grade books from his teaching days, and a few poems and stories he wrote. Into this mix were brochures and pamphlets, handouts from various classes, a few pay stubs, newspaper clippings and magazine articles, greeting cards he’d received, and even a couple greeting cards he’d purchased but never sent.

With each collection of papers, he asked himself: Am I going to use this again? Have I used it in the last six months? Am I going to use it again in the next six months? Can I condense it? The teaching materials were especially difficult to place. He was thinking seriously about returning to teaching.

Tommy approached him, and put an arm around his shoulders.

Hey, dad, did you remember to get paper?"

Matt slapped his forehead. "No, hon, I forgot. I’m sorry. I have to go to the grocery store later to pick up some things. I’ll get some then." Paper had suddenly become a scarce commodity in the household. The boys always needed paper for school, and Brian reminded him that they were out of loose-leaf. Paper was also essential for the computer printer. Their fussy bubble jet printer routinely wasted as many pages as it successfully printed.

Matt ran his fingers through his hair. "I’ll bet you wanted to draw, huh?"


Matt selected a few sheets from the recycle bin. "Could you use the backs of these?"

Tommy wrinkled his nose. "No, thanks."

The phone rang. "I’ll get it!" Tommy shouted. "Oh, hi, Gram." He twisted the cord around his index finger. "Fine....really?’s going to be fun. OK, here’s dad."

Matt took the phone. "Hi, mom."

"I have the day off tomorrow. I invited myself to your outing. You don’t mind, do you?"

"No, not at all, mom." In fact, he did. Matt was sort of planning on a side trip to Boy’s Town, which was nearby. The Historical Society was a much smaller place than the Art Institute or the Museum of Science and Industry. Going to Boy’s Town with his mom would be odd. Not that Gloria wasn’t supportive of Matt. She loved Brian and Tommy as her own grandsons. Somehow, Matt couldn’t imagine his mom in We’re Everywhere, a store full of gay and lesbian clothing.

"Good. Do you want to take my car?"

"It’s not necessary, mom. Tim is taking the Saturn to work so that we can take the Jeep. One of the boys can sit in the cargo area. I don’t think they will mind."

"OK. I’ll be there early." Matt’s mom was an early riser by habit.

"I’ll leave the back door unlocked for you."

It was a recipe for disaster. Fashion disaster, at least.

There were three boys and three boxes of Clairol in one bathroom.

Matt had taken them earlier to get haircuts. Brian and Jake needed haircuts for Confirmation and graduation. Mike needed one as well, so he went along.

The stylist hadn’t really given them complicated hairstyles. She had simply given them all buzz cuts, much to Matt’s chagrin. Mike and Brian had made such an issue of letting their hair grow once they left St. Luke’s. Mike looked very cute indeed with his hair a bit longer and parted down the middle. Matt actually liked Brian’s bowl cut, as he called it. But all three had insisted on the short, military haircuts by explaining it would be cooler for summer.

Matt watched as the tufts of hair fell on their shoulders, then onto the floor. With a wry smile, he recalled Bizarre Love Triangle again. He wondered if the buzz cuts were fashion or if they were doing it to be different. He doubted the latter, because he knew how fierce peer pressure in junior high could be. Perhaps they had something else planned. If that was the case, he simply didn’t want to know. From here on out, he was going to be a model of relaxed parenting.

When the black-clad stylist told him the total for all three cuts was $45, he almost had a heart attack. Matt paid with his Visa and made a mental note that if Leah offered him money for Mike’s haircut he would accept it.

Later that afternoon, while Matt was still sorting papers in the dining room and Tommy watched TV, they closed the downstairs bathroom door.

Brian had previously sneaked the wind-up kitchen timer downstairs. He had read the directions and knew that the dye or bleaching agent had to be left on for a precise amount of time. He had also stocked the bathroom with extra towels.

All three were stripped to their underwear. Mike sat on the toilet lid while Brian applied masking tape to his head.

"Are you sure this is going to work?" he asked anxiously.

"This is how John did it. He told me."

"I’m scared. I heard stories that if you leave it on too long, you hair could fall out."

Brian slid his hands into the flimsy gloves. "Don’t worry. It will be perfect," he reassured Mike with a confident wink that contradicted his own anxious feelings.

He opened the noxious bleaching agent and applied it to the top of Mike’s head. The rest of his hair below the masking tape would be left his natural color. They would repeat the process with Jake. Since Brian was naturally blond, he had decided that they would dye the top of his head a different color. Brian had chosen a bright Lucy red.

Since they only had one timer, they had to take turns. Brian masked Jake’s head while Mike’s hair bleached. As soon as the timer went off indicating the proper time for the bleach to do its job, Brian applied the bleach to Jake’s head and reset the timer.

"OK, while Jake bleaches, you jump in the shower and wash the stuff off. Here, there’s a little packet of shampoo and conditioner that came in the box." He handed Mike the packets.

Mike hooked his thumbs inside the elastic waistband of his underwear, but hesitated.

"Move it, Mike. If you leave that stuff on much longer the top of your head will be white instead of blond." He noticed Mike’s hesitation. "Crissakes, Mike, it’s not like we haven’t seen it before."

"Or played with it," Jake laughed.

"Shut up, bitch," Brian said, and twisted Jake’s nipple.

"Ouch! Take it easy! I was just kidding."

The timer sounded the end for Jake just as Mike finished his shower.

"Let’s see," Brian encouraged.

After a moment, Mike’s curiosity about his new hairstyle overcame his discomfort about his nudity.

"It’s perfect!" Brian said triumphantly. "Go look in the mirror."

Mike wiped the steam off the mirror and turned his head from side to side. "Ha! It’s bitchin’!"

Jake washed his hair, while Mike applied the masking tape to Brian’s head. He then applied the coloring dye to the top of his head. Mike had wrapped a towel around his waist. While he massaged the color into Brian’s scalp, Brian noticed a lump developing in the front of the towel.

Playfully, Brian slid his palm on the inside on Mike’s leg and under the towel.

Just as Brian’s fingertips reached Mike’s scrotum, he jerked away. "Hey, don’t. I might mess up." He jerked his head and indicated the shower where Jake was still washing his hair.

Just then, Jake turned off the water and stepped out. Somewhat of an exhibitionist about his body, he eschewed a towel around his waist while he inspected his hair.

Brian had always been sort of excitable. This was Matt’s euphemistic term for the fact that he tended to get a boner at the drop of a hat. It had happened in Carson’s when he was trying on a swimsuit. It had even happened when Matt or Tim hugged him. And it was happening now. Brian developed a raging erection while in the shower. Even though they had used most of the hot water, he couldn’t will it away. The whole thing reminded him of the incident in the Nature Lodge at camp where he jacked Mike off in front of the laundry tub.

Brian turned off the shower.

"Let’s see your hair," Jake said.

"Hand me a towel," Brian commanded.

"There aren’t any more. Let’s see it."

"I brought at least five down here," Brian said nervously.

Jake maneuvered his way to the shower. Just then, Brian stuck his torso outside the stall, but demurely covered his erection with the shower curtain.

"Excellent!" Mike exclaimed.

"Perfect!" Jake agreed. "You’ve got to see it. It’s way cool!"

"Hand me a towel," Brian repeated.

"Crissakes, Brian, it’s not like we haven’t seen it before," Jake mocked. "We’re all guys here," he said in a gentler tone.

That may be true, Brian thought, but you haven’t seen it like this. Brian took a deep breath, let the curtain fall and stepped out of the stall. His teenage cock was standing at a ninety-degree angle to the rest of his body.

If Mike or Jake were shocked, they tactfully held their tongues. Brian stepped in front of the mirror and smiled at the image.

"It’s excellent! Perfect!" Jake and Mike stood behind him.

Jake’s right hand found it’s way around to Brian’s cock, which was still semi-hard. "So is this."

Brian spun around. Jake had let his towel drop to the floor, and his dick was standing at attention as well. Their eyes met for a microsecond. Brian saw the pleading in Jake’s eyes and Jake saw the fear and hesitation in Brian’s.

"Let it happen, Brian," Jake encouraged in a voice barely above a whisper. "I want it. You want it. Just let it happen," he pleaded.

Timidly, he reached out and wrapped his hand around Jake’s cock.

"Come on, join us, Mike." Jake tugged at the towel around Mike’s waist and Mike allowed it to fall to the floor. Standing in a triangle in front of the sink, the three boys engaged in the ancient adolescent male ritual of exploring each other’s bodies. It wasn’t precisely a circle jerk since they weren’t masturbating each other. It was more a celebration of maleness. They were comparing themselves to each other. It was an expression of solidarity between brothers. Like their new hairstyles, it represented a bonding between them. Unconsciously, they knew that this secret would be held amongst them. Once they held this secret in common, there could be little that they could hold back from each other. It served to bond them closer than ever. It was a clear statement of trust between the three boys. Most importantly, it was an expression of affection for each other, spoken not in words, but through gentle yet insistent touch. Their fingers and hands spoke the words they had difficulty verbalizing, even in a liberal household with two male parents. I love you and I trust you enough to allow you to touch my most secret body parts.

And the visuals! Brian wished he could record what was happening. It was all the more exciting because it was forbidden.

Brian was in ecstasy as two hands, one each from Mike and Jake, caressed his cock and still hairless balls. His own hands were busy. His right hand gently tugged on Jake’s penis, while his left caressed Mike’s balls.

Jake closed his eyes and a soft moan escaped his parted lips. He must be as close to orgasm as I am, Brian thought. Brian’s eyes met Mike’s and a slow, devilish grin spread across Mike’s face. He was clearly enjoying this as well. Brian was pleased Mike let his inhibitions down and put aside his raging jealousy over Jake to participate in their mutual groping session. And Brian thought his grin very sexy!

Brian couldn’t resist. Although he wanted to kiss Jake, he knew Jake would be freaked out. Brian closed his eyes, puckered his lips and leaned toward Mike.

Mike was about to kiss Brian when there was a knock at the door!

Tim’s voice: "What’s going on in there?"


"Open the door," he commanded.

"Shit!" They scrambled through the piles of towels and used masking tape to locate their underwear. "Hurry, hurry!"

"What’s taking so long?"

He flung the door open just as Jake pulled up his boxer briefs.

Tim’s eyes fixed on the their hair.

For a moment there was silence.

"Oh, my God!" Tim let out a scream of laughter. "Look at you! Oh, my God!" He doubled over and held his sides as he convulsed with laughter.

Luckily for the boys, his eyes had fixed at the tops of their heads. Had he scanned lower on their bodies, they might be in trouble. The temperature difference between the steamy bathroom and the chilly basement helped to calm the sexual tension.

He put a hand on Brian’s shoulder to steady himself. "You three are a sight!" He scanned the bathroom. "You’d better clean up this bathroom before Matt gets home. He’s going to have a fit as it is."

"Where did he go?"

"He had to go to the grocery store. Tommy went with him."

"Why are you home?" Brian asked.

"It’s four-thirty. The usual time I get home." Tim still changed in the small workshop downstairs when he got home from work. "Did you leave any hot water for me?"

"You’re not mad at us?"

"You have to live with it." Tim started to laugh again as he started back up the stairs.

Matt didn’t fly off the handle, nor did he rant and rave or yell or scream when he saw what Brian, Jake and Mike had done to their hair.

He simply laughed. "Hairstyles of the Young and Foolish," was his only comment.

"How do you want your eggs, Tim?" Gloria asked.

"You don’t have to make me breakfast. Really, Gloria. I appreciate it, but...."

"Sit," she commanded. He sat.

"Um, over easy, please?"

Their conversation was done in a whisper so as not to wake Matt and the boys. Gloria had the TV on tuned to The Today Show. The volume was so low, one almost had to stand next to the set to hear it. It was one of her morning rituals. She always did this, for as long as Matt could remember. She patted Tim’s shoulder as she served him coffee.

"Matt doesn’t make eggs often, does he?"

"No, he always says he doesn’t like eggs."

"I knew that. Good thing I brought some."

Within minutes, she brought him a plate complete with toast and sausage links. She sat down at the table with him and her mug of coffee.

"So how’s it going, Tim? How’s your family?"

Tim shrugged. "Haven’t heard much. My brother is a jerk, as usual. Dad is still living in Tinley Park. He’s staying out of trouble. I haven’t heard a word from my sisters."

"Have you talked to your mom?"


"Why not, if I may ask?"

He looked down at his plate. Instead of eating the eggs, he was rearranging them around the plate with his fork. "We never got along very well."

"I’m sorry," she said sympathetically. "It’s so sad when parents and children can’t get along. I’m so glad you two are teaching the boys about how to get along with other people. It’s so important."

She got up from the table and sat on the couch. Tim ate while she watched Katie and Bryant. When he finished, he took his own plate into the kitchen, and put it into the dishwasher. Gloria strode into the kitchen where she intercepted him on his way out the door. She handed him a brown paper bag.

"Here’s your lunch."

He took the sack from her. For it’s size, it was unusually heavy. "You didn’t have to..."

"Think of it as a way to say thanks for all you do for the boys. And for Matt. He’s not perfect, I know. But somehow, being in love has made him settle down. He’s calmer and happier than I’ve seen him in a long time."

He spontaneously took her in his arms, careful not to crush the small woman. "Thanks," he whispered, not trusting his voice.

"No, thank you, Tim."

"Mom...." Tim’s voice trailed off in tears.

"I know, it hurts. Everyone needs a mom." Ever the practical one, she patted his strong back. "Go, now. You don’t want to be late."

He quickly wiped his cheeks with his big hand.

"Have a good day, sweetheart." And he did.

Matt only had coffee and toast that morning as the four boys wolfed down everything Gloria put in front of them. Matt waited for her to say something about their hair, but she didn’t.

Although they took the same route, the drive to the Historical Society on Wednesday morning was much different than Monday’s journey. Gloria’s presence subdued the boys. Tommy sat, or perhaps more accurately, laid, in the back part of the vehicle, along with the picnic lunch Gloria had packed. He borrowed the Walkman and was listening to God-knew-what.

Every so often they chuckled at him as he tried to sing along with the music.

"So, Gram, tell us what dad was like when he was our age."

"Oh, no," Matt groaned.

"He was a good kid, most of the time. He was never much of a joiner, like his sister. Still, he was involved in a lot of individual things, like speech team."

"And sports?" Jake asked.

"No, he never did go out for sports. I never understood that about him."

"Tell us one time when he got into trouble."

"Well, when he was a boy, about six or so, his dad owned a gas station two doors down from where we lived."

"Oh, no Mom. Please don’t tell that story!"

"Now, Matt," she patted his arm. "It’s your history. It won’t harm you. You have to accept your past. It’s part of who you are."

"Where have I heard that before?" Matt asked himself rhetorically.

"Anyway, his dad owned a gas station. At the time, I was in nursing school. So, when they got out of school, Matt and his sister went to the gas station. Matt was playing with a fire extinguisher."

Brian turned around and said to Tommy, "Take off the Walkman for a minute."

Matt was clearly uncomfortable about having the story told about him.

"Matt’s dad told him, ‘Don’t play with it. It has poison in it.’ He told Matt to stop three times. Matt pointed the hose at his face and looked down the funnel. He squeezed the trigger and it went off in his face."

The boys were laughing hysterically.

"The white powder went up his nose and in his mouth. Even his hair was blown back as if it had been dried with a blow dryer."

Matt grinned and shook his head, while the boys laughed at him.

"What happened next?" Jake asked.

"Every day for a week, he asked me if he was going to die. All he knew is that it was poison, and he had swallowed it. We tried to explain it was only carbon dioxide and baking soda. He asked every day. At the end of the week I said to him, ‘If you don’t die today, I’m gonna kill you.’"

The boys all laughed loudly at Matt while he shook his head.

"Am I gonna die today?" Brian mocked.

"I’m gonna kill you first," Jake replied.

"So now you know. Matt wasn’t perfect. And if he gives you a hard time about the crazy thing you did to your hair, you can remind him of the fire extinguisher. " She hadn’t mentioned a thing about their hair until now.

Only Tommy remained laughing. Jake, Mike and Brian quieted rather quickly.

Brilliant, Matt thought. She managed to bring me down a few notches, and still get her point across to the boys.

Unlike Monday, which had been overcast all day, Wednesday was clear, if a bit cool, and the temperature was even chillier near the lake. Lake Michigan is really an inland freshwater sea that creates its own weather systems. Chicago weathercasts all include a separate prediction for the lakeshore. As Matt drove north on Lake Shore Drive, the sun glinted off the buildings on Michigan Avenue.

"The clouds look like a painting," Mike commented. Matt smiled to himself. If Mike was trying to impress him, he had succeeded. It was reassuring to know he had picked up something from the trip to the Art Institute.

They found a decent parking space on the street behind the building. The Historical Society had recently added an addition, and Matt had never seen it. Because the Historical Society is located in Lincoln Park, the new addition was a challenge for architects and builders. The Chicago Park District opposed the museum taking up any more park space, so the architect designed an addition that pushed the front of the museum out. Behind the new facade, Matt knew, was a new hands-on gallery.

"Don’t you love history?" Gloria chirped. Tommy held her hand as they walked and looked up at her adoringly.

Tommy agreed – he would agree with anything – but Mike, Brian and Jake grumbled.

"History is who we are," Gloria reminded them. "It’s where we come from."

Their first stop was the gallery called On The Paper Trail, which featured documents, books, newspapers, posters, pamphlets and brochures from all of the citie’s important events. Even Matt had to admit the gallery was a bit dull, so they didn’t spend a lot of time there.

Next, came Illinois Pioneer Life and Fort Dearborn. This was a lot more interesting. There was a replica of a log cabin to walk through, demonstrations on how to make candles, and lots of artifacts and helpful guides to explain them.

A House Divided came next, which told the story of what America was like in the Civil War and the events leading up to it. The events and everyday life of citizens in America during the Revolution was told in We the People.

They were all fascinated by a special temporary exhibit called Deaths, Disasters and Disturbances: Trouble in Chicago. It featured photos, text and a few artifacts about the various natural and man-made disasters in Chicago. Included were displays about the Haymarket Riot, the Iroquois Theater fire, the Eastland sinking, the Our Lady of Angels school fire and the crash of Flight 191 as it took off from O’Hare in 1979. Some of the photos where graphic and many were moving.

Matt was particularly moved by the Our Lady of Angels school fire. Just before 3:00 PM on December 1, 1958 a fire began in a stairwell in a wing of the Catholic school. The old wooden building had no sprinkler system nor automatic alarm system. The fire department was sent to the wrong address. By this time, fire and fumes blocked the stairwell. Children jumped from their third-floor classrooms to the pavement below. Ninety children and three nuns lost their lives.

Gloria silently stood next to her son, as he gazed at a blown-up photo of a Chicago fireman carrying the lifeless body of a boy.

"Tragic, isn’t it?"

"Especially now, that I’m a father. What if it were one of my boys?"

"It happens. Tragedy can strike anyone, anywhere, anytime."

"But, why?"

"I wish I had the answer for you." They were both silent for a time. She spoke again, as if thinking out loud. "Maybe to help make us better people, to make us stronger. Maybe to remind us that we are human and we are vulnerable. Just like these," she gestured toward the displays, "riots, fires, tornadoes, mistakes, carelessness, ignorance. Maybe tragedies occur to teach us something. We can’t deny the past, only learn from it."

She patted his back. "Come on, the kids want to see the hands-on area." They started walking behind the boys, who were following the directional signs. "You took it very well this morning."

"Took what?"

"The fire extinguisher story."

"Thanks, mom, for telling it," he said sarcastically.

"You’re human, too, Matt. Believe it or not," she responded with as much sarcasm. In a gentler voice, she said, "You did goofy things, too. Just like those boys. They’ll outgrow their hair and the phase they’re going through."

They had arrived at the hands-on area.

"Just be sure you get some pictures so you can blackmail them when they’re older."

Matt threw his head back and laughed.

After some time in the hands-on area, they left the museum. They found a table in Lincoln Park, and spread out their picnic lunch prepared by Gloria. She had purchased fried chicken, but made her delicious potato salad to go along with it. She had carrot and celery slices, and chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

Without a protest, the boys packed up the remains of the lunch, threw away the garbage and carried the remains to the Jeep. Matt wondered how his mom could get them to do things without whining or complaining.

Fatigue silenced the boys as they drove home. Once they got back onto Lake Shore Drive, Gloria turned to them.

"Thanks for letting me come today."

"Why are you thanking us?" Brian asked.

"For letting me become part of your history, your memories, today. Your history may have been painful, but always remember: from now on the future is what you make of it."

Brian reached for her hand and gave it a squeeze.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it. As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome. I read and respond to all email (even if it takes a few days) Just click on one of the links below. And don't forget to check out my website (Chapters are always posted there earlier than here) and my other story here on Nifty, Pocketful of Stars, in the Young Friends section.


secondary email:

ICQ: 61283246 -- AIM: archerIL-- Yahoo Instant Messenger: archerland2000


to be notified of new chapters: